"Useful to the Master"
This text, including verses 22-26, helps us to see not only the qualifications of a preacher, but what every Christian should strive for - to be a vessel useful to the Master. How to become useful REQUIRES some "cleaning up."
Useful to the Master
(2 Tim. 2:20-26)
A. There are times in our family where we have special dinners. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are types of special meals in many homes. Now, if you came from a home where mom had special dishes, you know exactly what I am about to say. It might be special “china” or heirloom pieces that are kept in a special hutch and used for only those special occasions. Everyone knows that those special dishes are treated with great honor. They are hand washed, not sent through the dishwasher. They are carefully dried and placed back into the china hutch until such time as they are needed.
B. But, we also have everyday plates and cups. They are also very useful and treated well, but obviously not quite the same as the china dishes.
C. Then come the paper plates and cups. These have very little care and are thrown away when they are done. It is not a totally equal illustration to Paul, but you get the picture.
D. So we come to our text. I want to reflect back on verse 19. Here is God’s seal, God’s inscription over this great house that belongs to him. That first inscription has two sayings (1) “The Lord knows who are his and (2) Let everyone who names the name of the LORD depart from iniquity.
I. Dishonorable Vessel
A. I want to put together from this extended text three verses for you. Look with me at verses 19, 21, 25-26. Some dishes serve a greater purpose than others. In fact, some dishes are used for the garbage, not for serving the meal. Would you rather be a china platter or a plastic garbage bag? God says, “The choice is yours!”
B. Here’s the point. Paul names two people in Ephesus that are harming the church by their teaching that the resurrection has already taken place. Hymenaeus and Philetus. I would love to have my name written down in God’s message to the world, but not like these men.
C. These two men “have swerved from the truth” and “are upsetting the faith of some.” Let me tell you, that is dishonorable. That is the garbage that the church in Ephesus had to deal with and Timothy had to fight against.
D. Everyone knows that one of the most dangerous situations is to come between a mom and her babies. In almost every case in the animal and human world, a mom will attack and defend her babies even at a cost to herself. Now how do you think God feels when someone IN THE CHURCH harms God’s kids? What do you believe God will do to those who “hurt the faith” of Christians by their own puffed up, self-righteous and false teaching? Do you understand garbage and its place? It is thrown out.
E. Examine yourself. Are you one who builds up the body of Christ by your words and actions or are you one who tears down by your words or actions? Paul tells Timothy very specifically what to do (READ verses 23-25). God says it is time for a few people to get over themselves. God’s mercy and grace calls them to repent and “cleanse themselves from what is dishonorable.”
F. I will be the first to share my imperfections. I do not desire to harm, but know that I have harmed by my words and actions. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to repent and clean up my evil ways. I thank God for grace and mercy. Every day I have to examine myself, my attitude as well as my actions and clean up me. Only when I am humble enough to bow before God and desirous enough to love you more than I love myself can I find me becoming what a vessel of use and honor.
II. Honorable Vessel
A. So come back to our text and see what God does desire. READ verses 20-21. Here is where I want to be. I love being used by God. When I believe that God has somehow taken this worthless person and used me for some worthwhile action, I thank God and smile. God is good. God sees in me potential I rarely see in myself. He guides me, helps me, motivates me, and lifts me up to higher ground.
B. You can live a God’s vessel of honor. You can live above the sin that pulls you down. You can live humbly before God and with the strength of His love and grace. This is not about what you can do, it is about are you willing to be a useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work? That’s the question here. Are you willing to be what God teaches? This life of a vessel of honor is not for the timid and faint of heart. It requires constant vigilance and willingness to grow, change, and become like Christ.
C. So, how do you grow, change and become more like Christ every day? READ verses 22-24. I like lists. I like concrete action steps. The Bible is filled with them to keep me from making excuses that “I just don’t know what God wants.” Yes I do. Here is one of those lists that help me to know exactly what God expect of me as a preacher and as a Christian. Don’t run away from verses like, but hold to them. Let them guide your steps from the moment you wake up to the time your eyes close in sleep. It’s not about perfection, but here is one list of how to live in this local church body.
A. Paul uses the phrase, “the Lord’s servant.” That keeps all this in perspective. I am not the master of the house, I am servant in the house. I don’t have to get caught up in my emotions and desires, but I do need to get caught up in the vision, goal and desire of the master of the house. To do that I need to flee some things and pursue others. I need to have enough wisdom to know what fights are worth fighting and what arguments are best left alone. I simply am a vessel, a servant, one who does the will of my father in heaven.
B. Never forget the goal – win the soul, not the argument. It’s not about me, it’s not about you. It’s all about Him! To God be the glory and dominion forever and ever! Let us rise up to God’s calling, walking worthy of that calling, and living in the unity that His grace allows. If we can help you in your walk with the Lord, then come as we stand and sing.