Nov 16, 2011, 3:00 PM
have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set
you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” (Hebrews 1:9)
True ‘vessels of honour’ are a rarity in our day. They are not just something you can pick up from a shelf in the supermarket; no, they are home-grown. They have to go through a process, and they do take time to sprout and attain maturity. God’s desire is that we all qualify, but many frown over the process.
The apostle Paul raised such concerns in his day as he conveyed to his disciple Timothy these thoughts: “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
The apostle Paul, Timothy’s mentor, entrusted him with responsibilities he believed Timothy could handle. For this reason, he frequently sent letters of encouragement to him so that he would not let up. In one such letters he talked to him about character, exhorting him to be a worthy vessel approved by God not by people. He impressed on him the need to work hard at it. It was a tall order but worthy of his disciple. He cautioned: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Young people in apostle Paul’s days were also exposed to the devil’s snares.
When we honour God by our examples whatever the challenges, He gives a nod of approval. In each of our stations we are called to be of exemplary character, far removed from things that would smear the image of the people of the Way---things that would bring dishonour. Apostle Paul catalogues four types of vessels----gold, silver, wood and clay. Whichever we identify with, it behoves us to portray the real virtues in a society that has lost its moral bearings, compromising its principles, norms and standards.
In Job, one of the oldest books of the Bible, we read; “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright. He feared God and shunned evil. ” (Job 1:1) Job was a vessel of honour to the extent that God boasted about him to Satan. “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8) God was proud of his servant Job’s credentials. Would He boast of us too?
In prophet Ezekiel’s time, God lamented over the fact that He had searched all around Israel for a vessel of honour someone He would look up to that would deter Him from pouring His fiery anger to consume His people, but unfortunately could find none. “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezekiel 22:30) That man was the one Pontius Pilate presented to the crowd that had asked for him to be judged. He said to the crowd: “Look, I am bringing Him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against Him.” After he had brought Him out. He said: “This is the man!” (John 19:4, 5)
That was the man, the spotless Lamb of God that has taken away the sins of the world. King David prophesied: “Then I said, ‘Here I am----it is written about me in the scroll----I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.’ (Psalm 40:7-8) It is said of this vessel of honour that “... for the joy set before Him (He) endured the cross, scorning its shame, ...” (Hebrews 12:2b) Today, He sits at the right hand of the throne of God.
A vessel of honour of the calibre of our Lord Jesus cannot be duplicated anywhere. The integrity which He conducted His earthly ministry was characterised as being ‘without blemish and spotless.’ He stood for the right and would not compromise under any circumstance. He challenged His enemies in these terms; “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46)
The standards of our Sovereign God have not changed; they are immutable; first etched in stone, now written in our hearts. (Jeremiah 31:33)
Today, God is looking for a vessel of honour like His Son to perform noble deeds and I daresay He has found you!