Last week Brandi reminded us that we need the foundational truths of the Gospel to be firmly rooted in our hearts. What we experience now has consequences later, both in this life and the one to come. If we are in Christ we always have hope. We must remind ourselves and each other of the truth and not fall prey to the “godless chatter” or “irreverent babble” that goes on around us continually.
This week Paul urges Timothy to be the most useful he can be for the kingdom and avoid the temptations and pitfalls that would hinder his effectiveness.
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.
Observation – what does the passage say?
-Paul uses a metaphor of a “great house.”
-He mentions vessels of gold and silver contrasted with vessels of wood and clay.
-He contrasts honorable use and dishonorable use.
-Paul encourages being cleansed of what is dishonorable in order to become honorable.
-Honorable use is described as: set apart as holy, useful to the master, ready for every good work.
-Commands: 1) flee youthful passions, 2) pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace; 3) do these things alongside others who call on the Lord with a pure heart
-Warning: have nothing to do with foolish/stupid arguments = quarrels
Interpretation – what does the passage mean?
After imploring Timothy to cling to truth and what is trustworthy, He stops to use a metaphor to illustrate His point. Paul mentions in vs. 20-21 “vessels” in a “large” or “great house.” Dr. Constable in his commentary Sonic Light explains the large house as the church (based on his context in 1 Tim. 3:15) and the vessels as faithful and unfaithful Christians.
Not all Christians are useful in the same way. Some Christians Paul was referring to were turning from the truth and quarreling. This, in turn, was leading others astray. These Christians were not fit to be useful in the kingdom because they were distracted by wrong things. They were not “vessels for honorable use.” However, Paul’s encouragement was to “cleanse themselves” so that they could become set apart, useful, ready for every good work.
This would involve confession, repentance and pursuing the truth by repenting–fleeing evil desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. The key here is “along with.” There were those who were pursuing truth and Paul exhorts Timothy to run alongside others who were desiring the right things while turning from the wrong things.
Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?
When you read through verses 20-21, the tendency is to ask: “What kind of vessel am I? Honorable or dishonorable? Am I made of gold or silver? Wood or clay?” This is when Bible study methods is so critical. We can’t jump right to application without first looking at context and the overall message Paul teaching Timothy.
In looking at the context, Paul is imploring Timothy to realize that all believers have the capacity and giftedness to be useful to the Lord. We all have the same opportunity to be greatly used by the Lord. The key is whether or not we are going to faithfully pursue the truth and turn from what is evil. When we get off track and turn from the truth, we are limited in the ways God can use us; however, the wonderful promise in v. 21 is that those who cleanse themselves (turn, repent, confess) can become useful once again. We all get distracted, side-tracked and turn from the Lord at times. The Lord always stands ready to forgive and make us useful once again as gold and silver vessels. We have a Loving Father and it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and true life (John 10:10).
As we seek to live fruitful, obedient lives grounded in the truth, we must turn from evil desires and turn toward the pursuit of righteousness, faith, love and peace. It is not enough to turn from the wrong things. We must pursue the right things. All of this is impossible on our own. God gives us His Holy Spirit and the community of other believers so that we can encourage each other and spur one another on (Heb. 10: 24).
It is comforting to know that God wants to use each one of us uniquely for His purposes. Our gifts and talents look different but they are all useful. Our job is to walk faithfully with the Lord with truth as our guide so we can point others to true life found in Christ. There will always be temptations to walk away from the truth by believing the lies of the world. Let’s encourage each other to run hard after the Lord.
1) Spend time asking the Lord to reveal any area of your life that is not honoring Him. Is it a sinful behavior, your thought life, paralyzing fear? Confess these sins to the Lord and ask Him to make you useful (honorable) for His glory.
2) How practically can you pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace? How are you currently pursuing these things with others (through friendship, a Bible study, your church community)?
Let’s continue to walk in the truth together!