Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Dishes

 
What dishes are you pulling out for Thanksgiving?  When I lived in America we had a couple of fancy serving platters, a ceramic dish or two just the right size for sweet potato  casserole, and a giant roaster that were only pulled out for holidays. Back then I had ordinary dishes too.  Chipped and cracked, they were familiar and useful. There was one more kind: a big ceramic bowl in the bathroom that I should have cleaned more often than I did. 
 
Have you thought about yourself as a dish in God's house before?  I certainly never had until my husband pointed out Timothy 2. 

"The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness. Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:19-21).

At first glance I thought that this was about being saved or unsaved.  But in context it's clear these are all dishes in the Master's house. Paul is trying to make a point about the kind of Christians we are.
 
So what kind of dishes are we talking about?  Two factors are in play - composition and contents. Paul says these vessels are made of various materials: precious metals, wood and ceramic.  This part of the analogy is clear - Christians are not all the same.   
 
"As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11).

Peter tells us clearly that the gifts we have received are varied and intended to be used in God's service.  Every form of grace, every variety of Christian should be bringing glory to God.  In God's house a china plate, an oak barrel, a silver vase, and a golden goblet are all vessels of honor.

So what's the difference between a vessel of honor and a vessel of dishonor?  Let me ask the question in another way.  What's the difference in a chamber pot and a pitcher of punch?  What's inside, of course!  And the difference in the honorable and dishonorable dishes in the Lord's house is the sin staining the inside. 

The two sentences in verse 19 lay out two complimentary truths.  The first is that in God's house are all kinds of Christians. Regardless of gender, race, intelligence, talent, opportunity, or role "The Lord knows those who are His."   The second is that those who are Christians are called on to cleanse themselves from sin.  Regardless of the fact that we are cleaned by the blood of Jesus, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness."

Can you imagine God as a housewife opening the cabinet ready to pull us out for Thanksgiving dinner only to find that we are covered in something disgusting?  Here He is ready for us to do good work, but it's impossible because of our sin.  That's the analogy - we have to stay clean!  God washed our sins away, but whether we delight in our sins, becoming filthy again day after day, or whether we "abstain from wickedness" comes down to us.  Will we choose to follow or choose to sin?

If you're hosting Thanksgiving at your house this year you'll scrub two kinds of vessels.  One a vessel for dishonor with the Comet and a toilet brush. The only thing it will hold are the things no one wants.   The others, special dishes for a special day, are vessels of honor prepared to display a giant turkey, mounds of mashed potatoes, and a pumpkin pie.  Resolve yourself to be a dish of honor, ready to use the gifts God gave you! 
 


Helene
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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