from Virtuous Daughters, October/November 2018~Volume 18, Number 4
Vessels are used in the Bible many times in connection with this topic of consecration. The only time this word actually appears in Scripture is in the context of the tabernacle or temple, as God gives His people instructions on how to serve Him best. The word "consecrate" means to "set apart" and to "dedicate," specifically, "to the service and worship of God."
In this sense, we as Christians are compared in 2 Timothy 2:20 to vessels, set apart and consecrated for the Master's use. "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." (2 Timothy 2:20-21)
Picture with me a shelf with three teapots on it. These teapots are all said to be "set apart" for your use, so in that sense they are "consecrated" to your use. You have invited some friends over for a ladies' tea, and can't wait to pour the tea with one of your beautiful teapots. But which one should you use?
You pick the first one up, and a frown puckers your forehead. Hmm, this one doesn't quite look like the right one to use. It is filthy! The outside is grimy, and when you shake it, a shower of dust, dirt, and sand falls from inside. With disappointment, you place it back on the shelf.
You take the next teapot down. But as you hold it in your hands, you notice a huge crack down the side. You turn it to investigate—but oh, no! It fell apart! Pieces clatter to the floor at your feet.
In desperation, you turn to the last teapot. A smile lights your face as you lift it from the shelf. This one is sparkly clean. There are absolutely no cracks or flaws. It seems as if it is just waiting for you to use it.
Keeping that analogy in memory, I want to look at three aspects that come to mind when I think of consecration. What does it mean to be consecrated? How does it look lived out in our daily lives?
The first aspect of consecration is sanctification. You could not use that first teapot because it was dirty, right? You would have to spend some time cleaning it up; there's no way anyone would want to drink tea poured out of that! And so the first thing that God has to do before He can use us, is to sanctify us.
Although at salvation, we are saved from the penalty and power of sin, that doesn't mean we automatically become perfect! Not at all! It's then that God begins the work of a lifetime. The process of sanctification. He starts to transform and clean us from the inside out.
Why? So that He can use us. He cannot use a dirty vessel any more than a woman could pour tea out of a dirty teapot! He is pure and holy, and He wants to use us to show the world what He can do in a person's life, but if there is no difference, all they'll see is the dirt. Why would they want Christ?
I particularly think of self and pride as being a lot of the dirt God constantly has to keep digging self out of us! He cannot use a selfish, self-centered, self-dependent person. It's only as we come to the end of ourselves, and realize that we are nobody special, and realize, indeed, that we are but dust before God, that He can start to use us! God cannot use a vessel full of self. It's only as that vessel is emptied of that self that He can fill the vessel with Jesus and use us the way He chooses.
There's a lot of pride too. Are we willing to let go of our "perfection," and admit that all our attempts at spirituality fall far short of the real thing? God has to humble us, so often, before He can use us. That dirt of pride has to be cleansed so that He can be all in all!
But sanctification is not just cleansing things out. It's also adding things that should belong. This is described in 2 Peter 1:4-8: "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
As He rids us of self and pride and sin, He is then able to begin to fill us with Himself, and to make us partakers of the divine nature…. The dirt of pride and self is replaced with humility, faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. I would encourage you to open yourself to the searching and cleansing of the Lord through Bible reading and prayer. Ask Him to show you things that need to be changed, and to help you let go of pride and self. Although this can be so painful, it is crucial that we go beyond superficial "spirituality" if we desire to be used of Him.
The next aspect of consecration would be surrender. I used to have such a mistaken view of surrender! For a long time, I thought surrender meant saying "yes" to going to the foreign mission field or full-time service. But I was really missing out on what surrender truly meant.
I remember listening to a preacher at our church's missions conference years ago say, "Surrender is living up to the light you have been given." I shook my head inwardly as I wrote it down in my notebook. Surely not! Surrender was going down to the altar to say, "Yes, Lord, I'll go anywhere and do anything; here am I, send me—I'll go to the mission field!"
Please don't get me wrong here—I certainly believe that is one aspect of surrender, but that is not all surrender means. Surrender is a day by day, even hour by hour and moment by moment thing. It is responding to each situation that God sends or allows in our lives, in the way that He would have us to respond. It is laying "myself" aside each day, so that His perfect will can be lived out even in the smallest area.
I find myself so often picking and choosing where and how I want to serve God. I used to have such grand dreams of the wonderful, exciting ways that I would serve God. I would change the world—I would participate in front-line ministry. Do you notice something there? I, I, I...and so God began to teach me to surrender more fully to Him; to be a vessel that was fully yielded in His hands, with no will of my own.
I have such a long way to go in this. But, sisters, God wants to use us—He is willing and waiting to use us—but maybe not in the way that we think or choose. He created us and gave us our talents and interests. Surely, He would know best where He could use us! And if it is simply in making meals and doing laundry, and cleaning an elderly neighbor's house, and washing dishes, then may He get all the glory out of that! Perhaps He will not open a door for exciting ministry—but simply ask you to quietly minister to a hurting person at your church, or to change dirty diapers and play with toddlers in the nursery.
It's not about us; it's about Him! We are here to bring Him glory and honor, and as we place ourselves in His hands, and say, "Yes, Lord, Your will," in each situation, how our hearts could be transformed! How much glory might He be able to get from our lives!
It is crucial to remember that consecration and surrender is to a Person—Jesus Christ. A friend shared this quote with me. "Communion with God will always lead to commitment to God." Consecration starts with simply knowing Jesus, drawing nearer to Him! What a blessed thing it is to have less of self and more and more of Jesus!
And finally, the third aspect of consecration is service. This is the visible part; the evidence of the inward consecration. Our service should stem from a heart of love that is fully consecrated—set apart, given—to our Savior.
Sisters, are we truly surrendered? Is our heart given and yielded fully to Him? Are we holding anything back? Is there one little area, maybe so tiny we hardly think of it, that is not His?
Consecration begins with our hearts. It begins with a life and heart fully yielded to the Savior. The blessings of this life are without number, although it may not be an easy life. There will be lots of sacrifices that only He will know about, lots of struggles with self that will never be known by anyone else.
I have watched lives of consecration, and I have watched lives that are lived for self. I have observed that those whose hearts and selves are consecrated to the Savior do not have an easy, comfortable life. It would be much easier to live for self. That is what the world does and calls for us to do every day.
But Jesus gave His life for us. And He is calling for us to follow Him. It is only "reasonable service" that we should consecrate ourselves to Him as "Living Sacrifices." The life of consecration is the only one worth living, because it's lived for the only One worth living for—Jesus! The blessings of knowing and serving Him are endless, and will only grow sweeter with time, even into eternity!
Oh, may we draw nearer to Him, and allow Him to sanctify us, making us more like Himself. Oh, may we get closer, and allow Him to draw us into deeper surrender. And then, may we, in radical and complete abandonment, serve and obey and love the One Who is worth it all!
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:1)
We are prepared unto every good work. That is the final, perfect, completing aspect of consecration. We are sanctified, we are surrendered—why? So we can serve. As we grow nearer and nearer to Jesus, and go deeper and deeper into His amazing love, we will not be able to help but serve our wonderful King! It will be our highest joy and delight, this knowing and serving Him!
It is for love of Him that I will wash dishes, sweep floors, do laundry, or make a meal. It is for love of Him that I will show love to an elderly, lonely neighbor. It is for love of Him that I will deny myself and serve others. And oh, the joy that we will find in true service.
This will be a service that is for no other purpose and reason than out of love and consecration to Jesus! It will be Him shining through His vessels and using us in the purpose for which we were created! This will be a service that takes no account of self, or of who notices or does not notice, but will simply be done because we love Jesus!
And someday, we will be rewarded by His voice saying, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord." What a wonderful day that will be!
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