Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What are we talking about here?

What does it mean to be useful for service? Why ought we to place value on usefulness? How do we maintain this perspective of usefulness throughout the Christian life, amidst difficult trials and painful inner turmoil? Because – let’s face it – the reality is that the walk of a Christian becomes more challenging as he or she matures in the faith. To some this sounds like a strange reality. But the truth is the more we come to understand about God, His Word, and ourselves (as sinners in need of His daily grace), the more we find ourselves fainthearted and at times, overwhelmed by the deceitfulness of our own hearts. The more glorious reality in this, however, is that the walk of the Christian also becomes much sweeter. In those times of frailty and weakness, even in those times of darkened sinful machinations, the maturing believer experiences the preciousness of Christ more clearly. As he carefully exposes his heart and mind to the truths of God’s Word and brings himself under sound preaching, draws near to the presence of the great Friend of sinners in prayerful meditation – the seasoned Christian enjoys the benefits of his faith more and more despite facing trying times.

Dr. John MacArthur preached a sermon entitled, “Characteristics of a Useful Vessel,” in which he says (in reference to 2nd Timothy 2:21): “Being useful here is like a vessel that is honorable. This is an analogy. The word vessel is skeuos in the Greek, it means a household container. It is a domestic term. It refers to domestic gear, a plate, a platter, a serving dish, a serving bowl. The master of the house, the despotes, the ruler of the house, has certain vessels that are honorable. They are honorable because they are sanctified. They are therefore useful for every good purpose”. So, we could say that to be useful is to be sanctified. Dr. MacArthur goes on to provide insight into what it means to be sanctified: "By truth, washing of the Word, Spirit-filled, less inclined toward sin, holding this world loosely, quick to seek the Lord amidst trouble, prayerful, submissive". One who is useful, one who is sanctified - will embody these characteristics.

There are so many depths to plumb in this study of usefulness. And for the redeemed woman, many elements of usefulness will be quite unique from that of a redeemed man. Not better, not higher, not more superior - but unique. A biblical woman is useful. Isn't that what we all desire, long for? To be useful? Yet, in our sin-clouded vision we think usefulness means valuable or esteemed. However, the useful woman finds her greatest value - her greatest usefulness - in being low. We tend to think that if we are not "fulfilled" in our job, our relationships, our daily activities, that something is missing and we must find it. What is actually missing is a proper understanding of biblical usefulness. We are constantly longing for something, we are restless. We try to move from one exciting and monumentous event to the next. We can't stand to live in anonymity or without recognition. Even if the recognition comes merely from our children, friends, or co-workers. But even that is not affirmation of usefulness. Being useful is being set apart unto the Lord, prepared for every good work. Those good works are typically done without any notice. And the highest good work that the redeemed woman can do is tend to her own soul, for keeping it is what makes her most useful for service to the King!

That is what this little place is all about – seeking to know, understand and love what it means to be useful for service!

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