This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Then the word of the Lord came to me. He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.” (Jeremiah. 18:1-10)
As God so often does, he uses a visual object lesson here to make His word to Jeremiah as clear as possible.
Every person is God’s creation, made in His own image. He forms each one with the prospect of becoming a vessel fit for use in his kingdom. His desire is that each one will be filled with His love and shaped for His purposes, and that these will in turn flow out and fill others with His saving grace.
Some vessels, however, choose to remain empty of what God is offering. They are satisfied with themselves as they are, continually polishing their exterior and improving their surroundings, enjoying life’s bounty and perfectly content to be decorative and empty inside instead of useful and filled with God’s Spirit.
Other vessels are only partly filled. They try to receive what God has to give, but they never seem to get filled up; they always seem to be springing leaks. In these vessels, mercy oozes away through holes pierced by judgment; love leaks out through angry cracks; compassion evaporates from the surface of self-centeredness. What these pots pour out to others is limited by their own lack of supply.
Several of these vessels haven’t had any fresh filling in so long that the surface of what’s left is covered with scum. No one can see what’s beneath the surface, but it looks so unappealing that others don’t want anything to do with it.
When I get out of shape spiritually, God can still mold me for His purposes. I can’t reshape myself in this way; I have to put myself in His hands.
When I see that I’m in poor physical shape, I can stop ingesting what’s not healthy and start an exercise plan to build up my body. When I realize I’m in bad emotional shape, I can rely on a friend or a counsellor to help me to discover a better outlook. When I lack knowledge or skills, I can resolve to learn what will make me more productive and effective.
In a similar way, when I allow God to shape me, I will
- stop taking in what is unhealthy through my eyes and ears – what will pollute my mind and spirit
- build up my body by encouraging, praying for and supporting my faith family, in love and with patience
- look for the positive and seek God’s will and His way in every situation, and
- be committed to be a life-long learner of God’s Word and put it into practice in my daily life.
If I will put myself on the wheel, God will shape me in His hands for His purposes, and fill me to overflowing with His Spirit.