If a man therefore cleanse himself from them, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, meet for the Master's use, prepared unto every good work.' -- 2 Tim.2:21
Paul had spoken of the foundation of God standing sure (2:19), of the Church as the great house built upon that foundation, of vessels, not only of gold, silver, costly and lasting, vessels to honour, but also of wood and of earth, common and perishable, vessels to dishonour. He distinguishes between them of whom he had spoken, who gave themselves to striving about words and to vain babblings, and such as truly sought to depart from all iniquity. In our text he gives us the four steps in the path in which a man can become a vessel unto honour in the great household of God. These are, the cleansing from sin; the being sanctified; the meetness for the Master to use as He will; and last, the spirit of preparedness for every good work. It is not enough that we desire or attempt to do good works. As we need training and care to prepare us for every work we are to do on earth, we need it no less, or rather we need it much more, to be -- what constitutes the chief mark of the vessels unto honour -- to be prepared unto every good work.
If a man cleanse himself from them' -- from that which characterises the vessels of dishonour -- the empty profession leading to ungodliness, against which he had warned. In every dish and cup we use, how we insist upon it that it shall be clean. In God's house the vessels must much more be clean. And every one who would be truly prepared unto every good work must see to this first of all, that he cleanse himself from all that is sin. Christ Himself could not enter upon His saving work in heaven until He had accomplished the cleansing of our sins. How can we become partners in His work, unless there be with us the same cleansing first. Ere Isaiah could say, Here am I, send me,' the fire of heaven had touched his lips, and he heard the voice, Thy sin is purged.' An intense desire to be cleansed from every sin lies at the root of fitness for true service.
He shall be a vessel of honour, sanctified.' Cleansing is the negative side, the emptying out and removal of all that is impure. Sanctified, the positive side, the refilling and being possessed of the spirit of holiness, through whom the soul becomes God-possessed, and so partakes of His holiness. Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit' -- this first, then, and so perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord.' In the temple the vessels were not only to be clean, but holy, devoted to God's service alone. He that would truly work for God must follow after holiness; a heart established in holiness' (1 Thess.4:14), a holy habit of mind and disposition, yielded up to God and marked by a sense of His presence, fit for God's work. The cleansing from sin secures the filling with the Spirit.
Meet for the Master's use.' We are vessels for our Lord to use. In every work we do, it is to be Christ using us and working through us. The sense of being a servant, dependent on the Master's guidance, working under the Master's eye, instruments used by Him and His mighty power, lies at the root of effectual service. It maintains that unbroken dependence, that quiet faith, through which the Lord can do His work. It keeps up that blessed consciousness of the work being all His, which leads the worker to become the humbler the more be is used. His one desire is -- meet for the Master's use.
Prepared unto every good work.' Prepared. The word not only means equipment, fitness, but also the disposition, the alacrity which keeps a man on the outlook, and makes him earnestly desire and joyfully avail himself of every opportunity of doing his Master's work. As he lives in touch with his Lord Jesus, and holds himself as a cleansed and sanctified vessel, ready for Him to use, and he sees how good works are what he was redeemed for, and what his fellowship with his Lord is to be proved in, they become the one thing he is to live for. He is prepared unto every good work.
1. Meet for the Master's use,' that is the central thought. A personal relation to Christ, an entire surrender to His disposal, a dependent waiting to be used by Him, a joyful confidence that He will use us -- such is the secret of true work.
2. Let the beginning of your work be a giving yourself into the hands of the Master, as your living, loving Lord.