Vessels and Packages
“The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” (Jeremiah 18:1-10)
The potter was working a work on the wheel—he was shaping the clay. In the process of shaping, there was something in the clay that was not conforming; it was not cooperating, not working with what he had in mind to do for it—it was marred. So, he set it aside to make something else with it, if he could use it at all. He made it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.
God has us in His hands and He is shaping us: He has purposes for us. He wants to make us into vessels—vessels unto honour for Him. But it lies in our hands whether that will happen or not. It lies in our hands whether we become marred vessels. It lies in our hands whether in the end God shapes us into something for destruction, or into something tolerably useful, or whether He is able to shape us into a vessel of honor. What kind of a vessel are you being shaped into? What kind of vessel are we allowing ourselves to be shaped into?
A vessel’s purpose is to contain something. Let’s consider another analogy—a package.
It means a great deal to surrender ourselves to be packaging. “I’m willing to be a package for God’s treasure.” Imagine. A package arrives at your home. You look at it. What kind of thought do you give to the packaging? There is really just one main idea—did it get the contents safely to you or not? If you look and see it all crushed and ragged and torn, you think “Oh, no! Is what is inside broken?” But if the package is all intact, you reach for a knife or scissors and you pitch into the package. You want to see if whatever was inside has made it alright.
God does that with us. Maybe folks don’t like me, or are critical of me—“his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible” (2 Corinthians 10:10)—poor packaging, in their opinion. But after the packaging is ripped open—suffered what it has to suffer—it shows something. At a birthday party recently, the children all pitched into a piñata. They whacked it and kept at it because they wanted what was inside. Finally someone hit it just right and a shower of candy came out and they fell on it like they were gold coins. It would have been an awful disappointment if that piñata had been full of trash.
God has designed for His children to be packages of grace and salvation. It isn’t the packaging that counts, but what’s inside. He has a lot of packages and does a lot of shipping. What He wants to come out is what is inside. Unfortunately, it often turns out in people’s lives that when sffering and trials come upon them, out comes trash. Something less than what God wants to put in there.
What are we letting God put in us? Are we consecrated to be broken for Him? A vessel unto honor is one that will do what the master has in mind and a vessel unto dishonor is one that won’t. In God’s house there are people that are perfectly consecrated—filled with the Holy Ghost. God can put them into all kinds of trials and problems, and what comes out of their lives will show just what God wants to show to folks. He can use them over and over, in all kinds of situations. And others are a mixed picture—sometimes they come out well and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they show what God has and sometimes not. It mars the image of His Son. Those vessels may be in God’s house, but they are vessels unto dishonor—they don’t give a true picture. Then there are folks that are not even vessels in God’s house at all. They don’t have the treasure inside at all.
What kind of package are you? Do you damage the treasures within? Have you somehow contaminated what should have been a picture of what God gave you? This is where the vessel has to be prepared for its job. If I have contamination inside—for example, pride—it will hinder the treasure within. It will flavor it and cause difficulties. Milk can get contaminated with another taste from the container. Something about this container gives a taste to all that is put in it. Do you corrupt or taint? Do you cause a different flavor to come out of the gospel by what you are? There is One that can clean you up, but you must acknowledge that you have something you need to be cleaned up from. And if you are not willing to acknowledge that, then God will stop using you in matters that it would harm, or maybe not at all.
What kind of a vessel are you?