Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.
2 Timothy 2:20
When you read this verse it might seem at first to be saying the the gold and silver vessels are the ones for honorable use and the wood and clay for dishonorable use. But look at what the next verse says.
Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
2 Timothy 2:21
Here we find that the use of a vessel is determined not by what it is made of but by how clean it is. Suppose you need a cup to drink something and there are two cups on the shelf, one made of gold and the other of clay. You take the gold cup down from the shelf and discover that it is dirty inside. But when you look at the clay cup you discover that it is completely clean. Which one would you use? The cleanness of a cup is more important than what it is made of.
God follows this same principle when choosing people to carry out his work. We all differ in out natural abilities and some people have skills that others don’t. It might seem that those with the greatest abilities would be the ones most useful to God. But God chooses his workers in the same way we choose what dishes we will eat out of. He chooses those who are morally clean rather than those who are the most talented.
Here are the three steps we must take if we want to be clean.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22
“Flee youthful passions.” The first is to flee from any desires that will lead us into sin. Since Timothy was young Paul told him to flee youthful passions. As we grow older there are many changes in our lives, including the kinds of temptations we face. Whatever age we are there will always be some ways in which we are tempted to do wrong so the warning to flee sinful desires is always applicable to us even when we are no longer youthful.
“Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.” It isn’t enough to avoid sin. Cleanliness requires that we cultivate positive virtues as well. In fact, it calls for us to pursue them. The picture presented here is one of running away from sin and toward righteousness.
“With those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” The final step is having fellowship with others who share our desire for purity. We can’t serve God fully in isolation from other believers.
If we compare ourselves with other Christians who are more talented we may be tempted to give up hope of being able to serve God effectively. On the other hand if we are people who are talented we may be tempted to think that our abilities are all we need to serve God effectively. Both of these attitudes are wrong because our usefulness to God doesn’t depend on our talents but on whether our lives have been cleansed from sin.