Are You the Sanded or the Sandee?
August 25, 2004
August 25, 2004
by Rose Murdock
We often cry out to God and say, "Lord use me! I’m a willing vessel! Use me for Your purposes!" And, of course, God will use us for His purposes. However, I think our heart's cry when we say this is that we don't just want God to use us to help build His kingdom, but we want to be used as a vessel of honor, rather than a vessel of dishonor. Do you know that God can ‘use’ a person to bring about His purposes and that person can still be lost?
Look at Judas. He was used for God’s purposes, wasn't he? He was used to betray Jesus into the hands of those who killed Him. It was God’s purpose for Jesus to be killed and bear our sins and sicknesses on the cross and Judas was the vessel used to bring about that purpose. Since Judas was used to bring about God’s purpose then shouldn't he be honored? No, of course not. He betrayed Jesus. He had a choice. He could have resisted the temptation. God gives us a free will, to choose right or wrong. If it wasn't Judas it would have been someone else. The choice to follow the Lord doesn't come with an obvious question—Do you want to reject God, die and go to hell? It’s much more subtle than that isn't it?
The Bible says that in a great house there are many vessels, some to honor and some to dishonor (2 Timothy 2:20). This reminds me of sandpaper. Sandpaper is a tool that can be used to smooth out the rough edges of a sculpture to make it beautiful. The more the sandpaper is used on the sculpture the more beautiful the sculpture becomes (Up until the point when it is finished. Too much and it starts to destroy it). However, the more the sandpaper is used, the less valuable it becomes. Once that sandpaper has lost it’s sandiness then it’s no longer worth anything. Has it been used to accomplish something beautiful? Yes. But it is not something useful anymore.
Are we going to be a vessel that allows the Lord to shape us into what He wants and as a result become a beautiful sculpture, or are we going to be the sandpaper that rubs off the rough spots on others and as a result end up worthless ourselves? We may think we are being used of God when we speak words of truth to others concerning their faults or sin etc. and we may be correct. God may use what we say to bring them closer to Him. It might be painful for them but if they have a willing and humble heart they can use what you said to draw closer to the Lord and allow more rough edges to be sanded off. But what happens to you in the process? You may feel good that ‘God used you’ to ‘minister’ to this person but if it was done contrary to the ways of God—the ways of love and humility—then you are not being ‘used’ but being ‘used up’ and before long you will not be able to be used by the Master.
Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:22-23,
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." KJV
These people apparently speak for the Lord, take authority over the demonic and do many other things in His name but they are also workers of iniquity. I see these people as the sandpaper. They may be used to do things for the Lord but they themselves are not vessels of honor. They rub other people the wrong way and God will use that to perfect others, just as He can use any trial or tribulation we go through to bring us farther into perfection and maturity. But while they are rubbing others the wrong way they are losing something of themselves. They want to perfect everyone else, but not themselves. They think they are a tool that brings correction and growth to others, and God might use them to do that. But the price they pay for that is that they could come to a place of dishonor and possibly even lost forever. Why? Because they will not allow themselves to be molded by the Master. They are too busy looking at everyone else’s imperfections. Those are tough words but I know that I myself would rather see the truth now rather than later after it’s all said and done, wouldn't you?
Joseph’s brothers were used to put Joseph in a position that was rough for many years but he ended up in a position of honor. Joseph allowed himself to be molded by the Lord to prepare him for his position of honor so he wouldn't be full of pride and arrogance when he got there. He needed to be able to forgive his brothers so that Israel could be saved. Weren't Joseph’s brothers used to bring about God’s purpose? Joseph said they meant what they did for evil, but God meant it for good in order to bring about the result of saving His people. (Genesis 50:20). His brothers were malicious and selfish. They were the sandpaper, and yes God used it, but no honor goes to them for what they did.
We need to be careful when we have a strong desire for God to use us. We need to make sure we are allowing Him to do the work in us that is necessary first. We need to allow Him to shape us into what He desires us to be. God doesn't want to use us to correct or perfect others by rubbing them the wrong way, irritating them, speaking harsh words—even if words of truth—to them. But He wants us to allow ourselves to be shaped into that vessel of honor and then the vessel we've become can be used properly to build up, edify, strengthen and equip the rest of the body so all of us together can accomplish the purposes of God. Any truth that we speak must be spoken in love, humbly considering that it’s only by the grace of God that we ourselves can even see the truth (See Galatians 6:1 and Ephesians 4:15). Yes, sometimes we will speak the truth, in love, and others will not receive it. They might get offended or accuse us of being narrow-minded or whatever. The attitude of our heart is what is the issue here.
God doesn't need you to perfect others. There are plenty of ways His people can be sanded and matured. Of course we might slip up from time to time causing those around us to be rubbed the wrong way. But rather than looking for opportunities to ‘perfect’ others, we need to be looking at whether our own ways please the Lord first.