One of my favorite images contained within scripture is found in Jeremiah chapter 18.
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.
And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.” Jeremiah 18:1-6
As the text implies, these words were spoken to Israel and addressed their rebellious heart condition. Verses 7-11 explains that when a nation or kingdom would turn from their evil ways, the Lord would relent of the disaster that He had planned for them. Likewise, if evil is committed, which included not listening to the voice of the Lord, He would relent of the good that He had planned for them.
If this principle was in full force today, may I say, our country would be in serious trouble. However, in the era in which we live, God has extended amazing grace towards our rebellion, desiring that no man perish.
Having entered into a New Covenant with God, through the precious blood of Jesus Christ, we as individuals, stand before God as a people whose sins have been forgiven. What a glorious age this is to be alive to serve the living God.
Now back to the potter. It is beneficial for us to picture ourselves on the potter’s wheel. A potter uses various tools such as needles, fettling knives, ribs and scrapers; just to name a few. They are all intended to alter the clay in order to make it into something useful and pleasing to the eye.
However, God has no need for these tools when it comes to creating us for His use. He has a multitude of ways to shape us and mold us to conform to the image of His Son.
Second Corinthians 3:18 says we are being changed into the image of the Lord from glory to glory.
Here are just a few things God uses in His work of transformation:
1. The new birth. God changes us radically at the moment of salvation by imparting new life into us. The old creature has passed away, the new creature has been born. Immediately, without any effort on our part, we are lifted onto the potter’s wheel and there we remain until death do us part. Sounds like a marriage, doesn’t it?
2. His written Word. All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
3. Temptations. The Biblical meaning of temptation is a trial in which man has a free choice of being faithful or unfaithful to God. It can also be referred to simply as a test or a test of faith. We think of Abraham’s test of faith as an extreme test of His faithfulness to God. We often face temptations or tests and the end result can often have short term or long term consequences. We may be left with bitterness or we may find ourselves rejoicing and giving thanks.
4. Life’s occurrences such as natural disasters, job loss, illness or the death of a loved one. The test can also be of a positive nature such as an unexpected refund or a report that a friend has been released from the hospital. God is waiting for our response. Will we give thanks and praise for his provisions or will we fail to recognize His grace? Surely the reader has experienced some of these events that have tested your faithfulness to God or perhaps you understood them as corrections from the Lord.
In my own life, God used a cancer diagnosis to correct my waywardness and draw me back to Him. It was one of the most painful times and one of the most memorable times of my life and I thank God for it.
Because we are sinful beings, we have a natural tendency to want to avoid difficult situations and react to them with willful stubbornness. Some people walk away from God in the midst of trouble and some people run to God. The next time a trial or temptation enters your life, which way will you choose?
We are hurting ourselves and the body of Christ when we do not yield to the correction of the Lord. Let us not be so rigid that we are unwilling to abandon our long held beliefs when we receive biblical instruction from a reputable Pastor, teacher, brother or sister in the Lord. We can all learn from each as we submit to the Word and the Spirit of Truth.
When we face temptation or trials let us remember our Lord’s instructions:
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)
Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you. (1 Peter 5:6)
If we are truly His, there is no escaping the Potter’s wheel. Let us willingly submit to His correction and be quick to repent when we fall short. Let us remain pliable in the hands of our Maker.
Do we not know that we are clay pots that God has deposited His treasures into? (2 Corinthians 4:7.) Just think about that. We are vessels that God has filled with treasures. What are these treasures? The Holy Spirit and the gospel, along with all the accompanying truth. There remains no other treasure more valuable than these. However, we can easily tarnish our witness and reputation when we speak contrary to the Word of God or become involved in questionable activities. We can either lead people astray or lead them to God. We have a great responsibility towards God and towards each other.
God loves us so much that He is not willing to leave us in the same condition in which He found us. He will continue to conform us; comparing His handiwork to His beloved Son. Let us forge ahead, submitting to holy correction; allowing God to mold us into a vessel that can be used for His glory.