20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ ” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). When we speak against our fellow Christians, we become evangelists for Satan. This concept is easily understood by the Church when applied as a deterrent for gossip or other externally directed accusations. Interestingly, we seldom if ever consider the implications when we are accusing ourselves. Most likely, I suppose, this is due to the fact that we know already or at least we seem to think we know, whether or not our accusations have merit, and therefore become not only our accuser and also our own judge.
I was once asked by a youth pastor that I had a great deal of respect for, if I felt that I could take over the drama ministry of the youth group. The previous leader had some formal training in the performing arts and had run the team for some time. I, in contrast, had never been more than a class clown, a fact confirmed by many testimonies including my own and had only been a member of the team for a few short months. I accused myself to be unworthy of the position.
The youth pastor wisely rebuked me, and I immediately took the roll of ministry captain. Despite my shortcoming, including an attempt to teach stage right and stage left exactly backwards, I was able to make a positive difference in many young people’s lives. I lead the team for almost seven years, six of which were after the youth pastor that commissioned me in the position, had left my church.
Now to the point of my ramblings, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:3:
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.
Remember our passage in Romans 9; we have not been given the authority to question God’s intentions as our potter. Some of us are being formed as pottery for noble purposes and some for common use. I submit that we, if asked directly which pot we would rather be formed into, would answer “Nobility Please!”, but if actually given a choice would choose the “Common Use” pot. It is one thing to desire greatness, yet entirely another to obtain it. I submit that no Christian or non-Christian can obtain greatness without the potter forming them into pottery for noble purposes. But, forgetting that our identity is defined by the potter, we assume the roll of the accuser and refuse to be made into more than we believe we already are.
Romans 8:1 declares, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. This simple, yet powerful decree is often undermined by the very ones it seeks to set free from condemnation. Again, when you decide that you are ‘not good enough’ to do or be the thing you are being formed into, you take on the work of Satan, accusing at the least your ability to be made into something more than you are, and at the most God’s ability to work in you. Do we believe God is unaware of our sin? What could you hide from God if you determined to? God is aware of even those thoughts you successfully cast down from becoming sinful desires and yet He still choose you for His purpose.
In John 13:6-10, Peter questions why the LORD would wash his feet and then refuses to be washed at all; “No, you shall never wash my feet”. Can you see even here that Peter was working against the potter? At least we can know that if we fail in this area, we are in good company. I suppose, Peter felt unworthy to be served by the Christ, but as Paul does not judge himself, neither should we. If Jesus wishes to clip my toe nails and comb my hair, I should allow Him to do what He has determined to do. Satan might loft accusations at me saying things like, “how can you allow Jesus to clip your toe nails when you know you have athletes foot, corns, and bunions?” This would be the very task Satan has been charged with, but it is not the task I should take on as my own.
Once Jesus explained that He must wash Peter’s feet, Peter does not stop accusing himself of being unworthy, he simply moves to the other extreme. Verse 9 records “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replies, “not just my feet, but my hands and my head as well.” Peter moves from “I’m not worthy for your to serve me” to “I’m so filthy that more than my feet need to be cleaned.” In both cases, Peter is taking the task of accusation upon himself. Jesus is intimately aware of all that you may seek to hide from Him, and yet again He has chosen you for His purpose. If He determines your feet are all that need cleaned, you can be sure, it is not because He is unaware of the last time you took a shower.
To close, if we are in fact saved, then we are saved for His purpose. Whether that purpose is common or noble, is neither a decision for us to make, or a point for us to concern.