I’ve always wondered why some people’s ministries have such lasting impact while others don’t. For example, John Wesley and John Sung experienced great revivals in their ministry. What was their secret if there was one? I believe it was their godly lives.
In 2 Timothy, Paul reminded Timothy to do his best to be a workman approved by God (2 Tim 2:15). He gives an analogy of a house containing two kinds of vessels to teach the key to successful ministry.
2 Timothy 2:20-21
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. 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.
There are two types of vessels: Honourable and Dishonourable. Paul is saying that we must aspire to be an honourable vessel by cleansing ourselves from what is dishonourable. It’s not the material of the vessel that is important but its cleanliness. A clay vessel that is clean is more honourable than a dirty gold vessel. The master can’t use the dirty ones.
As we clean our lives, we become honourable vessels, set apart to be used by God for good works. If we don’t cleanse ourselves, we remain dishonourable and not used for good works. In fact, our ministry might not even count for anything when the Lord returns. Isn’t that a chilling thought?
How are we to cleanse ourselves? The word “so” tells us this is linked to the earlier statement about cleansing ourselves. Paul gives Timothy three vital instructions:
2 Timothy 2:22
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
1. Flee ungodly desires
2. Pursue godly desires
3. Pursue it with godly people
Not only must we remove ungodly desires, chatter, quarrels, we must pursue what is good. We have to yearn for righteousness, faith, love and peace. One way is to keep close to God and repent of any sins in our lives.
This can be a solo adventure but Paul doesn’t want Timothy to be a spiritual “Rambo”. He wants Timothy to connect with other Christians. Not just any Christian but those “who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” We need to surround ourselves with the right people as we journey towards being of use by the Master of the house. Are your closest friends drawing you closer to God? If not, you might need to change your circle. John Wesley had a certain group of people he met for Bible study and prayer called the “holy club.” John Sung had the “Bethel Band”. What about you?
Our ministry will never be great if we don’t cleanse ourselves regularly of sin and wickedness. The inner victory needs to occur before outward victory can follow.