I am Useful

It’s Not All About Me

Based on the gift they have received, everyone should use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God.  If anyone speaks, his speech should be like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, his service should be from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever.  Amen. I Peter 4:10-11 HCSB

My cat is convinced everything is about her.  She’s an outside kitty, so she has a lot to deal with.  Every car has a driver who is contemplating how to swerve up in the yard and flatten the tabby.  Every twig snap is the signal that something is stalking the cat.  Every time I walk out the door, she demands I stop and pet her, because why else would I be outside?  From her feline perspective, the entire world revolves around her.  The cat needs a reality check.  She’s a mere part of the world, not the center of it.

Sadly, I am much like her.  I tend to filter every event by how it relates to me, how it benefits or encourages me, how it hinders or frustrates me.  I’ve even done that with this week’s topic.  “How is ‘being useful’ helpful to me? Well, it makes me feel satisfied, like I’m a part, a helper.  I enjoy having a purpose.”

But it isn’t all about me. And that’s why I love these verses in 1 Peter.  The apostle tells us that God has given us each gifts to make us useful, but our own intrinsic satisfaction with a job well done isn’t the purpose.  To be sure, when God uses me, it satisfies me, but that’s not the goal.  The goal is that God would be glorified through Jesus Christ.  To Him (not me – or my cat, for that matter) belong the glory and the power forever and ever.  God truly is the center of the universe.

God has gifted each of us.  And Peter tells us God expects us to use those gifts.  If we attempt to do the same ministries on our own strength, we will fail, burn out, and flub up.  The tasks God gives us are only doable in His strength, using the gifts He gave us.  No wonder the gifts are called the “varied grace of God.”  The definition of grace is unmerited favor, something we get without deserving or earning it.

God gifts some as speakers, some as servants, some as encouragers, some as pastors and some as administrators.  We do nothing to earn those gifts.  We aren’t even strong enough on our own to use them.  But through God’s strength, we are useful.

Why?  To glorify the Gift Giver.

It’s all about Him.

I am Useful

Do You Think God Can’t Use You?

“…he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:21, NASB

I don’t know who to credit this to, but I had to post it. I hope the original author will forgive me–I certainly didn’t write it. I was at my local Bible bookstore and saw it on a tee-shirt and, well, frankly, it made me tear up. Useful? Me? I’m just a simple housewife in the middle of no-where, Nebraska. Useful. He says so.

God is so good, isn’t he?

Do you seriously think God can’t use you?

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rahab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
Peter denied Christ
The disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced
Zacchaeus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer

Lazarus was DEAD

I am a trophy of grace

Not Left on the Shelf

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me. ~Philippians 1:6-7 NASB

Partakers of grace. That’s a different kind of trophy. Not the kind that is won, set up on the shelf, and left to collect dust. We, the prize of Christ, the proof of His power and of His grace, are also instruments of that very grace. Commissioned to participate in His Kingdom not only as jewels to His crown, but as citizens and ambassadors of His love.

I received a dictionary about twenty years ago—a nice one. Hardback, embossed with my name and everything. It was a prize, a trophy of sorts, for an academic achievement. It’s the only trophy from my high school days I still keep on the shelf. Not because I use it to brag about accomplishments long since won, which is not the point of this post, but because it’s useful. It doesn’t serve merely as a decorative dust-collector. It has a commission in my life and continues to be useful.

Jesus didn’t win us to His kingdom simply to put us on His display shelf. His love and good intentions go so far beyond that. We have been called to display His character to the world. Called to bring Him praise with everything we do. We’re a unique kind of trophy. Won for His glory and commissioned with purpose.

Has the dust begun to gather? Seek His kingdom. Participate in His gospel. Approve the things that are excellent. Let Him fill you with the fruit of His righteousness. Partake in His grace.

There is much to do. Praise God, His grace does not leave us on the shelf.