We have explored what it means to be a vessel of the Lord, essentially an imperfect clay pot, filled with the Spirit to do the Lord’s will and purpose. A vessel that obediently takes direction from the King, serving as needed. A vessel is offered to the Lord to be used for His purpose.
But being by nature a clay pot, imperfect but willing to be used, there are some aspects of the vessel, like my attitude, that I need to work on if I want to be a container used for some purpose. Meditating on this I often think that being a vessel is like being a little milk jug. I have a little milk jug in my house that is old, broken and not so pretty, yet I use it all the time. I have often contemplated why I keep this old jug and in this I have learnt a few lessons about what it means to be a vessel for the Lord.
- Firstly, Jesus instructs us to be filled by the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18); this is a conscious decision to allow yourself to be filled. My little milk jug does not jump around refusing to receive its milk. But Jesus wants us to receive the Holy Spirit so that we will have something to pour out.
We cannot meet the needs of others out of our emptiness.
- Furthermore, in Eph 3:18-20, He wants us to “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Jesus wants us full to the brim because only then will He be able to “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Not many of us are willing to spend time in the Presence of the Spirit to receive from Him, let alone be filled to the measure of overflowing.
- The best little milk jugs are the ones who do the job like they are supposed to. Whatever you put into them is what they pour out. Jesus is looking for vessels which once filled, will pour it out again. You don’t see the milk jug refusing to pour out it’s milk. Acts 2 tells us that the apostles did not stay in the upper room having a holy huddle when they received the Holy Spirit but went out preaching the gospel.
God will only give you what He can trust you to give away to others.
Why would He keep filling us if we never bother pouring it out on anyone else? Archbishop William Alexander wrote a poem in which he comments on our churches today:
The churches ailment is fullness of bread,
eating her morsel alone!
“Freely you have received, so give,”
He says, who has given us all.
How will the soul in us longer live
Deaf to their starving call,
For whom the blood of the Lord was shed,
And His body broken to give the bread,
If we eat our morsel alone!
John 7:38 says that “whoever believes, streams of living water” will flow from them. Streams imply a flow, in and out.
Focus your life on being a flow of what is given to you. Plan your life on how to be a greater service to those around you, be a blessing.
- A vessel is focused on its purpose, to pour out what has been put into it. Therefore it has a willingness to be taken “hold of” by the user to fulfil its purpose. It is available. For this reason, a good milk jug will not be focused on how it appears to everyone else, for it knows that the world will discard or criticise what God uses. God delights in using what the world would not. It doesn’t matter that the vessel is broken, cracked, perhaps the wrong colour – all that is required is that it fulfils its function or purpose.
The more available and effectively a vessel fulfills its purpose, the more likely it will be taken “hold of” again.
- When the milk jug is used, it does not expect to be put back on a shelf for display, remembered and admired for how it was once taken “hold of” and used. Instead, the milk jug goes back on the shelf, waiting for the situation in which it can be used again. It’s desire is to serve. Are we the type of believers that are still remembering the one time God used us instead of preparing ourselves for the next time we will be used?
- Or are we the Milk Jug who has not been used for a while, and we retreat to the back of the cupboard, feeling useless, unappreciated, forgotten? We don’t keep ourselves clean and polished anymore. Instead, we collect dust and forget our purpose, hoping that perhaps, one day, we could be a flower vase. An excellent little milk jug patiently waits, is willing to wait for the situation in which it will be used of God and does not go about offering itself up to be used as a flower vase instead. A milk jug knows and understands its purpose and is willing to be used. It is available to the Master to do what it is designed to do. If you are functioning as a flower vase, doing something else because you don’t think God will use you, you know it is not what God designed you for. You may feel useful, but it is not your purpose, and you will never feel fulfilled.
- Perhaps you are the milk jug that has felt the wind on our face as the door closed in front of your face when you thought that God was going to use you. It felt good and right, and as you stepped forward, the Holy Spirit stopped it, and you could feel the wind on your face. If that is you, remember that a good milk jug is faithful. It doesn’t go off into someone else’s house or church who will use them, but instead waits on the shelf, recognising the Master of the house and preparing, waiting, being the best little vessel it can be, ready to be used by the Master when the time is right.
- A good little milk jug is focused on fulfilling its purpose, even when it is tired, leaking and dirty. It continues to do what it is required to do until the Master says it is finished and stores it back in the cupboard.
Being a vessel is about being faithful until your appointed time to work or rest has come.
- A good little milk jug is willing to sacrifice its comfort. It is willing to go into the fridge or microwave. It is willing to pay the cost to be used effectively in doing the work of the Master. Its availability and faithfulness are not dependent on mood or circumstance, but it is willing to suffer and pay the price if necessary as long as it fulfils its purpose.
- A good little milk jug does not have a high opinion of itself. It is willing to pour the water, the milk, the gravy and the cream. It does not say, “I will only pour the cream!” A good little milk jug will do whatever task it is called on to do and does not think “more highly of itself” (Rom 12:3) than it ought to. How many of us are willing to do whatever work is presented to us – be it cleaning, serving or preaching. Or do we have in our minds clear ideas of how we think we should be used in the Kingdom of God?
Considering the milk jug as a vessel has helped me evaluate my attitudes in my service to the Lord. It is one thing to say: “I serve the King.” But quite another to maintain a readiness to serve: empty of self and full of the Spirit.
Thank you, Lord, for these lessons on the attitude of a good vessel for the Lord. I long to serve you well, Lord, with a thankful heart, willing to be used in any way. Please fill me with the Holy Spirit so that what You have put into me, can be used to serve others and not just myself. Help me make myself available to You and not become high-minded or proud of my service to You. Help me complete the work you have assigned to me by being obedient, attentive to your voice, and running my race to get the prize.
Before: Offer Something as a Vessel
Next: Being Shaped into a Vessel
Increase the Size of Your Container