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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Some of my fondest memories growing up were times when I stayed with my grandma and grandpa on their small farm. I can remember waking up early in the morning to the sound of my grandma working in the kitchen preparing breakfast. I can also remember a large pot that she would use to prepare food for the noon and evening meals. This was a special pot that would be used to cook foods that needed to simmer a while, such as stew or pinto beans. It was not a fancy pot. It was an old, large, heavy pot, its handles were cracked and it was stained by many years of use. But that old pot served a noble purpose and there is no telling how many meals our family shared together that were prepared in that old pot.

I also have memories of another pot at grandma’s house. It was a pot she kept in the bedroom. Though my memories of this pot are not quite so fond, they are just as vivid. Grandma called this pot the “slop jar”. It was also called a “chamber pot” and other more colorful names that I won’t mention. At the time my grandma and grandpa didn’t have at indoor toilet. Their toilet was an old outhouse that set about 30 yards east of the house. While it was not a problem to go to the outhouse during the day, at night it was a different story. In the summertime, snakes were a concern and in the winter, cold was a concern. So at night the “chamber pot” was the toilet. Every morning grandma would empty the chamber pot, wash it out and place it back in the bedroom in an inconspicuous place. Though the chamber pot was necessary, its purpose was not nearly as noble as grandma’s bean pot.

My memory of these pots at grandma’s house brings to mind the words of Paul in II Timothy 2:20-21. Paul writes, In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Paul’s message to Timothy (and to us) is that we cannot be an instrument of noble purpose for the Lord and be an instrument of ignoble purpose (being polluted by the filth of the world) at the same time. That would be much like using the same pot for cooking meals during the day and for a chamber pot at night. As repulsive as that sounds, it is exactly how we appear to the Lord if we seek to do noble service for Him while at the same time indulging the evil desires of the flesh.

Paul makes it clear that this cleansing from the ignoble is an individual responsibility. He says; If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes,… Paul continues his exhortation in verse 22; Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

While it is true that Jesus paid the debt for our sin on the cross, and we are saved by grace through our faith in Him, we each have the responsibility to shun the evil desires of the flesh and to cleanse ourselves from that which makes one unsuitable to be a vessel for noble purpose in His service. It is our choice whether to be a “bean pot” or “chamber pot”—we cannot be both.       -Wendell Ingram