All Kinds of Vessels Are Important In God’s HouseJune 19, 2015
Like New York City and other metropolitan cities around the world, Moscow is known as a city that never sleeps. But during the summer months, it is a Russian custom to take an extended “holiday” away from the fast pace of everyday city life to country homes and cottages. There, families and friends can enjoy a respite before returning to their busy worlds of work and school and lifestyles that also seem to never sleep.
But all summer long, RENNER Ministries must continue the work of ministering to the abandoned and orphaned, the incarcerated and institutionalized, the homeless and homebound, and those who find themselves in need of a touch from God or who are just hungry for more of Him. And when someone comes to Christ for salvation through one of our services or outreaches, I think about the fact that no vacation in the world can satisfy a tired, thirsty soul like living waters from Heaven washing over his life and making all things new. Continuing strong through the summer months may not always be convenient — but we are making a huge impact in so many lives, and that impact is for all eternity!
That’s why Denise and I want to especially thank you and all our faithful partners who generously share your finances with us and faithfully support us in prayer year-round. Without you, we simply couldn’t fulfill our assignment here in the former Soviet Union. But because of your faithfulness, we aren’t missing a beat as the work of God continues through the outreaches of RENNER Ministries! We are so grateful to God and to you for what is being accomplished in the Russian-speaking world through this ministry.
Today as I was praying for you and all our partners, I kept thinking over and over of the many people who have confided in me over the years, “Rick, I play such a small role in the Kingdom of God.” This statement was so impressed on my heart in prayer that I want to address it in this letter.
There are many different roles in God’s Kingdom, and each role is significant and important. The devil often tells people that their role isn’t important because it’s less visible than the role of others. Let me address that misconception by first telling you about an experience I had many years ago in an antique store that specialized in ancient relics.
When I looked at the shelves of that antique store, I was amazed at the many antiquities that appeared to have been sitting there for decades, covered with a thick film of dust. An archeologist’s treasure trove, this shop was also a housekeeper’s nightmare because it probably hadn’t been cleaned in years! I sneezed as I accidentally breathed in dust while removing a beautiful vase from a very high shelf.
From where I stood as I entered the store, it appeared to me that the higher shelves were loaded with interesting historical items, such as vases of marble, jasper, and alabaster. I grabbed a stepladder and stretched upward on my toes so I could peer deeper and make a closer search of the relics on that top shelf. My curiosity paid off as I discovered genuine Roman antiquities made of silver and gold. Astonishment is the only word I know to describe the intense emotion that rushed through me as I reached out to take hold of those precious artifacts.
The lower shelves were also filled with mementos and memories from the ancient world. Those artifacts were primarily made of stone and clay. I was in awe to hold in my hands pottery from the Iron Age, oil lamps from the Byzantine period that had been dug from the soil of Israel, and authentic pottery from the ancient city of Corinth that was still completely intact.
As I stood back and looked at the floor all around me, I could see that I was surrounded by less exquisite ancient items that were primarily made from wood, such an ancient harness used for oxen, feeding troughs, and Egyptian baskets woven of ancient reeds from the Nile River. The thought hit me strongly that whether these different objects were made of what we might call superior or inferior material, they had all endured the test of time, surviving for thousands of years.
Before me were vessels of gold, silver, wood, clay, and stone, all of which had survived generations to sit in that shop as a reminder of an ancient people from the past. The rich, the poor, the upper class, the lower class, the educated, the uneducated, old and young — all the various classes of society were represented in the array of articles and utensils displayed before me that day.
When I saw this amazing mixture of gold, silver, wood, and earthen vessels, my thoughts went to Paul’s words to Timothy in Second Timothy 2:20, where he told the younger minister, “…In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.”
I want you to notice that Paul began this verse by writing about “a great house.” Paul reached into the secular world and borrowed an example to make his point. In his mind, he saw magnificent homes that belonged to the rich upper class. When he wrote about a “great” house, he used the Greek word megale, which depicts something very large. The word “house” is translated from the Greek word oikos, the regular word for a house. But when the words oikos megale are used together, it no longer refers to just a regular residence or house like any citizen might live in. Instead, it paints the picture of a very large house.
Remnants of large, elegant residences are still evident today in cities like Rome, Athens, Corinth, and ancient Ephesus. Such homes belonged to the wealthy upper class and were both splendid and grandiose. Paul used the illustration of these impressive houses to depict the majesty of God’s house, which is the grandest and greatest of them all. Paul went on to tell us that just as in the large homes of the wealthy, in God’s house, “…there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and earth….”
The word “vessels” is from the Greek word skeuos. It refers to a vessel, container, or utensil. In ancient times, there was a wide array of skeuos in a house or residence, and each had a specific, designated purpose. The word skeuos could be used to depict everyday utensils, agricultural equipment, baggage, instruments of various sorts, vases used in worship, kitchen items, and elegant articles of gold and silver put on public display.
Vessels made from “wood and earth” were usually functional items used for everyday household use. The wooden items were also used as containers for water, flour, oil, or wine. Vessels fashioned from “gold and silver” were evidently intended for exhibition and were therefore displayed in visible places in the homes of the rich. Gold and silver objects were meant to be seen and appreciated rather than to serve a practical function. What an interesting array of vessels that made up those houses!
With this example, Paul teaches us that all kinds of vessels and people are needed in God’s house. Imagine how dysfunctional a house would be if all the vessels in it were made of gold, silver, precious stones, or highly priced porcelain. You couldn’t function in such a house! You would probably be afraid to even move about in a house where everything was made of precious materials. For a house to operate normally, it needs regular pots and pans! The utensils in the kitchen may not receive the same adulation as the more elegant objects displayed in the living room showcase, but kitchen utensils are indispensable for the proper functioning of a house. Just try cooking bacon and eggs in porcelain vases or in utensils made of silver or gold, and you’ll be quickly reminded how important regular ol’ pots and pans really are!
By using such imagery, Paul lets us know that all kinds of vessels — people with different functions and roles — are in God’s house. Although they are different from each other, each is important and serves a specific purpose. Just as it was true of the vessels in those fabulous ancient houses, there must be different kinds of people with different positions, functions, and purposes in God’s house. In fact, His house is filled to overflowing with human vessels whose various gifts and talents are essential to the effective functioning of the house. Some people have visible positions; other people have less visible positions. But each person is vital to the operation of God’s house.
As you ponder your own role in God’s house, it is important for you to remember that some people’s roles are more visible — and others have a less visible part to play. Yet everyone’s role is vital and of great consequence. If those working behind the scenes didn’t do their part, those with more visible roles wouldn’t be able to do theirs.
Don’t ever let the devil badger you into thinking your role is not important because it’s less visible than others. Your part is very important in God’s house!
Next month, I’m going to share with you why it’s important to embrace your role in the season you’re in so you can complete every assignment God has given you and has ordained you to fulfill. Meanwhile, how can Denise and I and our team be praying for you? We pray for you every day, anyway, but hearing from you about your specific needs helps us pray more effectively. And we want to hear your testimonies too! When your prayers are answered and you receive victory in some area of your life, we celebrate that victory too. We’re so thankful to have a small part in your answer to prayer as we add our faith to yours.
We love God and thank God for you!
We are your brother and sister, friends, and partners in Jesus Christ,
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families