Summary: Learning how to become strong for the off-road times of life from 1 Timothy

“Adding the Options”

I will never forget the first time that I ordered a car. Gayle and I had just gone to Moores Hill 1st Baptist Church a few months earlier. Everything went well there except for our Toyota Corolla hatchback. We had purchased that car from an Uncle and it had seen some extreme use in our first pastorate. It didn’t start when it rained. It ran rough when the humidity was high. It started and ran perfectly when the temperature was 20 degrees below zero. In fact it was the only car that seemed to start with no problem at 20 degree below zero in Moores Hill. But unfortunately, there are not many 20 degree below zero days in Moores Hill, Indiana. But we were ready for every one of them. That poor Corolla had caused us enough trouble, enough missed appointments and enough long walks that one of my hero’s, Nelson Meyers, got a raise pushed through the Deacons, trustees and a special called business meeting with this one proviso…We had to use the money to buy a new car…a brand new car.

He sent us to a car dealer in an adjacent town and when we had ordered the car, he got the appropriate raise passed. What was tough was sitting down with a salesperson and looking at all the possible option packages and add ons that one can placed on a car. It was a daunting task for two young persons who had been accustomed to learning to like what we could afford. We got to pick colors, pin stripes, interior design. There were 7 or 8 different wheel packages, twenty-five interior colors and dozens of body colors. There were option packages that combined radio choices and custom mouldings. We were over whelmed by the choices that were available to us. We had never experienced a meeting like we had. There were so many options that we were almost rendered incapable of making a choice. Finally the salesman helped to narrow the choices by laying out some packages of options that were recommended by the manufacturer that allowed us to come to a decision.

Sometimes I think that the Christian life is like that. There are so many options available to us that we are often nearly paralyzed. We can build a life in Christ that is pretty plain. You can learn little and still inherit the Kingdom of God or you can spend a life time “soupping up” the basic model. Add the Greek and Hebrew, study homiletics and hermeneutics, get all the theological bells and whistles. In the end what you choose to drive is a choice you make. Perhaps I can help you today like that salesman helped Gayle and I many years ago, identify some common option packages that the manufacturer has identified and let you choose. Today, we are “Adding the Options.” And, depending on what you choose will determine how you are “Built Lord Tough.”

Our scripture passage today begins with verses twenty and twenty-one of chapter two, we read:

20 In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 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.

Those are your options. You can either be a clay, wood, silver or gold vessel. Recently I saw a sign on someone’s desk that said, "It may be that my whole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others." Everyone needs a bad example as well as a good one. That may be the purpose God will put us to. The Scriptures do not teach that only the righteous people are used of God. No, God can use anyone. God uses the basest of men; we all are instruments of his work. God used Judas, placed him in the midst of the disciples, even put him in charge of the funds. Jesus knew that he would betray him. Judas fulfilled the Scriptures and the predictions of the prophets on that night when he betrayed the Lord. So God can use anyone.

My friend Ray was wont to say, “The great question, however, is to what end, for what purpose is he using you?” Here the apostle is pointing out to Timothy that it is for one of two purposes. "In every house," he says, "there are vessels." That is true of all homes -- we have "vessels for honor," i.e., dishes we eat from, pots and pans we cook in, decorated vases, etc., are all vessels unto honor. They are not only useful but they are preserved, they are permanent, we want to keep them. But every house also has "vessels for dishonor" -- we have garbage cans, bedpans, trash barrels, wastebaskets, etc. We do not display them. They are useful, but they are not presentable. We may even intend to dispose of them, sometimes after only one use. Those are vessels of dishonor.

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