Summary: This is the final part of the series and focuses on being a vessel of honor.
Sacrifices Part 6 Conclusion: You Are A Vessel Of Honor
As I sat working on this message, my mind kept reflecting on my first cousin who died on Friday. My first cousin was younger than me and the last time that I saw him was when we buried my father. My heart is heavy because I am unsure of his salvation as he seldom went to Church and his lifestyle was not that of a Christian. Throughout his life, the vessel that God gave him was abused and the life he lived was not one focused on living for Christ. I want to be able to know that he was saved, but only God knows now. Our lives are special to God and should not be wasted with our living any way we choose. When we understand that we are vessels of honor and that our bodies should be treated as a living sacrifice, how we view our actions will change. His life is over, but there is still time for us.
This message will be the conclusion of this series on sacrifices. This morning I want to share with you that as a Christian we are called to be both a living sacrifice and a vessel of honor. The whole purpose of this series was to bring us to the point of deciding if we are truly making sacrifices for God in our daily lives and if we are taking the vessel that He has honored and bringing dishonor upon it. This morning we are going to talk about being a living sacrifice and a vessel of honor versus one of dishonor.
Romans 12:1 records the following: “Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” In the Old Testament, whenever someone presented a sacrifice, it had to meet God’s specifications. For example, one requirement was that the animal had to be without blemish. It was the responsibility of the presenter to ensure that the sacrifice met God’s standards. In the verse we just read, Paul states that we should present our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice. This means that we must choose to sacrifice our bodies to God and that this sacrifice must conform to God’s “requirement.” This sacrificial offering of ourselves becomes our spiritual service of worship. The two things I want you to take away from this verse is this – our bodies (physical, mental and spiritual) belongs to us and therefore it is up to us to present it to God. The second thing is that we cannot present just anything to Him; we must find out what His requirements are and make the decision to get the sacrifice in order (spiritually and mentally) and then present it. The allowances (shortcuts to fully serving God) that we make in this life as it pertains to our Christianity demonstrate our level of sacrifice. I believe that when we understand the difference between a vessel of honor and one of dishonor we can begin to see just how special we are. When we understand just how special we are, we find the strength through the Holy Spirit to make the changes we need to make. So let’s begin with the vessel of honor.
I. The Vessel
For the purposes of this message, I will use the following definition for vessel: “a utensil (instrument or container) for holding something.” A vessel is something that is used to hold something else. It could be a fork, spoon, cup, glass or any other piece of equipment or apparatus. A boat or ship is sometimes referred to as a vessel which holds or carries people or merchandise. We are vessels and what we carry as Christians is the Spirit of God and God’s word. We are vessels for God’s Spirit and we can carry Him into the world. We also carry the word of God that has been delivered to us into the world and through this word the world around us is changed. I will speak more to that shortly.
I told you that we were created to be vessels of honor and that we have value. But how is that value determined? There are six things I want to cover with you that determine the value of something. First is the purpose for which it was made. A car is made to carry a few people in it on land while a large plane is made to carry many people in it in the air. The most expensive car will not be more expensive that a 50 passenger airplane. So the purpose for which something is built impacts its value. The second thing that impacts value is the design. Take two cars for example. Both are made to carry people on land, but both may not be designed the same. If you compare a C Class Mercedes to any Ford product, most would choose the Mercedes if they could afford it. But, the McLaren F1 is about 20 times more expensive that the most expensive Mercedes. It is a sports car with a price tag ranging between $1.5 and $4 million dollars. So the design of something also impacts its value. The third thing that impacts value is the material from which something is made. A ceramic cup will be a lot cheaper than a crystal or gold cup. The value of the raw materials going into an object will increase or decrease the object’s value. The fourth thing that impacts the value of something is how it is used. When Nikki and I got married, we received as most couples do, china for our wedding presents. Our “good” china is used on special occasions. Because the china is more expensive and thus more valuable than our regular ceramic plates, we do not use them everyday. Also, our regular plates are not used when we can get away with using paper plates. Paper plates are especially useful for outings like picnics. So depending on the function (i.e. banquet vs. picnic) you would choose the plates accordingly. The fifth thing that impacts the value of something is who uses it. A good friend of mine told me a story about someone he knew who was out playing a round of golf in Texas. While he was on the course, he got behind former President Bush. At one point former President Bush hit his ball near the other guy’s ball. As they approached their balls, the guy told former President Bush that he was about to hit the wrong ball, that he was getting ready to hit his ball. Former President Bush asked him if his ball also had the presidential seal on it and that ended the discussion. A golf ball used by the president is more expensive than my golf ball – not because they are made of different materials, but because who is actually playing with it. If Tiger Woods and I brought two boxes of the exact same golf balls and played a round of golf with them, at the end he could sell his balls for a lot more than I could because he used them? As a matter of fact, I could not sell mine for anything. So who uses something has an impact on its value. The final thing that impacts the value of something is who owns it. My wedding band has a lot of value to me, not based on its cost, but what it represents to me. If you were to take it, you could view it as just another ring. When someone purchases or is given something they place a value on the object that will likely be different from the value that others would place on the same object. This is why we can look at each other despite our short comings because God owns each of us and He places the value on us for He loves us. How God values us is different from how we value each other. His criteria is different and it would be wise for us to understand how we can increase our value to Him. But back to my point: God made us to be vessels of honor but it is our choice to become them. Everything about us was made to be a reflection of the one we serve so if we are not reflecting God in our image, manner or actions, it is not because He is not within us, but because we are choosing not to do it. So let’s go to the heart of this.