Fine China and Cheap Plastic (2 Timothy 2:20-26)

We used to have some unique antique glass and china plates that were on display on some wall shelves at one time in our home. I say “used to” because, well, they are no more. Raising five boys with flying balls and frisbees and all else, those items bit the dust; and anything that was of value got put away in cabinets and drawers.

And unless your home is a slim cut away from being a museum, that is what you do with fine dinnerware. And you only bring it out on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and maybe Easter.

Most of our meals in my house over the years have been served and eaten from some cheap plastic plates and bowls. I actually see on a daily basis some of the same plates I saw when I was a kid growing up. And our grandkids eat off the same plates and drink from the same sippy-cups as did their fathers. Tupperware is pretty amazing. But, if any of these plastic plates break … oh well, throw them away, no big deal.

Paul had similar thoughts in mind as an illustration when he wrote the following to Timothy…

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

Paul is telling Timothy to not be ordinary and pulled down by the mundane and that of low value. Rather he should aspire to a higher purpose and use. And why not! God’s work, especially of communicating and living out the gospel, is far beyond the mundane.

But the daily, the mundane, the worthless, the eternally valueless pleasures of a mere moment … all of these call to us, particularly in younger years …

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. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Don’t let the more active sensual desires and urgings of life drag you down, says Paul to Timothy, but rather choose higher virtues out of a pure heart.

And again, Paul urges his spiritual son to not let mindless arguments gain a life of their own and build divisive followings. Positively there is great value in precision on God’s Word; but negatively, to allow arguments to develop over insignificant minutia is worthless and counterproductive for the family of God. There is so much positive to be done is serving God that is thwarted by quarrelsome persons who divide the body into camps.

Believe me from the inside-out, it is difficult to not get resentful of those who devolve into such divisive politics in a church family. But the better leader is one who does not let this drive him internally, while externally the godly leader will be one who gently seeks to instruct oppositional personalities to a better and broader understanding of the truth. Perhaps, by God’s grace, these actors will see the bigger picture, realize their efforts are actually being used by the Evil One to do his bidding, and hence flee from this pattern of behavior.

Where you have opportunity to be a leader in the church community, are you keeping your eyes upon the big prize? And as a member of the body, are you finding yourself often in the midst of controversies and arguments that, if you step back, are not advancing the Kingdom, at least not the right kingdom?

Choose to be silver and gold, don’t settle for wood and clay … or plastic.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed 3-4 hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and am the editor of a Baltimore/Maryland sports blog called "The Baltimore Wire." My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with a Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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