Twelve Ways to Be Useful to God
A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot always arrived half full.
The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream:
‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.’
The bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.’
Thankfully, God uses cracked pots! You do not need to be perfect for God to use you. We want our lives to count for something. If you want to be useful to God, here are twelve keys:
1. Know that you are loved
God uses you because he loves you. David says, ‘For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies’ (v.10). This is where it all starts – knowing that you are loved by God.
2. Worship the Lord whatever
God is looking for worshippers. David says, ‘My heart is steadfast, O God... I will sing and make music... I will praise you, O Lord’ (vv.7–9). Respond to the experience of God’s love by worshiping him with every gift that you have – not just privately but also in public (v.9) – not just when you feel like it but ‘steadfastly’ – in difficult times as well.
3. Honour God in your life
God honours those who honour him. David writes, ‘Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth’ (v.11). This is David’s ultimate desire. It is the same desire that is expressed in the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, ‘hallowed be your name’ (Matthew 6:9).
Lord, thank you for your great love for me that reaches to the heavens and for your faithfulness that reaches to the skies. I pray today that your name will be honoured through everything I do and say.
4. Do what ‘the Father’ is doing
The Pharisees, who were deeply religious, had become corrupted, legalistic and rigid. They criticised Jesus because a man paralysed for thirty-eight years had carried his bed on the Sabbath.
Jesus is in communion with God and is the beloved Son of God who does everything the Father wants him to do. He cannot be separated from his Father. He is one with the Father.
Jesus is God: ‘he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God’ (v.18). Yet Jesus is also the obedient Son of his Father. He said in response to those who wanted to kill him: ‘I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does’ (v.19).
Rather than initiating your own plans and asking God to bless them, try to see what God’s plans are and join in.
5. Listen to God
The people of God got themselves into trouble, as we see in today’s Old Testament passage, because they did not listen to God (Judges 6:10). Jesus says the key to life is to listen to him and believe: ‘I tell you the truth, those who hear my word and believe him who sent me have eternal life and will not be condemned; they have crossed over from death to life’ (John 5:24).
Even Jesus says, ‘I can’t do a solitary thing on my own: I listen, then I decide’ (v.30, MSG).
6. Do all the good you can
You cannot earn your salvation by ‘doing good’. However, the evidence of a life of faith is a life of doing good. Jesus himself, we are told, ‘went around doing good’ (Acts 10.38). Jesus says, ‘For a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned’ (John 5:28–29).
As John Wesley said, ‘Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.’
7. Seek to please God
I find this one of the hardest things to even begin to put into practice. It seems so natural to seek to please myself. Jesus said, ‘I seek not to please myself but him who sent me’ (v.30). To live a life seeking to please God involves a complete U-turn. It is not only a one-off U-turn but it is something that you have to try to put into practice every day. It is not easy!
Father, help me to listen to your voice, to discern what you are doing and join in – not seeking to please myself but rather seeking to please you.
8. Cry out to the Lord for help
The people of God were in trouble once again. They had done ‘evil in the eyes of the Lord’ (6:1). As a result they were oppressed (v.2) and ‘reduced to grinding poverty’ (v.6, MSG).
The turning point came for them, as it so often does for us, when they ‘cried out to the Lord for help’ (v.6). I am so thankful for the many times in my life when God has answered my cry for help. Whatever difficulties and challenges you are facing today, cry out to the Lord for help.
9. Know that God is with you
God raised up Gideon and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior’ (v.12). Gideon said to God, ‘But Lord... How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family’ (v.15). The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you’ (v.16).
Jesus, has promised that he will be with you always, until the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
10. Know your weaknesses
Gideon is another example of God using cracked pots! Gideon said, ‘How can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family’ (Judges 6:15). I often feel that God cannot use me because of my weaknesses. But sometimes God works through our weaknesses better than through our strengths.
Personally, I draw great comfort from the words of the apostle Paul: ‘Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me... For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
11. Obey God fearlessly
Gideon ‘did as the Lord told him’ (Judges 6:27), even though he risked death (v.30). I find that I am often timid in the face of opposition. However, the opposition we face is nothing compared to what Gideon and, certainly, what Jesus faced. As Joyce Meyer says, ‘When fear knocks on your door, let faith answer!’
12. Be God-confident
The secret of Gideon’s power was that ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon [him]’ (v.34). Don’t be self-confident; be God-confident.
God does not need large numbers. In fact he said to Gideon, ‘you have too many men’ (7:2). He does not want the people to think it was their own strength that saved them. He reduced the numbers from 32,000 to 300 (vv.1–7).
We do not need large numbers to see a nation transformed but we do need the power of the Holy Spirit. If you are confident in God, he can work through you as he did through Gideon.
Lord, I need your Holy Spirit if I am going to fulfil the calling you have given me. Please send your Holy Spirit upon me today. Come, Holy Spirit.
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