One morning I was running late to church to lead the weekday ladies’ Bible study class. Two stoplights from my destination, the driver of the only car in front of me sat through the green light without making a move while she talked to the person in the passenger seat. I “patiently” waited behind her while the light turned red.
When the light turned green for the second time, it looked as if she might not make that one either, so I hit my horn. No, not a friendly, quick, little “toot.” It was an irritated, long blast. She began to move very slowly and I barely made it through the intersection before the light turned red again.
“I’ll show her,” I thought. As soon as I had the chance I darted around her, tossing back one of those icy glares as I sped by.
I approached the last light and got in the right lane to make my turn. I glanced in my rear view mirror. She was also in the turn lane. One block from church I was hit with a horrible possibility. What if the woman in the car was headed to my church? At that time, a community group met in our building on Tuesday mornings. She would see me go in and know I was one of those “Christian” women.
“No,” I reassured myself. “What are the chances? Surely she is headed to one of the homes in the neighborhood.”
I slowed to make the turn into the church parking lot. Another furtive glance in the mirror confirmed my worst fears. She was also turning! I scooted into the one remaining parking spot close to the doors while she drove further down the lot. I was inside the building and headed to my classroom before she got her seat belt unfastened.
Conviction & Repentance
Immediately, the Holy Spirit pressed in with conviction. Had those few moments gone differently, God may have used me to encourage the driver or share Jesus with her. When our paths crossed in the parking lot, perhaps God would have given me an opportunity to invite her to Bible study. But my anger and impatience did not make me “useful to the Master” that morning for encountering the woman. In fact, my heart attitude also compromised my fitness to lead that morning’s Bible study group.
I submitted to the Holy Spirit and responded to His conviction with repentance. I also prayed my sinful actions would not have a negative spiritual impact on the woman. I asked Him to completely fulfill His purposes for her life. Unfortunately, I was not blessed to be a part of what He wanted to do that morning.
In Paul’s second letter to his “spiritual son” Timothy, he emphasized how vital it is for believers to pursue holiness if we want to be effective instruments for God’s use. Here’s how Paul put it:
If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work. Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
2 Timothy 2:21-24, NLT
Pursue Holiness to be Useful to God
If we want God to work in and through our lives to reach people for Christ and to carryout His eternal purposes we must “keep ourselves pure.” The Greek word means to “cleanse, clean thoroughly, purge.” If we want to be fully useful to God we must rid our lives of any and everything that could limit our usefulness.
Although Paul does not give us a complete list in this passage, he does tell Timothy to “flee from” some things and to “pursue” others. The list below comes from the larger passage of 2 Timothy 2:
The condition of our lives – our speech, behavior, attitudes, motives -determines how useful we are to God, how effective we will be for His eternal purposes. A believer, who purposefully strives to live a holy life, can be powerfully used by God.
And God does command us to strive for holiness.
Do your best (work hard, study, be diligent, strive) to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed… 2 Timothy 2:15a
I want to be an instrument God can use! How about you? Let’s ask Him to show us any areas of our lives that prevent or limit the way He wants to use us. Let’s commit to a new start in 2015! (Miss the invitation to participate in New Start 15? See it now.)
How could God use you this year? Is there anything in your life right now that’s preventing God from using you to the fullest potential?
- Your invitation to participate
- Kathy’s personal commitment
- New Start 15 Bible Reading Plan
- New Start 15 Facebook page
- New Start 15 Suggested Resources
- January 5 New Start 15 blogs by contributors Angela Mackey and Heather Riggleman