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9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit (9) Fruit of Gentleness
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쏝ut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23 ...
       
 
  
 

A Prepared Vessel

Manmin News   No. 113
8491
March 03, 2008


"Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:20-21).

Workers are always needed in God's kingdom but the need becomes more urgent as the time of the last harvest approaches. This is because, as Jesus tells us in Luke 10:2, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest," the end of the cultivation of mankind is fast drawing to a close.

1.A Prepared Vessel

Even if God is seeking laborers for the harvest, He cannot put to use all those who volunteer; only those who are prepared and possess strength can answer God's call. 2 Timothy 2:20 reads, "Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor." When there is a large selection of vessels small and large and of various types, which one would the owner use?
More than anything, a vessel has to suit the purpose for which it is to be used. It would be even better if the owner found that suitable vessel to his liking. Another important aspect to be considered is the cleanliness of the vessel because no matter how suitable and likeable the vessel may be to the owner, an unclean vessel could not be put to use.
These conditions also apply to our spiritual life. "Suiting the purpose" refers to one's possession of proper qualifications to be used in various capacities. Regardless of the duty, the most integral of such qualifications are spiritual in nature; the individual must equip himself with the word of God and store up prayer.
Next, a vessel that is "to the liking of his owner" refers to obedience. No matter how talented and strong an individual may be, if he does not obey, God cannot put him to use.
Finally, the most important qualification to be satisfied by a prepared vessel is found in its cleanliness. "A clean vessel" signifies a sanctified individual who has cast off evil from his heart. No matter how precious and large a vessel may be, an unclean one could not be used by God. The more one sanctifies himself and makes himself into a clean vessel, the greater strength with which he can carry out his God-given duty he will receive, and the more perfect his obedience will become.
God's kingdom is not accomplished by the might and the wisdom of man. As it is a spiritual war waged against the enemy devil and Satan, we need spiritual power (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 4:20). Spiritual power and strength come from casting off of sin and is dependent on the degree of one's sanctification and for these reasons God is always looking for sanctified laborers equipped with spiritual strength.

2.The Delay in Achieving Sanctification Despite the Effort

Sanctification is a whole duty each child of God must perform. God's workers who have been assigned specific duties will desire sanctification all the more. Why, then, are they still in the process of "preparing" themselves? Why is sanctification slow in coming despite their effort through prayer and fasting?

First, the effort the individual made was not specific or persistent.

The person may have a vague desire to become sanctified but does not delve into thoroughly dissecting himself. If he were to pray only vaguely, "Help me become sanctified," the transformation will be slow in coming. He must specify each and every kind of sin and evil in him, rend his heart, and bind himself to God in prayer. He must abhor the fact that there are fleshly attributes remaining within him. After that, he must stay alert and live a life of self-restraint to prevent himself from repeating the same mistakes. As he casts off elements of sin and evil one by one in such a manner, the person will begin to notice differences within him month after month.
In some instances, the individual may just become content and satisfied with having discovered untruths within him. Repenting once of them, however, does not mean they have been cast off. If you leave the roots of the weeds in the ground when weeding them out, they are bound to grow back. By the same token, a mere discovery of sinful attributes within yourself does not resolve the problem. You have to uproot the foundation of the sinful attributes and until you become certain of the fact that you have uprooted them all, you always have to keep an eye on yourself and cling to prayer.
If much is discovered, one must first root out the largest of the roots; eradicating of the larger roots will be followed by the eradicating of the smaller roots. Try and focus first on the eradication work on a number of the biggest and the most difficult attributes to cast off; the rest will come off easily.

Second, the individual has yet to discover himself.

In such instances, it is difficult for one to understand the kind of untruths that lie within because he has wrapped the untruthful heart and is deceiving himself. Without fathoming his own frame of thought and righteousness, one is unable to see himself clearly. Here are three examples.

1)The individual thinks only of the good that he has done and sweeps under the rug the wrong he has committed.
Suppose a church worker was marching onward for God's kingdom and one day destroyed peace with those whom he works with. On account of his stubbornness and insistence on what he feels is right, others have created for him a cause for conflict. If the person holds fast to his own frame of thought and righteousness, he will not discover himself. 'I did all this for God's kingdom,' he will think to himself. 'I never intended to destroy peace.'
If the person truly never intended to destroy peace, he would have put himself in the others' shoes even if his judgment were correct in the first place. As long as the others have not committed untruthful or sinful acts, the person would place them above himself.
Furthermore, as this type of individual would insist on having his desires fulfilled, he would even do that which is against the wishes or the directive of his superior, and still have the audacity to argue that his boss is making things difficult for him. This type of mindset does not seek to accomplish peace. Leaving peace aside, such an individual is unable even to abide by common sense and the most fundamental of order. Still, he will only provide excuses for himself. "I did not intend to destroy peace," he will say. "I want to be at peace with everyone but I cannot adjust myself to the desires and will of others." Even though he confesses as such with his words and without deed and truth, as he comforts and thinks well of himself, 'I have indeed tried to be at peace with all,' sanctification cannot come about quickly for him.

2)The individual thinks only of the wrongdoings of others and sweeps under the rug his own wrongdoings.
Suppose Deacon "A" has done something wrong and Deacon "B" exposed the act and embarrassed Deacon "A" before others. The two soon developed ill feelings towards each other and the relationship between the two soon grew cold. Now, who has done wrong?
On the one hand, Deacon "A" says, "Deacon 'B' spoke of my mistakes and thus destroyed peace." On the other hand, Deacon "B" counters, "I have only told the truth but Deacon 'A,' in his narrow-mindedness, destroyed peace." In short, each of them is arguing that what he has done is justified in light of what the other has done.
If the two desired sanctification in earnest, they should not have thought of the wrongdoings of the other first. Being of sober spirit, each must be able to examine himself first. The same can be said and argued even if one has done wrong on 99 out of 100 occasions; he must be able to repent of even that one wrongdoing he has done.

3)The individual, even after discovering untruths within, denies their existence.
If one has admonished with the softest words a person who has done him wrong, if the words were uttered even with the slightest of a grudge or indignation, the former must repent of it and root that out. Some people are quick to say, "I have told them such with love" or "I have said those things only out of my love for them" even if their words of admonishment were based on a grudge or indignation. They may feel guilty but deny to the end, assuring themselves, "I do not hold a grudge." This is the result of spiritual arrogance that enables some believers to think that they are strong and firm spiritually to a certain extent.
What would have a humble individual desiring sanctification in earnest done? Even if he held no grudge, the individual would examine himself once more. 'Were my words in true humility with which God would be pleased?' he would ask himself. 'Have I overlooked what that person was feeling and hurt him in any way with my harsh words?'
An individual in denial also becomes discouraged even for a moment when others achieve or receive what he has always sought or desired. If he had cast off jealousy and envy from his heart, there is no way that the individual would have felt that way. The discovery of even a momentary disappointment should compel the person to focus his prayer on that sinful attribute and strive to root it out.
Some people, after quickly turning back from the way they initially felt, deny that they were at all disappointed in the first place. "I have tried to rejoice in the truth," they would say. "My heart rejoices with the truth." Even when certain untruths are discovered from within and the person turns back from them right away, without the acknowledgment of how they initially felt they will repeat the same mistakes and wrongdoings. Without having their foundation transformed, sanctification can only be slow in coming for such people.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not too late. We must, with complete humility and the desire for the grace with which we can discover ourselves, root out the foundation of all untruths that are found through fervent prayer stemming from the heart. May each of you thus become an irreplaceable instrument in God's kingdom, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ I pray!


 

 

 
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