It’s like God spoke to me one day saying, “You are just a pot.” Think of a clay pot. I picture a giant earthen vessel about six feet tall that is round around the middle and slimmer at the top. It’s brown, made of unfinished clay and has the marks of the potter’s hands around the rim. “This is all you really are,” He continued. “As you come into this world, your pot is full of self. You cry when you’re hungry and whine when you don’t get your way. As you grow, your parents hopefully teach you that this kind of behavior is not acceptable and you learn to act in a more hospitable way with manners and kindness towards others. This is good yet it is also dangerous.
“One may think, as they grow older that the way to please Me is to change outside behaviors by trying harder and being good. This is why I gave man the Law. It is perfect for bringing man to redemption because it reveals to them their utter depravity and drives them to repent at the foot of the cross of grace so I can lavish on them forgiveness and mercy and AGAPE. Repentance is like taking your pot and dumping out your flesh. Your pot is full of self and eros, your goals and plans, your desires apart from me and this is SIN. You can not come to me without repenting, dumping out your vessel and allowing me to fill your pot.”
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that
this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Cor 4:7 NIV
Salvation is possible only by the grace of God, through faith. I spent years knowing this fact intellectually yet in truth I simply used my knowledge of God’s word to shine the outside of my vessel. I used verses to spit-shine the north side and doctrine to polish the south. Works make the west adorable and kindness made the east spot-less. But when people bumped into me, what spilled out was NOT agape.
As you walk down the road of life, what’s spilling out of your vessel? Have you become an expert at polishing the outside of your vessel, painting it with pretty pictures of holiness, decorating it with a ministry or two, adorning it with medals of righteousness?
I have stated that we do NOT need to learn how to love each other. We only have the capacity to express God’s agape love to the degree that we are filled with it.
YOU CAN’T LEARN AGAPE, YOU HAVE TO RECEIVE IT. When I act like a strife-full person it is because strife is what is filling my vessel.
When I am a demanding husband it’s because self is spilling out of my vessel. I can no more be an agape lover than can a pear tree bear oranges. I can not help but be angry and unforgiving, when that is what is inside.
When we scowls at the children, gossip about friends, and fail to act like Christ to our neighbor – why? Do we need a course on loving our children? Do we need to teach the youth the importance of not gossiping? Do I need to read the parable of the Good Samaritan just one more time?
We fail to reveal the agape love of God in our lives because of only one reason:
IT IS NOT IN US.
What is in us will spill out. Those that are daily walking in dependence and repentance, pouring out their vessel before a holy God, shall receive the promise of His Spirit, His agape love which shall be evident by what occupies the interior of the pot.
Times are hard and persecution prevails? What pours out? Times are good and blessings abound? What pours out? What spills out when my six year old acts like a selfish brat? Do I get angry and yell at her? Do I stop her and lovingly, yet sternly, discipline her? What pours out when my wife reacts to my foolish comment and mistakes it for ridicule? Is it defensively standing up for my opinion or is it apologizing for hurting her feelings and then lifting her up?
What has spilled out of you when reading this text and are confronted with deep questions regarding your profession of faith? Is it, ‘he’s an angry cynical man’, or ‘this gets me thinking’?
I may be able to muster up millions of wonderful pretensions but sooner or later, what is flowing out of me shall be revealed to all. The problem is that we tend to surround ourselves with those who have similar garbage in their pot so we all kind of smell the same. If you live in the dump, you soon become oblivious to the stench.
What IS the difference of someone really being a Christian? Is hell the only difference? The REAL difference is what is inside of me. Is my pot filled with self and my vessel painted and pretty or am I an earthen vessel filled with agape love that the Father has poured into me so that I can not help but spill it on others? Agape flowing out of John the Baptist didn’t look so syrupy, sweet to the Pharisees because they were unwilling to receive the agape of God. The multitudes of lowly people heard the same message and fell on their faces in repentance with a heart broken before God (the ‘fruit of repentance’). Agape truth may not be syrupy sweet to those that are perishing but to those being saved it is a tidal wave of good news.
“The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV
Father forgive me daily, wash me with the blood of your son Jesus and make me clean. Fill me Lord with your agape love that I may be a light in a dark place, fully assured of my salvation as a child and servant of your will. Thank you Lord, in Jesus’ name I pray, amen.