This is the calling of the Christian life: to become gold and silver instruments in the hands of God, doing good works in the world, in his name, not our own.
What is it that Paul is challenging us to cleanse ourselves of here? He is very specific in the verses preceding our verse for today. He cautions us against false teachers who go about endlessly “quarreling about words,” which, “is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (verse 14) He tells us to avoid “godless chatter” because those who become habituated to such talk become more and more ungodly. “Their teaching will spread like gangrene.” (verse 16-17)
He also tells us what we should do. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the truth.” (verse 15) We are told that the “Lord knows those who are his, and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” (verse 19)
There is a lovely metaphor used here as well. We are told that every house has various articles for use, some made of gold and silver, and yet others of wood and clay. The former are used for special purposes and the latter for common purposes. This connects with Paul’s former admonitions because, as Christians, we are to be about the higher things, that is, we are to love God with our whole being and our neighbors as ourselves. We are to serve others in God’s name, to give without expecting in return, to make a difference for the good in the world. In doing these things in his name we are becoming like gold and silver vessels, being used by God for his special purposes. When we “cleanse ourselves” of the common, that is, of arguing over mere words, or of godless chatter that leads to dissension and the destruction of the Body of Christ, we will become holy and useful instruments to the master of the house, and we will be “prepared to do any good work.” This is the calling of the Christian life: to become gold and silver instruments in the hands of God, doing good works in the world, in his name, not our own.
Lord, help us to not get caught up in the uselessness of nitpicking arguments over words that destroy community and make us forget our true calling. Let us not become “godless chatterers.” Give us the grace to know, to love, and to serve you in all that we say and do. Help us to be gold and silver articles in your house. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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