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"Make Yourself Useful To God"

2 Peter 2:5-8

By Drew Zuverink

"Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self control, and self control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:5-8)


Every Christian has a deep longing to be used by God. Every Christian dreams of hearing, "well done, my good and faithful servant." Because of our longing to be useful and to recieve God's approval, many of us feel a massive burden to do more. Many of us feel like we aren't telling enough people about Jesus, aren't warning enough people about hell, aren't pointing out other people's sins enough, or aren't speaking against our sinful culture enough. While our desire to impact people for Christ is a good thing, I wonder if we are going about it in the wrong way. I wonder if in our quest for God to use us, we have failed to become useful people.


If you read the New Testament you will be hard pressed to find commands for the ordinary church member to evangelize or to fight against a sinful culture. Even if we do find a few passages, the overwhelming thrust of the New Testament is working on oneself, growing in godliness, becoming more sanctified, and putting to death all that belongs to our old self. In other words, the major thread stretching all the way from Matthew through Revelation is not hey, go out and speak out instead it's, hey, work on yourself. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't speak out against sin or share the gospel, it just means we should work on ourselves first. As the common expression goes, "first things first." By working on ourselves in this way we become the kind of people God wants to use.


All of us can think of Christians who we don't want representing our faith. Maybe it's the protestor on the street holding a "God hates gays" sign. Maybe it's the dating couple that's living and sleeping together. Maybe it's that one Christian we all know who's conversation style isn't winsome but instead it seems like they're always trying to pick a fight. Whatever the case may be, we all know that not every Christian is currently a good candidate for an evangelist. Instead of praying for God to use them, they ought to consider what God would like to change about them so that they would become more useful to him.


The problem I am addressing is that too many Christians are trying to impact others without working on themselves first. I think this is a strategy that is bound to fail. To be honest, I wonder if some well intentioned preaching has unintentionally contributed to this problem. Pastors will often preach messages that encourage us to make an impact, to share the gospel, to speak truth, and to live a life of service to God. While all of this is absolutely true, we should add clarity to this message by making sure that before we send our entire church out to make disciples, we should disciple our church first. We need to make sure that we are sending people into the world who are gentle, slow to anger, winsome, forgiving, charitable, and full of the fruits of the spirit. Otherwise we might be placing a burden upon people who aren't mature enough yet with a feeling of responsibility to go out and do something for God. That isn't fair to our church people and it isn't fair to the people outside of the church either.


2 MISTAKES TO AVOID

There are two mistakes we can make. The first is to say that God only uses perfect people. The Bible clearly teaches that God uses broken people all the time. The second mistake is to assume that every Christian is mature enough to speak on behalf of Christianity. The Bible doesn't teach that either (James 3:1). So if you are feeling an overwhelming sense of responsibility to go out into the world as God's mouthpiece, slow down for a second. Ask yourself if you're ready to be sent yet. Better yet, ask the Christians around you if they think you're ready. Have you been discipled? How is your temperament towards people who disagree with you? How are you doing in the areas of gossip, slander, venting, anger, and taming the tongue? Do you embody the fruits of the Spirit? Of course none of us are perfect, but are you at least decently mature in these areas?


My prayer is that God would help us all, by revealing to us through his Holy Spirit, the ways in which we need to make ourselves more useful for him. May we all take seriously the charge to sanctify ourselves into the image of Christ, because If we are honest, many of us have been slacking in this area - I know I often do. Little do we realize though, that our lack of sanctification makes us less useful to God which impacts the people around us. So let's handle first things first and work with God to become useful before we beg him to use us. What I think we will find is that God will use us in surprising ways when we shift our focus from how do I change other people to how do I change myself?

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Keep up the good exhortations.

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