October 10, 2017 • Life for Leaders
“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?”
Yesterday, I began reflecting on Isaiah 45:9, noting how tempting it is for us to become the “arguing clay pot” when God acts in ways we don’t understand or appreciate. Today I want to point out a glorious implication in this text, something we see even more fully in light of Christ.
In the context of Isaiah, God is the potter and Israel is the clay. God is molding Israel according to his plans and purposes. What was once true of Israel is also true of us. God is the potter and we are his clay. He is in the process of shaping us, so that we might be everything he has created us to be.
In the New Testament book of Ephesians, we glimpse a moving picture of God’s grace. This grace not only saves us, but also remakes us. We see this most profoundly in Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We are saved by God’s grace, and this salvation is not just life after death, but also a new way of living now. God’s grace renews and remakes us. By grace, we are God’s handiwork, and God has wonderful things for us to do.
God is no amateur potter, but an artisan who has already begun to shape us into a masterpiece. God sees potential in us that we cannot envision. He has hope for us far beyond our expectations. He will use us to do more than we imagine, if we allow him to work in and through us. As we read in Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you think of yourself as God’s handiwork, as a work of art that he’s perfecting?
How is God shaping your life right now?
Where is he smoothing rough edges?
Where is he strengthening and polishing you?
Gracious God, what a marvel that I am your handiwork. What a blessing! What a word of encouragement!
As you know, Lord, sometimes I don’t feel much like your handiwork. I feel more like a lump of unformed or discarded clay. Yet the good news of the gospel is that, through Christ, I have been made new, and am in the process of being perfected by you.
O Lord, help me to join you in this process. I don’t want to impede your good work in me. May I become all you have envisioned me to be in this life, even as I wait for the perfecting of your work in the life to come. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: God’s Grand Plan: A Theological Vision (Ephesians 1:1–3:21)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.