Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 35:2-4

2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

3 And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.

4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

The place that God had called Jacob to was of special significance to him. It was the same location where God had first appeared to Jacob, given him a vision of a ladder ascending to heaven, and had promised to be his companion. All this had occurred as Jacob was fleeing for his life from Esau, out in the middle of nowhere. At the time this location must have seemed like the farthest place from home, but now it literally was his home.

Jacob knew that this place had been sanctified by the personal presence of God, and as he examined his household, he saw that they were not ready to dwell there. Evidently members of his family and/or servants had pagan idols, perhaps a carryover from when they had lived under Laban’s roof.

Now was the time to officially set all of that behind them, though. The camp was purified, their sins were put away, and everyone changed their clothes, symbolic of putting off their old way of life and putting on a new, clean one instead.

This is an example of a very important theme in the Bible: that of purifying, cleansing, and dressing in fresh clothing. Anyone that has tried to live a life of discipleship knows that we have to refresh ourselves many times over. We are called by God, but then we go aside in the rut, and then we clean ourselves up and recommit again.

In fact, this month I am going to attend a spiritual retreat in the mountains that I go to yearly, which is one of the most sacred keystones of my life. Each time I attend I feel the presence of God more vibrantly than at any other, but before each visit I find myself taking inventory of where I’m at, in what ways I have lapsed in my discipleship, and how to clean my heart in preparation for going to meet my God.

The Doing Muscle- Judges 7:2-5

And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.
Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.


And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands
And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many
In the story of Gideon’s army, we learn how the Lord filtered his forces down, then filtered them down again. The first cut, in which all the soldiers with any fear were sent home, was not enough, there was more purifying that needed to follow.
In my own life I have also found that I am purified by degrees. For today there are certain practices that I must strive for, and if I accomplish them then that is well for today. But tomorrow…it is time to be purified even further.
There is a temptation when we have achieved our goals to not set new ones that extend further. It is all too easy to say that now we are “good enough,” but this halts our progress. The problem is that this complacency is soon followed by deterioration. Rather than let a milestone be the end of our journey, it is better to let it be a signpost pointing still onward.

Worthy Vessels- Summary

I have often worried about not being “good enough” to be useful to God. I have also heard that exact fear from others, even as I saw them doing wonderful things in His name. These experiences have convinced me that we often have a deep misunderstanding of what it actually means to serve God.

I believe that there are many who are perfectly ready to be an instrument in God’s hands, but are simply uncertain of how to behave as such. It is not only our sins that we must overcome in the path of discipleship, it is also our ignorance.

I wanted to conduct this study to see how one is meant to be of use to their Maker and their fellowman. What is required of us? What is not? How does one overcome feelings of inadequacy? Over the last several days I have found some governing principles which can help gauge what sort of vessel one is preparing themselves to be.

The Vessel of God Must be Clean

There are no prerequisites to coming to God. No matter where you are at in life, the next step to approaching Him is already before you. There are, however, prerequisites to becoming his servant. The path of discipleship exists in two halves. The first is one of seeking forgiveness, being washed clean, and made ready to receive the Spirit of God. The second is being worked upon by that Spirit to do God’s work and help our fellow man.
Now yes, these two halves of discipleship are mingled with one another. One does not seek forgiveness only once. One repeats that first process many times, even after getting started on the second walk of discipleship. Even so, there is a first time of coming to God, where one lets go of all their worldly ways, and commits to a life of forever “trying again.” Often this initial purifying is symbolized by the ordinance of baptism. Every repentance afterwards is then to simply return to that first commitment.
Once one has entered into that pact with God sincerely, then they are cleansed by the Spirit, and made ready to do His work. It is true that all people can strive to do good things to their fellowman, regardless of whether they are trying to do it with God or not. They can work to be a sincerely good person in their own right. But they cannot be His agent to do His good until they have let Him clean them and have taken upon them His Spirit.
John 13:4-8- He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

The Vessel of God Must Be Willing

There are those that would confess their sins, partake of the emblems of Christ, enjoy the blessings of being cleansed, and then stop there. Many of us come to the gospel out of a desperation for forgiveness, not out of a burning desire to do service.
And perhaps that is sufficient reason to begin, but we misunderstand the whole point of Christ’s doctrine if we try to limit ourselves to these initial steps only. We are not just meant to be cleansed, we are to be cleansed for a purpose. If our faith is geared towards returning our soul to God that is good, but it is supposed to be geared towards bringing back many others to Him as well.
Of course the desire to do this work is not something that we have to try and muster up within us. It doesn’t work to “make” yourself want to serve others. Rather this is the result of God’s purifying us with His Spirit. That Spirit does not only expunge our sins, it puts desires into our hearts that were never there before. It lights a fire that makes us want to be useful to God and our fellow-man.
Ezekiel 36:26- A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
2 Timothy 2:21- If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

The Vessel of God Does not Have to be Powerful

But as we feel that desire to be useful to God, we might naturally question whether we even can be. We might desperately wish to serve Him, but hesitate because of our own flaws. We might think that after we have made ourselves smarter, wiser, or more convincing we will finally be ready to do His work. We think to ourselves ‘how can I accomplish His purposes when I still don’t even have my own life figured out yet?’
There is a half-truth to all of this, because yes, to be perfectly honest, we are flawed and we are inadequate. We, ourselves, are genuinely not sufficient to do the work of God. That much is true.
But there are two things to remember. One is that the growth of character we desire does not come first and then the service of God second. It is actually the other way around. By trying to do the service that we are inadequate for, we grow to become the sort of person who can do it. Though that growth which we will experience is not enough to qualify us to ever do this work alone.
And that is the second thing to remember: that no one is sufficient to do God’s work. Not your far more successful neighbor, not the future you that has figured everything out. It is called “God’s work” because it is His work to do. He does not ask you to do His tasks, He asks you to let Him do them through you. And no matter how personally powerful you might ever be, it will always remain His miracle that you can bless the lives of yourself, your loved ones, the circle of all those about you, and return glory to His name.
3 Nephi 18:24- Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.
Exodus 4:11-12- And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

Individual Trials- Matthew 11:28-30

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden
Life is difficult, even without trials. For trials are moments given by divinity to test us, but even in their absence there still remains a world that is unfair and consequences for our wrongs. As Jesus put it, there yet remains “labour” and being “heavy laden.”
People speak of how they are hesitant to give themselves to Christ, because then all manner of trouble will come to them. But I’ve seen the shambles that we make from a life without Christ, the trouble is already here.

Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light
The only question, then, is which hardship would you rather endure? Consequences or trials? Consequences that are the retribution for your failings, or trials that are the crucible for your success? Hardship comes either way, so would you rather face it alone, or with a companion? Would you rather suffer your brokenness, or suffer the purification that makes you whole? Trials are never easy, but they are always better.

Individual Trials- Hebrews 5:8-9, 1 Peter 1:7

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:


Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered
If our own Savior required trials to be educated in the ways of righteousness, how could we claim to not need them ourselves? But why did he require them, and why do we? What is the value that makes them essential to our mortal experience?

And being made perfect
The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold, though it be tried with fire
The passage from Hebrews continues to say that Jesus not only learned obedience by his trials, he even attained his perfection through them. Elsewhere, Peter calls to mind the oft-repeated analogy of our trials being like a refiner’s fire, whose purpose is to burn away all of the corrupted dross until only the pure metal remains.
We are all basically good, but that does not mean we are all perfectly good. Each of us is fundamentally flawed in one way or another. Or to put it in other words, our core is Godly, but it is encased in corruption. Each trial we endure, whether one of pain, pleasure, or nature, is an opportunity for us to scorch off a part of the corruption and bring forth the Godly. Each of these test will require a difficult denial of self, each will be a humbling process. But this is the way that the God or Goddess within us rises.