Jeremiah 18:5-6 (NRSV)
Then the word of the LORD came to me: Can I not do with you, O house of Israel, just as this potter has done? says the LORD. Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God is reminding Israel that a human being, like every other creature on earth, is fashioned according to the desire and purpose of God. Moreover, God holds a unique vision for each person and constantly works to shape and reshape one’s heart and life toward the perfection of that vision.
God shapes us through instruction, through circumstances that test and refine our character, and especially through our relationships. The people we love or depend upon can have a profound effect on the shape and focus of our lives. Unfortunately, we know from experience that relationships do not always shape us toward spiritual perfection. Living with a selfish, abusive, or critical person, for example, can cripple our growth and lead to misshapen ideas about who we are, what God is like, and what a loving relationship looks like.
On the other hand, God also uses people in our lives to influence us for good—teaching us how to give and receive love, how to be kind and patient, how to forgive when we suffer an injustice. We see evidence of the Potter’s hand in our spiritual mentors, in godly parents, and in loyal friends. For reasons we don’t understand, our Creator chooses to incarnate his goodness and mercy in the people who become his hand in shaping and molding us toward perfection, that is, into a likeness of Jesus.
It is sobering to realize that we each have the privilege and responsibility of being the Potter’s hand in the world around us. Whether we love a wayward child through a crisis, forgive an unfaithful spouse, or act generously toward a stranger on the commute train, God uses us to smooth over flaws and failures in our fellow humans, to touch and reshape the people around us who need kindness and love. Moreover, in the very act of being used, we find ourselves being shaped and smoothed and remade toward a perfect image of Christ Jesus.
FATHER, I confess that my words and actions have often marred rather than enhanced the spiritual masterpieces you have put into my life. I am thankful that you are in the business of redeeming and reshaping all that falls short of perfection. Make me a worthy and effective instrument for your perfect goodness and glory.
Romans 9:20-21; James 5:19-20
How has God used someone in your life to reshape you toward Christ’s perfection?