The Potter and the Clay

Posted on: July 7th, 2013

When I was young, attending school kept me busy enough, but from June through August I had a great amount of free time.  Like most kids, I enjoyed the summertime break, sleeping late, not having homework and tests.  However, boredom could also become a problem with “nothing to do”.  Thankfully, the city of San Antonio offered a summer recreation program which helped fill my time.  We could go to the center for arts and crafts, educational programs, and even sports.  It was an enjoyable time in my life.

I still remember doing an arts and crafts class on pottery.  It was something I had never done before or since, and it was fun.  We began by learning a little bit about the clay and pottery wheel.  The instructor taught us about keeping the clay and our hands moist, and the importance of keeping a proper and consistent wheel speed.  We practiced some, messed up, started over, and then it was time to create our “work of art”.  Some did a better job than others, but once finished we each had a pottery bowl of our own making.

That little bowl belonged to me; I made it and could do with it as I pleased.  It had no right or power to challenge me because I was its creator.  The clay was subject to my will, design, and purpose.  Surely we see how helpless the clay is before the potter.

God is the Potter of Creation and we are His clay.  We are just as powerless before God as the clay is before the potter.  Why then do so many feel they can challenge God or question His authority in their lives?  Why do some complain against God or feel that they can judge His actions?

Anyone so bold to confront God or to criticize His dealing with Creation does not understand God or their place before Him.  Those who would do such turn the natural order upside down by making the clay supreme.  As Isaiah said, “Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; For shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding’”?

Isaiah used a metaphor to show just how absurd it is for anyone to question God.  Now consider the story of Job, a man described as “blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil”.  Yet a series of tragic events tested his faith, and even though he never denied God, Job tried to justify himself.  By doing this he was in essence challenging God’s place as the Potter.  God responded with a series of questions to show just how foolish Job was.  He began by asking, “Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”  The point was Job did not know what he was talking about.  He could answer nothing but “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth.”  And then again he said “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.  You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

God is in every way our superior, not only because He is Creator, but also due to His Holy Nature.  Anyone who says they believe in Jehovah must accept His authority to do as He sees fit.  But more than that, they must also admit His goodness and trust Him.  God is love and He gives mercy and grace, however He also demands justice and punishes those who rebel.  So while His laws benefit those who obey Him, there are penalties for disobedience.

I have heard people blame God for their troubles or complain against His cure for sin.  “How could God do this or expect that from me” is their question.  Some feel this way because they do not want to repentance.  They refuse to change their heart and life to comply with His Will.  So when people make a spiritual mess of their lives they often refuse to give up their sins.  Such people keep on putting themselves and their wishes before God.

Please understand, we cannot continue to live in sin and expect God to forgive us.  A drunkard may not continue to drink, a liar may not go on lying, and a fornicator may not keep on fornicating.  God’s people must put off sinful acts.  As the apostle Paul says of Christians, “such were some of you.”  Now note what they were and what they gave up: “fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, and revilers.”

How can we blame God for our spiritual troubles when we are the ones who choose to sin?  So if we are in a spiritually difficult condition, it is of our own making.  Now I am not suggesting we always knowingly sin or deliberately put ourselves in a bad position.  Many do not know God’s Will and so they see nothing wrong with their choices and life-style.  Society’s view of right and wrong becomes their guide, and this in turn often leads them to sin.  However when they learn the Truth, they find themselves living contrary to His wishes.  Now they can either blame God and do nothing, or change and put off the sin.

What does this mean?  Well it means that a homosexual must put off homosexuality.  Someone living in an adulterous marriage must get out of the marriage.  A man and woman having sex before marriage must stop fornicating.  A liar must quit lying, a cheater must stop cheating, and a drunkard must put off drinking.  So the clay, you and me, cannot rightly question or accuse the Potter, God.  Remember what Paul said, “Now commands all men everywhere to repent.”

Terry Starling