GODS WORKMANSHIP-HIS POEM
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10
I am His workmanship (Eph. 2:10). If I simply speak of the fact that the saint is the property of God I recognize the imperfection of God's property. The saint is not an absolutely perfect being who can make no advance. The saint as the property of God may be most imperfect, but, being His, I am His workmanship, and that means that He will take the imperfect thing and make it perfect (Phil. 1:6). Not in a moment, not by some mechanical readjustment of things, so that the imperfect is immediately made perfect, but by processes; by teaching, pain, discipline, affliction, baptisms, fire; by crushing, breaking, making, God will perfect. The first thing is that I am His. The second thing is that I am His workmanship. I never can read that word "workmanship" myself, and I dare say it is so with many of you, without the Greek word of which it is a translation singing itself into my heart, poema, which does not mean rhyming merely, but a thing of beauty, the thought of God revealed in concrete form that others may see it. I never can read the word "workmanship" without the familiar figure of the Old and New Testaments coming to mind, that of the potter and the clay (Jer. 18). There is no finer figure to teach the meaning of this truth than that. We are always in danger of spoiling the figure by looking too long at the clay, and at the wheel, and not sufficiently at the potter; yet we must see the clay and the wheel. The clay is the potter's property that is our first point. It is that when it is still an inert mass, without fashion, or form of beauty; nothing in it attractive. That is the first fact of saint ship: without form or comeliness, without beauty, I am His.
Now watch the potter. He takes the clay and puts it on the wheel. The process is very old, but watch it. What is the potter doing? His own foot is turning the wheel. His own hands are upon the clay. What is happening? In the mind of the potter there is a vision of a vessel for use and for beauty. I cannot see what is in the mind of the potter. I do not know the thing he is thinking. I am not familiar with it. Watch, his hands are upon the clay. It is plastic to his touch, and as the wheel revolves the thought that is in the mind of the potter is being revealed in the clay. He is translating his thought of beauty into an appearance of loveliness. "We are His workmanship." As clay in the hands of the Potter, so am I. Unlovely and useless is the clay until the Potter lay His hands upon it, yet what marvelous material it is for the Potter to use. God's hand is upon the saint, molding, making, perfecting something of beauty for all the coming ages. I am His workmanship as well as His property.
We may learn as much by the disparity as by the similarity in the use of all figures. We speak of the potter and the clay, of the fact that the clay has to be plastic in the hand of the potter; but there is the disparity, and it is at the point of the disparity that our difficulty exists. The clay has no will or wish or desire of its own, but we have will and wish and desire. That disparity reveals the very crux of the condition of saint ship. The true attitude is that of yielding the will, the wish, the desire, to the mastery and compulsion of God's will, God's wish, God's desire. To me the profoundest thing in life is submission to the will of God. It is the last thing. It is the rock foundation. It will be the final thing, the capstone with glory gleaming on it. To be in His will, willingly in His will, "as becomes saints."
That is the highest function of will, to will to do His will, God's will, so that I am to say, "Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect: but I press on": (Phil. 3:12) so that I am to say, Where He wills, what He wills, how He wills, when He wills; whether America, China, India, or Heaven, does not matter; whether to preach or be silent, to do more or to do less, does not matter; what He wills! Oh, soul of mine, see the vision and pray for strength to answer it. There is no man or woman of us here, comrades in the Christian life, who does not know that that is life, the clay willingly answering the pressure of the Potter. Be in His will. At the front? Yes, if He puts you there, with no mock modesty. At the back? Yes, surely, if He puts you there, with no repining. In His will. "As becomes saints.