“Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” (Romans 9:21)
Pottery comes in various sizes, shapes, and styles. Some pottery is deigned to function as dinnerware, while a lot of pottery is ornamental in nature. The value of pottery is often appraised by its quality and beauty. After all, pottery is considered as an art-form. For this reason, those pieces demonstrating the greatest skill and beauty are proudly showcased and prized by collectors.
Consider then the work of a potter: of his own will, he gathers the clay, and works it through the various stages, until it is acceptable to himself. That which he produces is fit to the work he has purposed. There can be no doubt that the pot would not be what it is, if not for the power of the potter. Even the most beautiful pot is a mere product of its creator. Yet we esteem the created pot more than the creator potter. This should not be so.
In our text, the Apostle Paul uses the analogy of a potter to expound upon the election of Grace, emphasizing the prerogative of the Sovereign God to do that which He chooses. This is not a new illustration. The Prophet Jeremiah used the potter as a type to show God’s absolute power in disposing of nations (Jeremiah 18:1-6). As a Potter, the Lord has absolute right to mold us as clay into the fashion of His choosing.
Even those people who dispute Sovereign Grace will make a profession of faith, and acknowledge that the Lord had been ‘dealing with’ them for a period of time prior to their conversion. These ‘dealings’ are nothing other than Sovereign movements of God’s Spirit – first in quickening, then in drawing, finally in revealing Christ in them.
These dealings, or movements, are also experienced in the day-to-day sanctifying of the Elect, whereby we are conformed to the Image of Christ. This is the molding of the clay, so-so-speak, by which the Potter prepares us for His use.
Yet we so often fall into the snare of rejoicing over the work the Lord has done in our lives more that His working in our lives. When we testify: “I’m not the person I was,” we bear witness to a work done by God in our lives; but this testimony is always self-centered – “look at me” – pointing to the pot more than the Potter.
When the Apostle Paul bare witness to the work of God in his own life – from being a persecutor of the Church to being as Apostle thereof – he was ever-careful to say: “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10); thus giving Glory to God.
Our text poses a question: “Hath not the potter power over the clay…?” The answer is a resounding ‘Yes.’ He alone is Sovereign, and every knee bows to Him. Our God has absolute power over our entire beings, and we are but the work of His hand (Isaiah 64:8). For this reason, our rejoicing should not be over the work done in our lives (the pot); but rather let us rejoice over the One who does the work (the Potter).