“O Jehovah, . . . you are our Potter; we are all the work of your hand.”—ISAIAH 64:8.
1. Why is Jehovah the greatest Potter?
IN November 2010, a bid of nearly 70 million dollars was made on a Chinese clay vase in England. It is amazing that a potter can mold something as common and cheap as clay into a beautiful and expensive vase. Jehovah, our Potter, is far greater than any human potter. The Bible says that Jehovah made a perfect man “out of dust from the ground,” that is, out of clay. (Genesis 2:7) That man, Adam, was a “son of God” and was created with the ability to imitate God’s qualities.—Luke 3:38.
2, 3. How can we imitate the attitude of repentant Israelites?
2 When Adam rebelled against his Creator, he was no longer a son of God. But many of Adam’s descendants have chosen Jehovah as their Ruler. (Hebrews 12:1) By humbly obeying their Creator, they have shown that they want him, not Satan, to be their Father and Potter. (John 8:44) Their loyalty to God reminds us of what the repentant Israelites said: “O Jehovah, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are our Potter; we are all the work of your hand.”—Isaiah 64:8.
3 Jehovah’s true worshippers today likewise try hard to be humble and obedient. They consider it an honor to call Jehovah their Father, and they want him to be their Potter. Are we willing to be like soft clay that God can mold into a precious vessel? Do we see each of our brothers and sisters as a work in progress, still being molded by God? To help us have the right attitude, we will discuss how Jehovah chooses those whom he molds, why he molds them, and how he does that.
JEHOVAH CHOOSES THOSE WHOM HE MOLDS
4. How does Jehovah choose those whom he draws to himself? Give examples.
4 Jehovah does not look at people the way we do. Instead, he examines the heart and sees who each of us really is. (Read 1 Samuel 16:7b.) Jehovah demonstrated this when he formed the Christian congregation. He drew to himself and to his Son many people whom some might consider to be worthless. (John 6:44) For example, one such person was the Pharisee named Saul, “a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man.” (1 Timothy 1:13) But Jehovah examined Saul’s heart and did not feel that he was useless clay. (Proverbs 17:3) Instead, Jehovah saw that Saul could be molded into “a chosen vessel” who would preach “to the nations as well as to kings and the sons of Israel.” (Acts 9:15) Jehovah also chose others who could be molded “for an honorable use,” including former drunkards, immoral people, and thieves. (Romans 9:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) As they studied the Scriptures, they strengthened their faith in Jehovah and allowed him to mold them.
It is not up to us to judge people in our territory or in our congregation
5, 6. How should our trust in Jehovah as our Potter affect our attitude toward (a) the people in our territory? (b) our brothers and sisters?
5 We trust that Jehovah is able to choose and draw the right people. That is why we should not judge others in our territory or in our congregation. See, for example, how a man called Michael reacted when Jehovah’s Witnesses visited him. He says: “I would just turn away and ignore them as if they did not exist. I was really rude! Later, in a different setting, I met a family whom I admired because of their good conduct. Then one day I received a shock—they were Jehovah’s Witnesses! Their behavior moved me to examine the basis for my prejudice. I soon came to the realization that my attitude was based on ignorance and hearsay, not on facts.” Michael wanted to learn more and accepted a Bible study. Later he got baptized and then became a full-time servant.
6 When we recognize Jehovah as our Potter, our attitude toward our brothers and sisters will also change. We will see each of them as a work in progress. This is how Jehovah sees them. He sees who they truly are inside and knows that their imperfection is only temporary. He also knows what kind of person each of them can become. (Psalm 130:3) We can imitate Jehovah if we have the same positive attitude toward our brothers. We can even work with our Potter to help our brothers and sisters make progress. (1 Thessalonians 5:14, 15) The elders in the congregation should set a good example in doing that.—Ephesians 4:8, 11-13.
WHY DOES JEHOVAH MOLD US?
7. Why do you appreciate Jehovah’s discipline?
7 Some people may say: ‘I never fully valued the discipline I received from my parents until I had children of my own.’ As we grow older, we may come to value discipline because we see it as an expression of love. (Read Hebrews 12:5, 6, 11.) Yes, Jehovah loves us as his children, which is why he patiently disciplines us, or molds us. He wants us to be wise and happy and to love him as our Father. (Proverbs 23:15) He does not like to see us suffer, and he does not want us to die as unrepentant sinners.—Ephesians 2:2, 3.
Jehovah loves us as his children, which is why he patiently disciplines us, or molds us
8, 9. How is Jehovah teaching us today, and how will this education continue in the future?
8 Before we came to know Jehovah, we may have had many bad qualities. But Jehovah molded us and helped us to change, and as a result, we now have some beautiful qualities. (Isaiah 11:6-8; Colossians 3:9, 10) We live in a spiritual paradise. This is the special environment that Jehovah is creating in our day that helps to mold us. In it, we feel safe and secure even though the world around us is wicked. Those who grew up without feeling love in their family now feel real love from their brothers and sisters in the spiritual paradise. (John 13:35) And we have learned to show love to others. But most important, we have come to know Jehovah and now feel his fatherly love.—James 4:8.
9 In the new world, we will fully benefit from the spiritual paradise. We will also enjoy life in a physical paradise ruled by God’s Kingdom. During that time, Jehovah will continue to mold us and educate us in a way that is hard to imagine right now. (Isaiah 11:9) Jehovah will also make our minds and bodies perfect. This will make it easier for us to understand and completely obey his instructions. So let us continue to allow Jehovah to mold us, and let us show him that we value this proof of his love for us.—Proverbs 3:11, 12.
HOW JEHOVAH MOLDS US
10. How did Jesus reflect the Great Potter’s patience and skill?
10 Just as a skilled potter knows the type of clay he is molding, our Potter, Jehovah, knows us very well. He knows our weaknesses, our limitations, and the progress we have made, and he molds each one of us with these circumstances in mind. (Read Psalm 103:10-14.) We can learn how Jehovah views us by looking at how Jesus reacted to the imperfections of his apostles. At times, the apostles argued about who was the greatest. If you had been there, how would you have viewed the apostles’ conduct? You might have felt that they were not like soft clay. Jesus, however, knew that they could be molded if they listened to his kind and patient counsel and if they imitated his humility. (Mark 9:33-37; 10:37, 41-45; Luke 22:24-27) After Jesus’ resurrection, the apostles received God’s spirit and were no longer focused on who was the greatest. Instead, they were focused on the work Jesus gave them.—Acts 5:42.
11. In what ways did David prove to be like soft clay, and how can we imitate him?
11 Today, Jehovah uses the Bible, his holy spirit, and the congregation to mold us. How can the Bible mold us? We need to read it, meditate on what we read, and ask Jehovah to help us apply what we have learned. King David wrote: “I remember you while upon my bed; I meditate on you during the watches of the night.” (Psalm 63:6) He also wrote: “I will praise Jehovah, who has given me advice. Even during the night, my innermost thoughts correct me.” (Psalm 16:7) Yes, David meditated on Jehovah’s counsel and let it mold his deepest thoughts and feelings, even when the counsel was difficult to accept. (2 Samuel 12:1-13) David set a beautiful example of humility and obedience for us. So ask yourself: ‘When I read the Bible, do I meditate on it and let God’s counsel touch my deepest thoughts and feelings? Can I do so even more?’—Psalm 1:2, 3.
12, 13. How does Jehovah mold us by means of holy spirit and the Christian congregation?
12 Holy spirit can mold us in several ways. For example, it can help us learn to imitate Jesus’ personality and to display the different aspects of the fruitage of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) One aspect of that fruitage is love. We love God and want to obey him and be molded by him because we know that his commandments are for our benefit. In addition, holy spirit can give us the strength to avoid being molded by this wicked world. (Ephesians 2:2) When the apostle Paul was young, he was influenced by the proud Jewish religious leaders. But holy spirit helped him to change. He later wrote: “For all things I have the strength through the one who gives me power.” (Philippians 4:13) We too need to ask for holy spirit, knowing that Jehovah will answer our sincere prayers.—Psalm 10:17.
13 Jehovah also uses the congregation and the elders to mold each one of us. For example, if the elders notice that we have a weakness, they try to help us. However, they do not give counsel based on their own ideas. (Galatians 6:1) Instead, they humbly pray to Jehovah for understanding and wisdom. Then, they do research using the Bible and our Christian publications in order to find information that will help us. If the elders come to you and give you kind and loving counsel, perhaps about how you are dressed, remember that this is proof of God’s love for you. When you apply the counsel, you will be like soft clay that Jehovah is able to mold, and you will benefit.
14. Though having authority over the clay, how does Jehovah show respect for our free will?
14 If we understand how Jehovah molds us, it can help us to have good relationships with our brothers and sisters. Also, we will have a positive attitude about people in our territory, including our Bible students. In Bible times, before molding clay, a potter needed to clean it and remove stones and other material. The Great Potter, Jehovah, helps people who want to be molded. He does not force them to change, but instead, he shows them his clean standards. Then they must decide if they will make the needed changes.
15, 16. How do Bible students show that they want Jehovah to mold them? Illustrate.
15 Consider what happened to Tessie, a sister in Australia. It was very easy for her to learn what the Bible says. However, she did not make much progress, and she did not go to the meetings. The sister who studied with her had prayed to Jehovah and had decided to stop the study. Then an amazing thing happened. At their study, Tessie told her teacher why she had not made any progress. She said that she felt like a hypocrite because she loved to gamble. But now she had decided to stop gambling.
16 Soon, Tessie started going to the meetings and showing Christian qualities even though some of her former friends made fun of her. In time, Tessie got baptized and became a regular pioneer, even while she had young children. It is clear that when Bible students begin to make changes to please God, he will draw close to them and will mold them into valuable vessels.
17. (a) What appeals to you about having Jehovah as your Potter? (b) What aspects of molding will we next consider?
17 Today, some potters still carefully mold clay into beautiful vessels by hand. In a similar way, Jehovah patiently molds us using his counsel, and he closely watches to see how we will react. (Read Psalm 32:8.) Can you see that Jehovah is interested in you? Do you see how Jehovah is carefully molding you? If so, what qualities will help you to stay like soft clay that Jehovah can mold? What traits should you avoid so that you do not become like hard clay that cannot be molded? And how can parents work with Jehovah to mold their children? The next article will answer these questions.