The biblical account of the potter and the clay is all about being a faithful servant and moldable clay.


In Jeremiah 18 the LORD told the prophet to go to the potter’s house and observe him as he works. What he saw was the potter refashioning what he had set out to make because it had become spoiled. The LORD then told Jeremiah, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does? Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.”

While God’s message was for Israel, most of us have applied the principle to our own lives. We recognize that we are like clay in the Master Potter’s hands. We understand the concept, but are we really living out what it means to be clay? Clay has no plans of its own. It never envisions what it will be and how it will be used. It never tries to mold itself to attain its own vision. It is content simply being clay. It is even more content to be fashioned into whatever the potter desires.

As the Master Potter, God is always on the lookout for the most pliable and moldable clay He can find. Only He knows what He desires to make and how He will use it. For the perfect work of His hands, He needs pure clay, free from impurities. Sometimes the impurities and defects aren’t immediately visible, but once they are detected, He must refashion the vessel into something else.

This was God’s message to Israel, and the same is true for us. It’s all about being a faithful servant, a servant who exists for the master’s use and mutual enjoyment. Jesus is our perfect example. He lowered Himself to become a servant in order to accomplish His Father’s plan – the redemption of humanity. Like clay, He had no will of His own, no personal desires, no dreams of what He would become. His time on earth was given completely over to doing His Father’s will, whatever the cost to Him personally.


As we apply this to our own lives, we must first make sure we understand what a servant is. Our initial response would likely be that a servant is one who learns what his master wants him to do and then does it. This seems reasonable until we apply the lesson of the potter and the clay. The clay God can use can’t do anything. It exists to be molded by God. Here we see the difference between earthly masters and our Heavenly Master. A servant of a human master works for his master. God, however, works through His servants.

What can the clay do to carry out the potter’s wishes? It can only remain pliable and moldable and remain in the potter’s hands. Too often, we think we know what God is up to and we jump off the wheel and race off to do what we think we’ve been created to do. Months or years later, we look back on the mess we’ve made and wonder what happened. The answer is that apart from Christ, we can do nothing.  He is the vine just as God is the potter. We must constantly abide in Him (see John 15:5).

Paul confirmed this in his letter to the Church at Philippi when he said, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). Yet, too often we take matters into our own hands when we think we have determined how best we can utilize our strengths or our gifts. God, however, may choose to work through our weakness, when we are more likely to depend on Him. God often uses those who have been broken and humbled, choosing to bypass those who are convinced they’re ready to be put into service. Ultimately, He uses holy vessels so He looks for clay that is willing to have its impurities removed.

 I realize that none of this sounds glamorous, but neither was the life Jesus chose to live. Yet, the results made it all worthwhile. Jesus said that we would do even greater things than He did (see John 14:12). He also made it clear how powerless we are apart from Him. He is asking us to follow His example and be willing to be moldable clay in the Father’s hands and remaining there until He ushers us home.


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