The "Little Things"
Whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward (Matt 10:42).
God sees the "little things." Have we somehow got it in our heads that what we do in service to Him doesn't matter?
Disciples of Calvin preach that all a man can ever be is a perpetual disappointment to God, slogging through this life never getting anything right.
They may toss out the "filthy rags" verse to prop up their teaching: "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Is. 64:6).
Sadly they fail to consider the previous verse: "You were angry, for we sinned, we continued in them a long time; and shall we be saved?” (Is. 64:5).
Isaiah is speaking to people who have been in rebellion for a long time–people feigning righteousness in a pitiful attempt to fake God out.
He is NOT speaking to self-denying, faithful servants of God.
“If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21).
"Useful to the Master," NOT a "filthy rag." The Bible is filled with people who loved God, submitted to Him, and were faithful to Him. God noticed and delighted in them.
Noah alone was righteous in His generation, yet God took notice of Him and Noah found favor in the sight of God (Gen. 6:9; 7:1).
Abraham was called the friend of God because of his faithful obedience (Jas. 2:23).
The woman who anointed Jesus’ head with perfume would always be remembered for her beautiful deed (Matt. 26:9-13).
God desires to save all men (1 Tim. 2:4). I can only conclude that He desires to say to all men, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Master” (Matt. 25:23).
God delights in His faithful servants who joyfully participate the work of His Kingdom, who strive to bring glory to Him.
God does not see His people as vile, base, and useless. What you do as an individual disciple of Christ matters. It matters to Him: "God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints" (Heb. 6:10).
God is willing to forget our sins– “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Heb. 8:12)–but He is unwilling to forget the love we show toward His Name.
Like all those faithful men and women we see in Scripture, every child of God redeemed by the blood of Christ can continue to be "useful to the Master."
Christians can be confident that just as God loved the ancients for their faithfulness and rewarded them for it, so He will do for His faithful ones today: "They will make war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will triumph over them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and He will be accompanied by His called and chosen and faithful ones” (Rev. 17:14).
But we can't have such hope unless and until we step into His grace and find forgiveness in His Son through obedience to His Gospel (Col. 1:21-23).
"Getting right with God is the supreme and urgent need of every sinner and staying right with God is the most pressing need of every saint." –Dan Shipley