I wanted to buy my daughter the nicest violin I could afford. An unusual opportunity arose to take her to visit a violin-maker who had made a very fine instrument. This man, Timothy Stephenson, spent over two hours with us in his workshop. He showed us his tools, instruments in progress, cabinets full of various woods. A single violin represents months of intricate work. Each instrument is highly precious to him, and he strives for perfection.
Seeing his shop made me think of God, and the care He invests in His people. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works …” (Ephesians 2:10). God is a Master Craftsman. Each one of us is a special project; He is crafting raw material into something extraordinary. Beyond that, He is shaping all of us into a “building fitly framed together”—His Family! (verses 19-21). God is building His masterpiece, and we are the materials!
Mr. Stephenson chooses his materials carefully. He has woods from the world over, and knows every detail about each one. He talked about how the wood for a violin’s sounding board is most important—usually spruce, “the king of the tone woods.” Spruce is light but strong, probably because it grows in higher elevations and must be strong to withstand the cold. For a violin, the grain and wood cut must be exactly right. However, bark beetles are jeopardizing the Engleman Spruce, and a recent storm destroyed a forest of fine Italian spruce. He uses maple for the violin’s back, sides and neck, and for these he studies the “flame,” or pattern. He uses Prenabucco from Brazil for bows, but this wood is becoming endangered. He uses African and Asian ebony for the fingerboard and tailpiece.
This man deeply knows every aspect of these materials: what works and what never could, where to find it, how to achieve the best results. How much care does God take in choosing His spiritual materials?
And here is an important question: What sort of material does God have to work with in you? He is selecting material, and He is evaluating you. What does God see in you?
Think of David. God discerned all He needed to know to choose David as king of Israel while he was still a teenager! What did God see in him?
God sent Samuel to anoint David, and Samuel was more impressed by David’s brothers. God said, “[T]he Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). David’s family ignored him, yet in God’s eyes, he was a king! God is not distracted by appearances—He sees substance. Some people are “gold coins in gum wrappers.”
Verse 18 hints at what God saw. David was “cunning in playing,” self-disciplined to practice and develop his talent. He was “a mighty valiant man, and a man of war,” despite being just a teenage shepherd! He took his job so seriously he risked his life for those sheep! He was “prudent in matters,” meaning an articulate communicator. And “the Lord is with him.” Even in his youth, David was meditating on God, praying, writing psalms and poems to God.
This young man had been living in a way that impressed God! How important is what you are doing right now?
Benjamin Franklin said, “There never was a good knife made of bad steel.” You need to become “good steel.” Build virtuous habits of honesty, patience, loyalty, courtesy, dependability, punctuality—Herbert W. Armstrong said you “cannot become a real success without these principles of right character” (The Seven Laws of Success). These habits can set you up for a lifetime of success.
Avoid worldliness and sin. Flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:19-22). Eliminate things that weaken and compromise your character, that make you less suitable for God’s use. Every choice you make strengthens you and makes you more valuable to God—or weakens you and compromises your value to God. Work to become the strongest, highest-quality material possible for God to work with!
David showed what happens when you do this. Read 1 Samuel 17. Look at David’s work ethic, his sense of responsibility, his energy, his enthusiasm! Listen to the way he expressed himself with boldness and faith! See how eager he was to defend God and show the world God’s strength! Read how he responded to Goliath’s intimidation with faith-filled threats of his own! (verses 45-47).
This battle put David’s character on display. But remember: God had already seen it in David’s conduct long before. He saw a young man making good decisions. He saw strong spiritual building material that He could really use. He saw a teen faithful in small matters, so He entrusted him with great things!
What sort of material are you giving God to work with? You’re never too young to make yourself valuable to God. The Master Craftsman wants to use you. God is investing deep interest and passion in you. You are His workmanship—not a violin, but a son! You are part of His greatest masterpiece of accomplishment! Never lose sight of that. So do like young David did: Apply yourself wholeheartedly to whatever job God gives you. Do your utmost to submit wholly to the Master Artisan of the universe—and let Him shape you into a king!