When we went to Portugal, we saw an amazing Cathedral. We walked up to the first sign and it talked about this ball peen hammer that was used in the building of the church. After ten lines of extolling the qualities of the hammer, at the end, in tiny script, it mentioned the king who spent millions funding the building. The next sign contained paeans of praise for a claw hammer that was used, and ended with a bare mention of the architect. Another sign glorified a sledge hammer and concluded with the bald statement of the name of contractor who built the edifice. Not! No one mentioned any hammers, nor do any visitors care about the hammers. All the others people (King, Architect, Contractor) were glorified at great length.
In Roman times, anybody who was anybody had servants. The servants on duty would do nothing except what they were told to do. When they did work, such as maintain a garden, people would look at the garden and praise the owner for his beautiful yard. A similar was obtained for a mosaic that the servant worked on, or a piece of furniture the slave carved. The servants (who were often synonymous with slaves) were the equivalents of the hammers. Their master never said, “You have worked hard, sit down while I serve you (Luke 17:7-9) Most likely, after a day of the servant working hard, he would say to the servant, “serve me my dinner.
Think about the calling of the Apostles. Jesus explained to them His will for them in exquisite detail. He said, “Come follow me.” That was the exquisite detail. Basically, Jesus treated them like servants. You follow me, and I will show you the job I want you to do, and train you how to do it. He wanted them to have the hammer attitude. Of course, it didn’t stay that way. Jesus modeled a servants heart, and came to the point at the end of His ministry that He called them friends. (John 15:15.) Still, He wants us to have that hammer attitude, That we are unworthy slaves. We have only done what we ought to have done. (Luke 17:10)
There is another image used, that of the grafted branches. God has this olive tree. It was supposed to bear fruit. Because of arrogance and unbelief, the branches were cut off. Typically, one grafts fruitful domestic branches onto a hardy wild base, but contrary to the usual, God cut off the domestic branches the Israelites) and grafted the wild branches (the Gentiles) onto the domestic base. Should us wild branches be arrogant? If we are, God can cut us out and graft the domestic branches back in. (Rom 11:17-24) Again, take some clay, mix it up good and divide it into various lumps. Can God make anything He wants out of each lump of clay? Certainly. Does the clay argue back? No. (Rom 9:20-21)
James the brother of John died quite young (Acts 12:2) John, though, lived the longest of all the Apostles, into his 90s. (see John 21:23) Was John better? No. Did James have anything to complain about? No. Each was a lump of clay that God made for specific purposes. Do we peacefully let God use us for the purpose He made us? If He made us to die young, do we trust God and head for death victoriously, or do we complain and get angry at God when He doesn’t answer our prayers for a different fate? If He made us to live long, do we get proud of what we have done, or do we humbly let God use us? His will for us is to be holy and bear fruit. When faced with either fate, we should say, “It’s hammer time!” It is time to be a tool that is content to be used by God and let Him get all the glory.