An Empty Vessel

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen Thou me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust Thee altogether. O Lord, help me.

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)
(as quoted in Ken Gire’s Between Heaven and Earth)

Martin Luther’s prayer reminds me not to stop at confessing my sin, but move beyond that to a place where I trust in God’s transforming power. Sometimes when God shows me a weak area in my life or convicts me of a sin, all I look at is that flaw. “What a horrible person I am! I’m hopeless!” I forget in my heart what I know in my head: that God has the power to not only cleanse me, but change me. When I wallow in self-condemnation and defeat, it amounts to nothing less than unbelief — it’s like saying Christ’s death on the cross was not enough to provide forgiveness and new life for me.

God is able to fill my emptiness, give me strength for weakness, and warm my cold heart, but He will only do that when I place my faith in Him. When I trust Him to change me, my flaws and failures can become wonderful opportunities to experience His power at work within me.


Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us…But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
– 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, 4:7; 12:9 (NIV)

Confessing vs. Professing Christ

I’ll be honest with you: I’m a people-pleaser. I find it very difficult to speak up if I know that it might make others unhappy with me.  But I’m also a teacher and coach, responsible to communicate truth to my students.  That’s probably why I find this quote so challenging:

If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at THAT point.

– Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)

This makes me ask myself: Do I ever shy away from speaking or teaching the truth because I want to avoid interpersonal conflict? Do I ever keep silent because I place the opinions and feelings of others above God’s? Sadly, I must admit that at times I do. But I also know God’s antidote for my fear, and it’s found in His word:

Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
– Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)

In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can mortal man do to me?
– Psalm 56:4 (NIV)

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
– Matthew 10:28 (NIV)

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
-Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

Scroll to top