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Selfless Service

Unused Tools

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Unused Tools

In August, 2020 my wife and I traveled to the town of Leavenworth, KS. There, in an antique mall, I came across a new (still in the box) but very old carpenter’s plane. The plane was manufactured by a company called Lakeside for Montgomery Ward’s. The parts number was, No. 84-3510, Iron Smooth Plane, 9 In. Long, 2 In. Cutter. Based on some web searching, I learned that this particular plane was manufactured back in the 1930s. Yet, the plane didn’t have a mark on it. It was in mint condition. In all those years its blade had never as much as come into contact with any wood surface. And it was on sale for only $20. 

Did I buy it? No, I only took a picture of it. At this stage in my life I need to be downsizing, not accumulating more stuff. 

But it struck me that here was a tool whose manufacturer had dreamed that it would be used in building many homes, desks, shelves, and cabinets. Yet in all that time – 80 to 90 years – this tool had done absolutely nothing but collect dust. That is not what tools are for.   

Though our world highly values things that are unused, “still in the box,” and “uncirculated” (e.g. coins, toys, books), God doesn’t. To clarify that statement, let me say that, when it comes to people, God places far greater value on those who are the most thoroughly used in His work. For He has invested a lifetime of experience, service, and wisdom into such people and this makes them most prepared for heaven.   

Yes, these instruments of God’s peace have had a lot of wear and tear over the years. But God has renewed them day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). They are actually sharpened and strengthened by use, not diminished (as was Moses, Deuteronomy 34:7). Therefore, by the end of their lives, they are sharper, stronger, and wiser than ever before (Psalm 90:12). On the outside they may look ragged and worn. But it’s the person on the inside that God sees and is most concerned with (1 Samuel 16:7). 

If any tool in the Lord’s Carpenter Shop should have regret, it’s that they should go their whole lives without serving any useful purpose. It’s that they’ve lived selfishly and grown little. Don’t forget about Jesus’ parable about the talents. Remember the contrasting rewards of those who used what God had given them vs. those who did not (Matthew 25:14-30).   

God doesn’t want to receive us back in our “infant stage.” He wants us to grow, be sharpened, and fight the spiritual battles He leads us into.  He wants to employ us in His work. This should be our desire as well – to be used of God for His eternal cause. And only by laboring in the arena of God’s service will we grow in the virtues of faith, selflessness, perseverance, love, and faithfulness. Consider these words of advice from the great 19th Century preacher, Phillips Brooks. 

“Do not pray for easier lives, pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks. In doing so, not only will the accomplishment of your task be a miracle – you will be the miracle. Every day you will wonder at the grace and power that has come into your life because you trusted God, faced the challenges of life, overcame them, and were transformed in the process.” 

PRAYER: Lord make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; 
and where there is sadness, joy. 


“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love.  For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.” (St. Francis of Assisi) 

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