The highest-priced pieces of carved jade are those made out of solid colored stones without flaws. Going against the conventional selection process, an unknown artist selected a piece of multicolor jade containing cracks and color blotches to carve an exquisite piece now known as the Jadeite Cabbage. The artist used the cracks as veins in the leaves. The color blotches enhanced the insects, while the change in color produced a beautiful, yet realistic piece of art. Click here for a detailed view of this wonderful piece.
Many people saw a useless piece of jade, but the artist who created the Jadeite Cabbagesaw beyond the flaws to create a piece like no other. Amazingly, God does the same with us. He does not wait until we are able to present our perfect selves to Him. God sees beyond our flaws and chooses to use us as we are to do His kingdom work.
Jephthah was an illegitimate son and suffered the rejection of his siblings. Despite this, he became a charismatic leader who rose above his circumstances. (Judges 11-12) Jephthah showed confidence in God as he verbally battled the king of Ammon. The Lord’s spirit rested on Jephthah, indicating God had commissioned and empowered him to lead the people.
But Jephthah had flaws. He didn’t fully trust the Lord. In fact, Jephthah thought he could bargain with God. He believed God was like the ancient gods who needed prodding in order to act favorably towards humanity. Jephthah believed he could win God’s favor by offering to sacrifice whatever came out of the door of his house when he returned from battle. Jephthah failed to appreciate that God desires our hearts far more than He desires anything we can do for Him.
At the moment vows are made, in the heat of angst and difficulty, they can appear spiritually and logically sound. Yet they often turn out to be foolhardy, with consequences far from what was intended when it comes time to fulfill them. The rashness of Jephthah’s vow became apparent when he returned home. The first person to appear was his daughter—his only daughter.
Scholars have attempted to lessen the consequences of Jephthah’s vow by suggesting Jephthah had an animal sacrifice in mind when he made the vow. Alternatively, others suggest that a human sacrifice wasn’t made. Rather, Jephthah’s daughter spent the remainder of her life as a temple servant and was denied the opportunity to have children. These scenarios are attempts to downplay a repulsive ancient practice that was never intended to be part of God’s plans for His people in the first place.
God Uses Flawed People
Jephthah is not the only person with flaws God used to do His work. Aaron continued in his role as priest even after he sinned by making the golden calf (Ex. 28.1; 32.1-35; 35:19). Moses was called to lead his people even after murdering an Egyptian (Ex. 2.11-12; 3.1-10). Peter became the rock upon which Jesus built the church even after denying he knew Jesus, not once but three times (Mt. 26.69-75; Jn. 21.15-18).
Satan loves to whisper to us, “If your past were known, you wouldn’t have been asked to lead that Bible study.” “Your sins are so bad, God will never have a use for you.” “That one sin was the biggest mistake of your life and nothing will ever erase it. You are guilty!”
But just like the artist who made the Jadeite Cabbage, God takes the flaws Satan wants to throw in your face and makes something beautiful out of your life. Are you allowing your faults to hold you back from following God? Is God asking you to release your flaws to Him so that He, the Master Creator, can make your life extraordinary?