Using crooked boards

Published 1:35 pm Sunday, February 18, 2024

“What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.’” — Romans 3:9-12 (NKJV)

“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” — Romans 3: 21-24


These two passages from Paul’s letter to the Romans settles the question of our worthiness once and for all. We are not, on our merit, worthy of God’s redemption. We are all (humanity) sinners. Isaiah 64:6 says that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” So then we are all unfit to be used by God (in our natural, or unregenerate state).

To use a term that we may be more familiar with, we are all “crooked boards.” I use this terminology because Jesus was a Carpenter’s son, as referenced in Matthew 13, and Mark 6. A carpenter must choose carefully from the materials available so that the finished work will be acceptable.

Using crooked boards guarantees that the finished work will be flawed; except, Jesus has a method of straightening His material that human carpenters do not. He uses the Holy Spirit to sanctify His crooked boards (those who surrender to His will) and make them worthy for His purpose.

Unlike wooden boards, we have a choice about whether or not to be used by Jesus. His grace makes it possible for us to be “straightened” from our crooked nature, to then become His vessels for sharing the Gospel. Like the wooden material, we can’t straighten, or prepare, or equip ourselves for service to God. This is the work of the Holy Spirit upon those who hear His call, and surrender to His leading.

The surrendered and sanctified (straightened) soul is ready to be used in the building of the Kingdom of God.

The Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.