I just finished reading Daniel Nehrbass’ book Who’s Using You? Making Yourself Available for God’s Use. Used can be such a negative, emotionally charged word in our society today. Nehrbass challenges the reader to broaden the definition of “used” and apply a spiritual filter to its meaning. He encourages us to become aware of how we are used daily. In the book, he addresses being used in three different ways: by others, by the Enemy (Satan), and by God.
Being Used by Others
According to Nehrbass, others can use us in positive or negative ways. He references personal and biblical accounts of how people can be used by others. In his book, the author talks about how we, as vessels of God, cannot be used appropriately if others are using us. He encourages us to think about ourselves as God would. Nehrbass says,
“Our hope in being used by God is not to overcome the disparity between how we see ourselves and how others see us but instead to know how God sees us. In every case, He sees a person He can use” (page 42).
I knew this concept before reading the book, but how many of us live into it? How many of us live our daily lives, letting ourselves be used by “things,” i.e., people, jobs, or desired objects? I know I don’t. This section of the book reminded me to be more mindful of my time and my priorities in my daily life.
Being Used by Satan
This is a big one that I believe people underestimate. Satan is constantly engaging in spiritual warfare. He knows he can’t win the war, but he fully intends to win some battles. He will use whomever and whatever he can to keep us from living into the life that God wants us to live. Nehrbass quotes John 10:10, where Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life, and have it in full.” He reminds us who the true enemy is, and it’s not our families, friends, or bosses. It’s Satan.
He states, “My struggle is with spiritual forces of evil. I understand that I can be used by Satan to tempt others to sin and that they can be used the same way. Once I remind myself of this truth, I see the people around me as co-strugglers, not as enemies” (page 99).
Did that last quote resonate with you?
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that people commit horrific acts and should be held accountable for them. But what if, no matter the circumstance, Satan was involved (or benefited) from the turmoil? What if we all stopped looking at others as evil and recognize that Satan might be using either of you to attack God and His kingdom. As I have grown older, I have recognized that Satan works in subtle, everyday ways to rob us of our relationship with our Father. I’ve noticed this firsthand with my anxiety and anger. The more I am consumed with either (or both) emotions, the less available I am to be used for God’s intended purpose, his vessel.
Being Used by God
I would assume that every Christian could identify with being used by God. Nehrbass explains, in detail, multiple ways in which believers can be used as vessels for His kingdom. The one trait that stuck out to me the most was forgiveness. He challenges us to forgive, even when we don’t have overwhelming feelings to forgive. He says:
If you have found it difficult to forgive, do not wait for some overwhelming feeling of forgiveness before you verbally affirm the truth that you are not perfect yourself and that you forgive the person who sinned against you. You do not need the other person to know you have forgiven him nor does he have to ask you for forgiveness. This is a private choice separate from what the other person deserves or what you feel (page 202).
WHOA. You can (and maybe should) forgive someone even if they don’t “deserve” it or even know about it? God does it to us all of the time. That is the basis of our entire relationship. We say we love Him and will try to stop sinning. But then we give into our desires once again. Then we ask for forgiveness. He gives it, and we make more promises He knows we will break. Jesus died on the cross so we could be forgiven for any sin at any time. Should we repent of those sins? Yes, I believe the Bible says we should. I think that Nehrbass encourages us to recognize the toll that bitterness and hatred has on our hearts. In Colossians 3:12-13, Paul wrote:
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
So Where Do We Go From Here?
I am sure most of us knew that we could be used by different people. Hopefully some of the information from this book provided you with another perspective on how we can be used. Nehrbass encourages his readers to ask God how we can be used today. I loved this thought, because I typically ask God to use others for myself. This might be appropriate if I am really struggling, but it shouldn’t be my daily request. I need to make enough emotional and spiritual space in my life to ask God, “How can I be your vessel today?”.
So how are you being used today?
Is it by others, or by God?
**This is not an official review for “Who’s Using You? Making Yourself Available for God’s Use”