We have just added a new sermon called Four Cracked Pots, based on the stories of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, four very flawed, very human, very fallible heroes from the book of Judges who made many mistakes (some of them disastrous) and yet they are mentioned in Hebrews 11:32 as men who lived by faith.

No plaster saints here. These are real men, flesh and blood heroes whom God honored in spite of their flaws. Their faith was like ours, mingled with fear, soiled with unbelief and doubt, spotted with compromise, troubled by human reasoning.

It’s the sort of sermon that brings me back to a core belief in the redeeming grace of God because Gideon was fearful, Barak was timid, Samson was out of control, and Jephthah made a foolish vow. Perhaps if we were making a list of heroes of the faith, we might not mention any of these men, but God looks at things differently than we do.

I was greatly heartened when I found Calvin’s comment on these four “cracked pots” (a riff off of 2 Corinthians 4:7):

Thus, in all the saints, something reprehensible is ever to be found; yet faith, though halting and imperfect, is still approved by God.

Look in the mirror. There’s something reprehensible there. John Calvin said so, and he’s right. You’re not perfect, far from it, and neither am I. And our faith, halting and imperfect, is still approved by God.

Calvin then adds these words of exhortation to all of us:

There is, therefore, no reason why the faults we labor under should break us down, or dishearten us, provided we by faith go on in the race of our calling.

God honors faith, and he seeks it so much that he will honor people who otherwise do some very stupid things. We all labor under a sense of our own failure. Like Gideon we are slow to answer the call. Like Barak we need someone else to push us. Like Samson we let our emotions guide us wrongly. Like Jephthah we say things that hurt ourselves and others.

Let us then push on by faith despite our failures, knowing that if God can use men like this, he can use us too.

You can reach the author at ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.