A Giant with Clay Feet

God uses us despite our failings and, at times, because of them.

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Too often when we see the flaws and failings—the “clay feet”—of past generations, we focus on the failure. True, mistakes have consequences. Whether because of willful disobedience, lack of foresight, or human incompleteness, none of us (not even our greatest heroes in the faith) will be perfect.

As we look back at the clay feet that seem to somehow mar our pristine image of some of those who came before us, we would be wise to remember that we affirm the truth in confession of sin (1 John 1:9). God’s people are flawed yet faithful. God uses us despite our failings and, at times, because of them. It is through our weakness that God’s power is most evident.

To echo Paul, we do not wish to continue sinning so that grace may abound. Instead, we want to ensure that, in looking back on the lives of women and men who, like us, are trying to be faithful while continuing in a state of sin, we see God at work. Clay feet are reminders that we do not follow Apollos or Cephas or Paul, but Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10–17).


A prayer for a flawed people

Lord, may we be gracious people. Let us be a body of people that does not demonize those who have been less-than faithful, nor cover up the sins of others thinking we might somehow protect you … or ourselves. We know you need no protection. We know that your church will endure. Give us hearts to trust you enough to confess our sins even as we stand firm in the gospel, refusing to compromise our witness. We are thankful that you work through the faithful and flawed. Amen.





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About the Author

For more than a decade, James served in academic leadership within biblical higher education. He currently serves as Vice President and COO of the Moody Center, an independent non-profit organization in Northfield, MA, dedicated to honoring the spiritual legacy of D.L. Moody. James serves on faculty at Right On Mission and as an Associate Consultant for Ruffalo Noel-Levitz where he assists colleges and universities in the areas of leadership development, online programming, and enrollment management. He also teaches as an adjunct instructor at the collegiate and graduate level in the areas of biblical studies, interpretation, and Christian thought. James graduated with his B.S in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2000 before earning his Master of Divinity from Moody Theological Seminary (2004), his M. A. in Biblical Exegesis from Wheaton College Graduate School (2005), and his PhD in Theological Studies-Old Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (2012). He later attended the Harvard Institute of Education Management and completed a year of executive coaching. James researches and writes in the areas of theology and Old Testament Studies. He has published Thinking Christian: Essays on Testimony, Accountability, and the Christian Mind in 2020 and co-authored Trajectories: A Gospel-Centered Introduction to Old Testament Theology in 2018. James also co-authored "Isaiah" with Michael Rydelnik in the Moody Bible Commentary and contributed to Marriage: It's Foundation, Theology, and Mission in a Changing World, and The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy.In addition to writing on theology and Old Testament studies, James has also published and presented in the areas of online curriculum design, higher education policy, organizational strategies for higher education recruitment, and Christian leadership. James and his family live in the Chicagoland area. He is available to speak in the areas of Christian leadership, Christian theology and contemporary issues, Christian identity in the digital age, biblical higher education and college choice, and Old Testament theology. .