Earthen Vessels

March 13, 2016

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written by Tim Ushijima

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7)

The treasure that Paul is speaking about is the treasure of the Gospel. In the preceding passages Paul describes His ministry which is to preach the Gospel. This is a ministry that God has given to every believer (Matt. 28:19-20), but when we consider ourselves we see that we are so inadequate for this task. We are sinners, rebels who refused to have God as our King and yet we have been brought into God’s household to be sons. God did that apart from (or more accurately despite) anything we had done by sending His Son to live the perfect life that we should have lived and then die the death that we deserved. On the cross, Christ bore the wrath of God so that we would become sons. And not only sons, but ambassadors for Him (2 Cor. 5:20) to proclaim His excellencies to the world (1 Peter 2:9).

But let’s be honest, none of us have great resumes to be ambassadors. First of all, though we are sons, we are still sinners who far too often fall back into our old ways of living. Then when given an opportunity to be an ambassador, many times we do not speak because we don’t feel ready or our selfishness and fear of man silence us. On top of that we are also human; we get tired, ill, and hungry. Many of us could say like Moses that we are not eloquent and our tongues don’t work that well. We’re always running into situations that we don’t know how to handle and even when we know what to do or say, many times we just can’t seem to pull the correct words or actions out of our brains.

In 2 Cor. 4:7, Paul refers to us Christians as clay (or earthen) pots. When we consider our qualifications, we understand the analogy. Earthen pots are easily broken, replaceable, and only worthy of being used for the most common and lowly of tasks. Though this description is very fitting for us, God has chosen to put the great treasure of the Gospel in these earthen pots. Though God could rightly demand our allegiance, when we are weak He gives us power (2 Cor. 12:9), He makes us heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17), and lavishes blessings on us when we obey (Matt. 25:23). This is all an undeserved gift of His grace because He delights in using the weak and foolish of the world so that He would receive all the glory (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

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