Treasure in Earthen Vessels

One of my favorite bands is Jars of Clay.  They get their name from 2 Corinthians 4:7…

“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 Cor 4:7 (NASB)

Paul’s point here is that God has chosen us (as ordinary, fragile, and insignificant as a clay pot) to hold and distribute His gospel so that He would receive all of the glory for it’s power and not us.  But, you do not even have to leave Paul’s letters to the Corinthians to see something else that this body of ours “contains”.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” 1 Cor 6:19-20

And so, God has chosen (for reasons that are hard if not possible to comprehend) to use fallen, broken, sinful, frail people to hold something as significant as not only God’s universal message of justice, grace, and mercy but also the very Spirit that regenerates and transforms us.  This is the same Spirit who participates in Creation and who resided among men only in the Holy of Holies before Christ.  Amazing…absolutely amazing.

What could be more amazing?  The fact that I, and I’ll bet many of you, do not think on this very often let alone allow it to affect our moment to moment behavior.  How can it be that I get so caught up in the meaningless, being tricked into thinking that it is somehow more significant that the fact that God has called me to be a vehicle of His gospel and His Spirit to a fallen, lost, Hell-bound world?  How can it be that I worry more about the price of a tank of gas than the price Christ paid for my sins.  How can it be that I worry more about how I’m performing and measured by my boss at work than I am my boss who redeemed me, resurrected me, called me, and indwelled me?  How can it be that I worry more about what other insignificant earthen vessels think of me than what the infinitely significant contents of my own vessel thinks of me?

I’m often reminded of a couple simple and practical points that I have used throughout the years to move my attention away from the vessel and toward it’s contents.  I’ll share them here and pray that He would use them to help you as well.

First, frequent and regular prayer matters.  As busy as life gets, too many times I am duped into thinking that my relationship with God is strong enough to skip daily prayer for a season so I can “get things done”.  That’s a lie.  I don’t care how “mature” you are, we all have to be reminded of the treasure within us or we will forget.

Second, every moment of our lives represents an opportunity to live through the strength of what lives within us rather than the weakness of it’s container.  We do not have to change anything about our circumstances to fully glorify God. 

Did you know that a single mom changing the diaper of her 6-month old has the same opportunity to glorify God as does Billy Graham sharing the gospel with millions of people on TV?  This relatively unknown single mom and Mr. Graham are made of the same insignificant earthen material and possess the same gospel and Holy Spirit.  How could one glorofy God and the other not?  It’s all in the heart and motives for doing what you do.  Are you doing all you can, wherever God has placed you, to hear Him, believe Him, and obey Him?  Are you genuinely concerned about how much you reflect the Spirit’s joy, compassion, humility and perseverance?  If you change that diaper out a selfless concern for the baby, joyfully content with the role God has given you then you will be more pleasing to God than a person sharing the gospel with millions of people only because of the attention or money it brings him.

At the end of the day, especially when the world begins to become confusing, I come to the same conclusion that Solomon did:

“The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”  Ecclesiastes 12:13

Any believer, no matter their job or circumstance, can and must fear God and keep His commandments.  In this way, we live by the power of that which lives in us and not by the frailty of the vessel itself.  This is how we glorify God, and all of us have the same opportunity to glorify God to the same extent. 

And so, my encouragement for the day is to seek God and his commands, then live them to the best of your ability right where you are moment to moment.  Let’s leave the excuses behind and help one another in the journey.

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