There is a depth and beauty that flows out of time invested with the Lord.
When His Word has been studied, meditated on, and prayed through, the Lord reveals Himself and transforms the person’s heart. If you would like to know my heart, two of my greatest passions are the messages of God’s sufficiency for the Christian life, and the new covenant we now have in Christ. For this reason, I love to study the book of 2 Corinthians! It is filled with life-changing truths about God, being Sufficient for the Christian life, godliness, and service.
We cannot produce our own fruit or godliness. It grows in our lives as we abide in Christ.
It is through a loving relationship with Him that the service unto Him stems. It must be a work of His Holy Spirit within us, and through us.
We see this perfectly in our beautiful verse today: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) So often we hear, as we walk in this world, to trust in ourselves. That teaching is contrary to God’s Word. In fact, the Bible teaches us the exact opposite. His Word has a message to us of dying to self and renouncing the self-life. God teaches us to trust in Him, and that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
We are not the treasure; we are the vessel. What an important truth for ministry and for life. None of us can solve another person’s problems.
We are powerless to put lives back together and heal broken hearts. But God isn’t. Anybody who wants to serve God with their life needs to keep this in the forefront of their heart and mind. It is God who does the work.
In fact, man cannot do God’s work! This shows how great God is! If we want to see people being born again, walking with the Lord, bearing fruit, having their lives transformed, it has to be a work of God. We are the vessel; He is the treasure. We point people to Him. We keep Him the treasure that they see and receive, that the excellence of the power that works in people’s lives may be of God and not of us.
The Bible paints a picture of what our lives will look like when we live by our own power and resources. Jeremiah 2:13 says, “My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.” The image here is clear. Instead of going to God as the source of everything, the children of Israel were trying to find their own source of “living water.” But their resources were inadequate and they would never be satisfied.
But how can we minister to others if we are drawing from broken cisterns? We want to minister with heavenly wisdom and with the Power of God. We want to be the vessels that God uses to pour out His power and resources into other peoples’ lives. He is the treasure. God’s work is in and through us, but it is God’s work nonetheless. It comes through abiding in Him.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 describes how weak and fragile we really are: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”
This is a supernatural thing going on–that the clay pot would be hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed… perplexed… persecuted… struck down, but not destroyed.” As a Christian, we live in a spiritual battle. If you think about it, a clay pot is not meant to go through any of these things. It is not meant to be hard-pressed on every side, forsaken, or struck down. In all these things it would naturally be destroyed. Yet we go through all of these things, and supernaturally, we are not crushed, or destroyed. This is because God is with us and in us. He protects us, sustains us, carries us, revives us, and makes us overcomers. We have to remember that we are but dust. We are literally “clay pots”! We are made of clay. Remember in Genesis? Let us not think of ourselves more highly than we ought!
Let us not lose sight of our daily need for His Spirit to empower us in the Christian life. We would never make it through day by day without the Lord living in us and enabling us. The trials of life (let alone to serve God and impact lives) would be too much for us without the power of Christ to preserve us.
But we belong to the Lord and so we are victorious. If God touches somebody’s heart, through us, let us never, never think it was us who did it! We are the earthen vessel; He is the treasure–that the power may be of God, and NOT of us.” The clay pot just holds the treasure; it is Jesus who must manifest Himself in our lives. He does that with any Christian who humbles himself, depends on Jesus, and asks Him to do the work.
It is humbling to realize that God wants to use us, but He does! And we don’t need to fear what we encounter in life because the battle belongs to the Lord. David did not volunteer to fight the giant Goliath out of his own self-confidence. He believed in the power of the Lord, His God. In fact, he told Goliath boldly, “…the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47)
We need to have the same perspective in our daily lives. We are the earthen vessels; God is the powerful treasure in our lives; He is the one who brings victory.