Treasures in Earthen Vessels

By Dr. John Greever

2 Corinthians 4:5, 7 “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord…We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”

Sometimes, surprisingly, the most precious treasures are found in common containers.  God has chosen to place His surpassing transcendent gifts and realities in lives that the world shuns as not worthy.  Of course we are not worthy, but that is the point; our unworthiness magnifies God’s worthiness when God extols His greatness in our insufficient and weak humanness.

The real problem is that those who perceive themselves to be wise and intelligent keep imposing their broken perception (which they wrongly judge to be magnificently insightful) onto God’s eternal wisdom.  And without fail when this is done, human analysis and projection falls far short of the glorious truth of God.  Human wisdom becomes, in point of fact, foolish.

The Lord in His glorious wisdom and will chooses the weak, the small, and those whom the world treats as nothing to exalt and magnify His name and power.  This is to the glory of the Lord!

One of the tragic effects of sin in the human fabric of being is the loss of mental ability to reason in accord with ultimate reality.  As a result, we constantly see things from a “lower” perspective; rather than a “higher” perspective – God’s perspective.  Thus, we continually evaluate incorrectly, and we make mighty and assertive pronouncements that sound intelligent, but in fact, are magnificently inane.  We would do well to heed the command of the heavenly Father made to Peter when he dared to insert his opinion in a holy moment on the Mount of Transfiguration, “Be quiet, and listen to Jesus” (Luke 9:35, paraphrase).

Yes, we would do well to begin always with the clear teaching of the text of Scripture, then apply our intellectual capacities to the text in a way that honors what the text says, so that the truth of God is maintained in human contemplation. 

The point is (according to our text) that our humanness is to become the glass through whom the greatness and power of God are magnified for all to see.  We must not, and we will not, rob God of His glory to elevate ourselves; this is IDOLATRY!  We preach Christ, not ourselves; we have the treasure of the gospel in our human weakness and brokenness that the power of God may be exalted.  Then others will be drawn to Jesus, not to us; we are simply servants of our Lord by being servants of His message of hope.  There is no greater way to dignify and ennoble our human frailty and smallness than to be the container for the transcendent life and message of God.  We say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30).  As we get lower, He is higher in the perception of others; this is the way to enshrine our significance.

Dear Christian friend, you have in your weak and insufficient human life the grandiose truth and life of Christ.  You cannot be honored higher than this!  Live in the joyful reflection of this reality; become the light of Light to those in darkness around.  Shine with joy, gratitude, love, and humility; give the glory to Jesus and His gospel.  No matter what others think about you or say about you, you are wonderfully honored by being simply a humble vessel for the incomprehensible treasure of God.

Prayer: Dear Lord, keep me from exalting myself!  Help me to remember that I have no higher significance than that which You gave to me by choosing me, saving me, and placing the life of Christ in me.  Help me to learn to go lower, so I can exalt You.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University. He is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest and is a speaker at this year’s Founders Midwest Conference. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information. To register for the conference click here.

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