Comprehend Our Frailty

by Wayne Barber

We've been talking about losing heart, as we have looked at 2 Corinthians 4.  "Losing heart" is when a believer turns back to doing things his own way. He chooses the way of the flesh instead of trusting God. It's a sad day when this happens. If we are going to live without losing heart, we are going to have to learn some basics.

In this article I would like to address one of those basics: We must understand the frailty of our flesh! "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).  Our eyes drift immediately to two words: "treasure" and "earthen vessels."

First, let's look at earthen vessels: The word for "earthen" is ostrkinos in the Greek It is used of a clay pot! Used metaphorically, it pictures human frailty. The word for "vessel" is skeuos, which is a hollow container to put things in. Quite a word picture isn't it? Unless we have God's Spirit living in us then we are just empty clay pots.

The Greek word for "treasure" is the\sauros, which refers to wealth that has been accumulated, not overnight but over time! That which has been stored up. True wealth! Now, if you follow the context very carefully you will see that the gospel message is not the treasure he is talking about! The treasure is Christ, the glory and the grace of God! Christ is the treasure that has come to live in us!  He who is the love; He who is the light; He who is the life has come to live in us!

This treasure is the jewel of God which has been deposited in us as believers—who are simple empty clay pots! Paul understands that he is a simple vessel that has no power in himself! Without power to deliver the message; without power to minister apart from Christ, he was only a frail weak, pitiful pot of clay, capable only of coming up with depraved sinful agendas and fleshly goals in ministry.

If we are going to live without losing heart, we must learn this basic truth. We must understand what we are not, apart from Christ. Apart from Him, we are just earthen vessels. Clay pots. But, because of the grace of God, Christ Himself, the very Glory of God, has come to live in us! Oh, what a treasure! He not only gives us the message but He is the message! He wants His life and light to shine through us so that those who live in spiritual darkness can see the Treasure that now lives in us! "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves" (v. 4:7).

The Greek for "surpassing" is huperbolé\—something that is taken way beyond normal. In this context it means way above; a far better way! The verb "will be" in this verse is in the present tense, which means that this power might always be of God and not from ourselves. It is in the subjunctive mood, which makes it "iffy." You see, sometimes we choose for the power to be of us instead of from God, because we would rather do it ourselves. Paul knows this basic!  He has already said that his adequacy was not from himself but from God. Christ who is the Treasure lived in Paul to do through him what could not be done by a clay pot!

So, to live without losing heart is to understand this basic! Apart from Christ in us we are empty clay pots—capable of nothing but empty ideas and fleshly creativity, which only entertains and does not see people changed! 

2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
Disciple Banner Ad