There were vessels of greater value then: ivory, glass, marble, brass, costly wood (Linda Belleville, IVP New Testament Commentary), but Paul used the most common—jars of clay. Elsewhere, Paul uses this imagery:
“In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Tim.2:20-21)
It will be natural for us to use gold and silver for noble purposes and cheaper things for the less noble. But in this text, we see that God’s requirement for us to be used for noble purposes is not to be transformed into a costlier instrument but to cleanse ourselves.
The treasure is not Paul. It is not Apollos. It is not Peter. The treasure is the gospel inside God’s servants.
Joshua Harris, in I Kissed Dating Goodbye tells a story about his younger brother who was given a bicycle as a gift. But the kid was too young to appreciate the bicycle. For a time, he was playing with the box! It took a while for the Harris family to convince the child that the gift is the bicycle taken out of the box.
Sometimes we are like that. We are more impressed with ourselves and our religious leaders than the message of salvation entrusted to us.
John Macarthur says: “The New Testament was not written by the elite of Egypt. It was not written by the elite of Greece, or Rome, or even Israel. The greatest scholars in the world at that time were down in Egypt. They were in the greatest Library of Antiquity at Alexandria. And the most distinguished philosophers were at Athens and the most powerful leaders and movers of men were in Rome and the religious geniuses were in Israel's Temple. And God never used any of them, none of them. He just used clay pots. He passed by Herodotus, the historian. He passed by Socrates, the philosopher. He passed by Hippocrates, the father of medicine; Plato, the philosopher; Aristotle. He passed by Euclid, the mathematician; Archimedes, the father of mechanics; Hipparchus the astronomer; Cicero, the orator; Virgil the poet. He passed them all. Why? Well He was looking for clay pots.”
So when the time came for Jesus to formed his team, he chose peasants:
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13)
Do you want to be used by God? Recognize that the treasure is not you; it is the gospel.
We have so little worth. What counts is God’s glory in the gospel.
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