But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
Paul speaks of us as “earthen vessels” to help illustrate the great dichotomy between us and the exceedingly valuable gift that we have been given. In the verse above this, he tells us that God “hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” God put the very life of Christ in us. Colossians 1:27.
The purpose of using fragile, ugly “earthen vessels” is to demonstrate His Glory. If the vessels were marvelous, strong and capable, the vessel would receive the glory. However, God is able to use us as vessels to show others His glory.
These “earthen vessels” will not last long, and they just return to the dust. In 2 Corinthians 5:1, Paul reminds us that these bodies dissolve. However, there is something eternal that is within us when we are saved by God’s grace.
The work that God is doing with these vessels is more than just some fixing up. He is creating something useful and beautiful. “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” Jeremiah 18:3-4. We are not making ourselves better. We are not creating something beautiful. God is the only one that can do that.
What results will only bring glory to God. Anything that brings glory to ourselves, is not useful or beautiful. If we do something that is good, where does that come from? Who gets the glory? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
What about the things that happen in our lives that seem bad or difficult? Sometimes pressure is what is required to mold the clay to its best. God can use anything to display His glory if we let Him.
In John 11, we read of Mary and Martha and Lazarus. When Lazarus falls ill, Mary and Martha send for Jesus, knowing full well that He is able to heal Lazarus. Here is Jesus’ response: “When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” John 11:4 Jesus could have healed Lazarus and Mary and Martha would have been extremely grateful and would have worshiped Jesus. However, they would have missed out on the revelation of His glory in a much greater measure.
We need to be willing to allow God to do the work that He wants to do in our lives, so the He will be glorified. We so not know the end result of what is being worked right now. We cannot see the final piece, but God can. We need to be careful of limiting God to only working in ways that we understand and think are best.