By Nikki Lemmon
I love teacups and teapots and all sorts of fun and unique mugs. I have collected them since I was a little girl and have run out of space to display them all. Despite not having a favorite, I use them all for different drinks and times, like hot chocolate, soothing teas, or my favorite, or my morning coffee (aka java joy). Some teacups and mugs are sturdy; some are so dainty and fragile that I almost hesitate to use them, but I do anyway, knowing and realizing their purpose. It would be a shame not to use any of these beautiful and unique vessels.
But these vessels would be pointless without the salubrious liquid inside of them to drink. My enjoyment of them has everything to do with the liquid treasure inside of them- it tastes good, smells good, and feels good and warm in my hands as I hold the vessel that contains it. It satisfies me in a way that the empty teacup and mug by itself cannot do.
In the Bible, God likens us to earthen vessels, or jars of clay. Like the master Potter, he fashioned us all in beautiful and unique ways. And despite our human weakness, we are each useful for his purposes at various times and various places. And just like the teacups and mugs hold the liquid treasure inside them that makes them valuable to me, we too have a treasure inside us that makes us valuable to the Potter.
This precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own.
2 Corinthians 4:7
Just prior to verse 7 above, Paul says that God has shone the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ into our hearts. God adorns His children with the brilliant treasure of the good news about Jesus. Wherever we go and with whomever we encounter, we give off Christ’s light and fragrant aroma. We would not be able to do that by being an empty vessel, despite outward beauty, uniqueness, charisma, or even our frailty. But because God is working through us, we live a treasured and beautiful life of faith before him and others, and he gets the glory and acclamation. The less obvious we are, as fragile earthen vessels, the more brilliantly he shines. Which is why Paul says this great treasure has been put in jars of clay so that God would be the one to be extolled and not us. It’s not the vessel that is the treasure; it’s the content of that vessel!
I use each one of my cups and mugs because I take pleasure in them. They don’t just sit there in a display case, empty and unused because I think they could easily break. Each one is precious to me and has the opportunity to fulfill its purpose in my house for my delight. May we always humbly walk before the Lord, in his strength and not our own, so that the brilliant treasure of the good news about Jesus will shine through us as we live for him.
Help us not to cloud God’s glory
Nor with self His light to dim;
May each thought to Christ be captive,
Emptied to be filled with Him. —Anonymous