2Co 4:5-7 “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
We are, by our human nature, self-centered creatures. Evidence of this is on display around us every day. It is apparent in our stores today as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The root of the shortages on our store shelves is not so much lack of items as it is people hoarding items because we think of ourselves as being more important than others.
While it is in our human nature to desire the preeminence, our godly nature teaches us preeminence belongs to Christ. Our self-centeredness makes us want to tell people about what we have done. The power of the Holy Spirit enables us with a desire to tell people what Jesus has done. The Greek word translated as “not” in verse five is defined as being the “absolutely negative adverb” (see Strong’s): under no circumstance are we to preach ourselves.
God has humbled us by showing us plainly the ministration of death under the law. Therefore, we can preach Christ Jesus the Lord with great joy, knowing that in Him is the ministration of life. Any good thing we have ever thought, said, or done originated in the storehouse of God’s great grace. Preaching the good news of Jesus comes from God.
Being willing and joyful to be a servant of the Church is of God. We do not have the capacity outside of Christ to willing be slaves (see Strong’s definition of servants as used here). Paul made it quite plain that the only way this happens is for Jesus’ sake. In other words, Jesus is the channel by which this comes to pass.
We have only to look at our own lives to see the miraculous power of God. In the beginning, God commanded the light to shine out of darkness. Paul did not say God commanded the light to shine into the darkness. The power of God’s commandment was such that the light overwhelmed the darkness from within.
By this same power, God has illuminated our hearts. Again, Paul did not say that God has shined into our hearts (as an external force working from without). God has shined in our hearts where, by His miraculous love, He has been pleased to make His abode. God has given us great light.
The light of God illuminates us from within by knowledge. This is not just any knowledge, but specifically the knowledge of the glory [“glory (as very apparent), in a wide application (literally or figuratively, objectively or subjectively): – dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship” – Strong’s definition] of God. By the light that God has commanded, it is made very apparent that He is worthy of honor, praise, and worship. He is clearly dignified and glorious.
Philip once said “Lord, show us the father and it will be sufficient for us (Joh 14:8)” to which Jesus replied “he that has seen me has seen the Father (Joh 14:9).” The writer of the Hebrew letter tells us that we do not yet see all things put under Jesus, but we do see Jesus (Heb 2:8-9). Seeing Jesus, we have the illumination in our hearts that comes from knowing that God is openly worthy of our praise.
If we had a gold bar, most of us would look for a secure place to keep it. We would want it in a safe, a safety deposit box, or a bank vault at the very least. Certainly, we would not put it in a clay pot. Yet, God has given us a treasure more lasting and precious than gold, and that is exactly where He put it; in these vessels of clay. It is perfectly preserved and safe in these earthen vessels, because the excellency of the power that keeps it is from God.
May we rejoice with great joy as we consider the miracle of light and truth that God has given us in the face of Jesus Christ!