God’s Only Inventory

We all know that to get a job accomplished requires the right tools.  Mechanics needs automotive diagnostic tools.  Doctors need the latest in medical equipment.  Businessmen need up-to-date technology.  Landscape workers need lawnmowers.  Delivery companies need vehicles.  You get the idea.

God’s Plan for Changing the World

In the most important task in the world, the redemption of human souls, the all-powerful Creator has restricted Himself to using people.  He could choose perfect instruments – or none at all.  But, by divine design, His only inventory is flawed people.  The Bible calls us cracked pots.

Second Corinthians 4:7 says this: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  Eugene Peterson translates it this way: “f you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” (The Message)

We are described as earthen vessels, unadorned clay pots, or jars of clay.  In biblical times these were very common, often flawed, pots that were primarily used for household trash or carrying human waste.  Not very exciting is it? It is mind-boggling to realize that Almighty God has chosen to restrict His work to tools like us.

Yet, His design is His glory.  He is so powerful, gracious, wise, and sufficient that He can use this repertoire of imperfect, flaky, unreliable human material to accomplish eternal work.  What a God we serve.

Three Applications

As you think of God’s inventory, consider these brief applications:

1. When you observe the imperfections of others, focus on their potential, not their problems – Jesus warned us not judge the “speck” in another person’s eye when we might be ignoring the “log” that is in our own.  We might say it this way: “Don’t judge the ‘crack’ in another person’s life when you have a ‘gaping crevice’ in your own life.” God has chosen to use imperfect people for His glory, so we need to give one another some grace as we pray for others’ surrender to the power within them, in spite of their flaws.

2. When your church lets you down, remember God’s determination in spite of the difficulties – A church is an assembly of flawed people who have been called to community in order to encourage one another and serve the cause of Christ.  Your congregation is a collection of “cracked pots.”  You can expect problems, misunderstandings, flawed decisions, and unfortunate mistakes.  Again, your own humility about your own flaws will keep you from responding too harshly to the imperfections of your home base of ministry.  Jesus, knowing our failings, has still declared, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).  He will work to demonstrate the excellence of His power through His people as we keep our eyes on Him and trust Him to work in and through us during all the ups and downs of life and ministry.

3. When you fail to “perform”, thank Him for His power in the midst of your weaknesses – Paul’s familiar words offer great encouragement when you become more keenly aware of your flawed personality, relationships, and efforts.  Paul wrote, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong”(2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  Of course, this is not an excuse for sinful behavior, which always needs to be acknowledged and confessed.  Rather, it is a reminder that our strength is not in ourselves and our aim is not to glory in the pot, but the Potter and His power.

Be Encouraged!

As you consider this, let Paul’s words encourage you:

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.   But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.  But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God — and righteousness and sanctification and redemption — that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the LORD'” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

My friend, God wants the “excellence of His power” to be seen in your imperfect life as it is completely yielded to Him.   His design is that no flesh would glory in His presence.  It is all of Christ – and all for His glory.

Today, thank Him for His amazing grace that has purchased your clay pot at the cost of the blood of Christ.  When you consider that with firm resolve and glorious purposes He has chosen to use our flawed humanity as the transmitter of His power, pour out your heart in humble gratitude.  Treat others with grace.

My fellow “jar of clay,” join me in crying out with the Psalmist, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory!” (Psalm 115:1)

Copyright © 2011 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.