Friday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 3:10—4:18 (NKJV)
3:10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.
12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.
13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
In the first part of our reading Paul describes the splendor and glory of the message that Christians are privileged to treasure and to share. Beginning at verse 7 of chapter 4, Paul introduces a contrast: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” It seems contradictory that the greatest treasure would be held by the most fragile of containers. But God has a method to His means. He doesn’t want the vessel to get all the attention. If a present is extravagantly wrapped, the receiver of the gift directs attention to the box, the wrapper, the bow. The gift inside seems to be “helped along” by an outer covering.
God has consistently used humble means to deliver glorious gifts. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were facing battle with the Midianites. God had Gideon reduce the warriors from 32,000 to 300, armed with nothing more than trumpets and torches “inside pitchers” (Judges 7). When the battle was won, clearly the victory belonged to the Lord. When we carry the precious cargo of the Gospel, we want nothing to compete with its glorious splendor. May we strive to be humble containers of the Gospel, that its light may shine through us.
We pray: “O Christ, our true and only Light, enlighten those who sit in night; let those afar now hear Thy voice and in Thy fold with us rejoice.” (TLH 512:1)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.