Posted by: The Simple Guy | January 18, 2010

We have this treasure in EARTHEN VESSELS

Before, I posted emphasizing the Treasure.  Now I will emphasize EARTHEN VESSELS.  (you know, fair and balanced coverage)  😛

First, this song that is also brought to my mind as I consider 2 Cor 4:7-10.

Lyrics to The Measure Of A Man :
This world can analyze and size you up
And throw you on the scales
They can IQ you and run you through
Their rigorous details
They can do their best to rate
And they’ll place you on their charts
And then back it up with scientific smarts

But there’s more to what you’re worth
Than what their human eyes can see

Oh I say the measure of a man
Is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘Cause I found out the measure of a man
God knows and understand
For He looks inside to the bottom of your heart
And what’s in the heart defines
The measure of a man

Well you can doubt your worth
And search for who you are and where you stand
But God made you in His image
When He formed you in His hands
And He looks at you with mercy
And He sees you through His love
You’re His child and that will always be enough

For there’s more to what your worth
Than you could ever comprehend


You can spend your life pursuing physical perfection
But there’s so much more than ever meets the eye
For God looks through the surface
And he defines your worth by what is on the inside

Oh I say the measure of a man
Is not how tall you stand
How wealthy or intelligent you are
‘Cause I found out the measure of a man
God knows and understand
For He looks inside to the bottom of your heart
And what’s in the heart defines
The measure of a man

Honestly, I don’t recall how much of this I have shared up to this point, but I want to put some things in the background before I get to the text we have looked at.

About a month ago, I realized that I have recently dealt with some depression.  Actually it seems to come this time of year for me, and as I think back it has been there for at least 10 years.  I always thought it was the job I do, or being tired, or a whole list of things.  But in late November I was lying in bed one night not sleeping and realized how lonely I was feeling.  Even with my loving family right there in the house;  my awesome wife who is my best friend right there with me.  But still I felt so alone.  What really shook me was how familiar the feeling was.  I realized this was not a new thing, just something I had ignored.  Folks, I am not a person who spends much time thinking about myself, I look outward and am very task oriented.  I drive myself pretty hard to get things done.

Enough navel gazing, the point is that I realized I am not as strong as I think I am.  I realized I haven’t been for a while.  This shook me to the core.  I was in the process of gearing up for a monstrous task at work, and the realization that I was not “ok” shook me up.  I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to hold up under the pressure, but there was no turning back.  My mind went back to a pastor Heather and I knew about 15 years ago who had a nervous breakdown.  It was not a pretty thing to watch.  I didn’t want to go there – oh, how I didn’t want to go there. . .

At that same time, we as a church were starting our study of 2 Cor, and I preached on the first few verses of the first chapter.  (the God of all comfort)

Fast forward through Dec, the job was harder than I anticipated, the strain more than I could have predicted.  But God came through.

At the beginning of the new year, our company put together a way that we could get a discount on our medical insurance.  They challenged each of us employees to come in for a health screening where they checked us 4 different ways.  If we passed in 2 of the 4 categories, and took an online medical evaluation we could get 20% off from what we pay out of our paychecks toward insurance.  I passed on all 4, and took the online exam.  Took about 20 minutes with the computer asking me all kinds of questions.  The computer says I’m depressed, but healthy.  (that seems funny to me, examined by a computer 🙂 ).

My boss came over later to congratulate me on passing on all 4 categories.  He asked if I found the online health screening  helpful.   He was hoping it wasn’t all a waste of time for me.  I laughed and said that the computer thought I was depressed.  He seemed concerned, and was taken back a bit.  I was able to take him aside, and share with him what I have been learning lately.  I did a search online at my computer at work and showed him these verses.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 RSV
(7)  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.
(8)  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
(9)  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
(10)  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

I asked him if he would have thought I was someone who was depressed.  He exclaimed “Absolutely not!”  That is when I told him, “This is why.  By man-made measurements, I AM depressed, but I am not defeated.  I AM struck down, but not destroyed.  The strength and stability you see is from Christ in me, not just from me.”  You see, this boss was the one who volunteered me up for this huge project, and then afterward he really felt bad about it because of the hours I had to put in, etc.  But I was able to tell him that even though some would say I am not ok, they can’t measure the “treasure” within this earthen vessel. That way God gets the glory.

Friends, I don’t want you to think I am condemning you with my last post about treasuring God.  I simply want you to know how DEAR this treasure has been to me as I have gone to my own well and found it empty.  I am SO GLAD that isn’t all I have!

Of course I am needy!  BUT HE ISN’T!  Of course I am broken, BUT HE ISN’T!

Let me put it another way so you can see a little bit of what has been so dear to  me lately.

I had been listening to someone talk about the things that Obama wants to do and all of the power grabs and such.  They had spoken of the consolidation of power he seemed (to them) to be in the process of.  One that comes at the expense of our freedom.  Then I thought of Psalm 2 and realized again how every man who has ever consolidated power had to get that power at someone else’s expense.  However, God doesn’t need anything from me.  He is self-sustaining.  The power is all His anyway.  He comes to me because He wants to.  Not because He somehow needs to get something from me in order to exploit me and expand His power base.  What an obsurd thought!  How laughable!  The fact that He needs NOTHING from me, and yet is still there for me is such a comfort when I am at the end of myself.

When I think of the treasure in earthen vessels, I try to put it in a picture I can see for now.  I picture a cereal bowl full of diamonds.  The diamonds don’t get their value from the cereal bowl, actually they seem like they really don’t belong there.  But what a privilege for the cereal bowl!  (I know, I’m weird, but do you see what I mean?)

To sum it up, my weakness isn’t even an issue for Him.  It is so overshadowed by His adequacy that it isn’t even worth mentioning!  The cereal bowl isn’t even worth comparing to the diamonds inside.  (seems like someone said something like that somewhere only better . . .

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 RSV
(16)  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.
(17)  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,




  1. May the Lord comfort you, heal your soul, give new song in your heart. May He continue to fill you with His strength, His love and grace. Blessings to you and your family!

  2. Love you!

    And, I’m thankful the Lord brought you through 🙂

  3. Amen to what Natasa has said.
    Thanks for the thought of a cereal bowl full of diamonds. I love that image. I may steal it for a poem (with credit to you, of course).

  4. Rejoice! “Depressed but healthy” means that you are not “clinically depressed.” Clinical depression is when the depression is so severe that you begin to have actual physical problems (due to not eating, not sleeping, etc.) that can result in physical problems needing treatment from a medical doctor. Depression that doesn’t go away, or any illness that doesn’t go away or can’t be cured, is “chronic.” Are you sure you aren’t just introspective? I, too, know a couple of pastors, one a missionary, who had nervous breakdowns. So sad.

  5. Craig,

    I can certainly relate to your feelings. There are times when we are very pressed in spirit and these are the times that cause us to look afresh at Him who is our life and our treasure. We are never forsaken by the one who loved us and gave Himself for us, even though at times there is a sense of abandoment.

  6. I love that verse that you quoted, Craig, because Paul was not in denial about what was happening to them, nor did he have to be super-spiritual and sanctimonious with a fake smile on his face. He acknowledged what was happening and their real human feelings, but acknowledged also the source of hope.

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