Life is a temporary assignment
2 Corinthians 4:5-18
The scripture gives us many examples that life is in fact a temporary assignment.
Rather than look at the negatives of the fact that life is a temporary assignment, this morning I'd like to look at the positives, discovering what we do have and building on it.
The way we look at life and serving God helps us to determine how we will fulfill it.
If we look on serving Christ as a burden instead of privilege, we will be a drudge and do only what is required.
Some people even look on service as a punishment from God.
Out of a reading today audiences some classic examples of understanding this positive aspect of living.
It kept him from being a quitter (verse one)
he confessed to the Corinthians that his trials in Asia had almost brought him to despair
It kept him from being a deceiver (versus 2-4)
Paul had nothing to hide, either in his personal life were at his preaching of the word of God. Everything was open and honest; there was no deception or distortion of the word. The Judaizers were guilty of twisting scriptures to fit their own preconceived interpretations, and ignorant people were willing to follow them
It kept him from being a self promoter (5-6)
Paul made it clear many times and in a reading today "we preach not ourselves"
the Judaizers enjoyed preaching about themselves and glorying in their achievements. They were not servants who tried to help people; they were dictators who exploited people. Paul was certainly a man who practised genuine humility, he didn’t trust in himself, or commend himself, or preach of himself.
It would have been easy for Paul to build a fan club for himself and take advantage of people. But he sought only to lead people to Jesus Christ and to build them up in the faith.
Although life is only short when we realise what we possess in Jesus Christ it will also keep us from quitting from being a deceiver and from promoting ourselves.
Our reading this morning (7-12)
affirms for us that we have a valuable treasure within us.
Paul reminds us it is the treasure within the vessel that gives the vessel its value.
The image of the vessel is a reoccurring one in scripture, and from it we can learn many lessons.
God has made us the way we are so that we can do the work he wants us to do
the important thing about a vessel is that it be clean, empty, and available for service.
2Timothy 2:21 reminds us each of us must seek to become a vessel unto honour, sanctified or set apart from ready for the masters use, prepared for every good work.
We are earthen vessel so that we might depend on God's power and not our own.
We need to focus on the treasure not on the vessel.
Paul was not afraid of suffering or trial, because he knew that God would guard the vessel so long as Paul was guarding the treasure.
The missionary who opened inland China to the gospel, J. Hudson Taylor, used to say, "all God's giants had been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on him being with them."
sometimes God permits our vessel to be jarred so that some of the treasure will spill out and enrich others.
Suffering reveals not only the weakness of mankind but also the glory of God.
We must also focus on the master and not the servant.
Dr John Henry Jowett said, "Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing." he was right-often the power in Ministry comes from a broken heart. So it is:
Service that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing. When we serve God from our heads or in a clinical way the outcome is quite different to when we serve God from a broken humble contrite heart.
It often takes a family gathering or a time of celebration for us to value who we are and whose we are.
Today we celebrate the birthday of the church and what better day to re-evaluate who we are and whose we are.
Instead of focusing on the shell that is the earthen vessel, that form that we tend to recognise one another by-let's celebrate today the treasure that lies within us. True the earthen vessel ages it wrinkles it moans and it groans and sometimes we don't like what we see or even feel. But the treasure that lies within us is much greater than any outward appearance.
Who we are is deeper than what we look like.
If life on earth is only a temporary assignment we would achieve a lot more in the short time that we have by allowing the release of the treasure within.
The love of God
the forgiveness of God
the companionship of the holy spirit
the gifts and abilities that God has equipped us with
let these be released in each of us today.
Go In Joy As The People Who Have Received The Holy Spirit.
Go And Bring That Life Into All The World.
And May Each Day Hold A Greeting From The Spirit Of God,
Each Night Be Visited By The Dove Of Peace
And The Holy Life Of God-With-Us
Be Seen Anew In Wisdom, Truth And Grace. Amen.