“However we possess this precious treasure in frail, human vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.” 2 Cor. 4:7.
We are often referred to as vessels in the Bible. Another way of thinking of the word “vessel” today is to think of a glass bottle, in particular a wine bottle. Although our Father makes both the Wine and the bottle, it is the Wine that is the focus, not the bottle or vessel. As a bottle we are transparent; the Wine is seen in us. However, we need to cleansed and sterilised before being used or we will contaminate the precious Wine that is poured into us and out of us. It is a good lesson in humility when we realise that with a bottle of wine, the bottle is never what is praised and valued but rather the wine that it holds. While the bottle is needed and necessary, it is not the focus, the most important thing is the wine. And when you’re thirsty, an empty bottle isn’t much use.
Bottles can easily be broken and dispensed with or refilled and used again and again. Who would go to a restaurant and drink a wine then rave about the bottle that it came in rather than the wine? Likewise we don’t rave about any bottles, it is silly to lift up a person or vessel as being wonderful when all the time it is the Wine that we are drinking and appreciating from that person or bottle, and He’s the one that deserves all the praise and glory; not the vessel. Now I have applied all this to myself for your sakes, brethren, so that from what I have said of us, you may learn to think of men in accordance with Scripture and not to go beyond that which is written, that none of you may be puffed up and inflated with pride and boast in favour of one minister and teacher against another. What have you that was not given to you? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you had not received it but had gained it by your own efforts? 1 Cor 4:6-7 About the condition of your assembly your boasting is not good (indeed it is most unseemly and entirely out of place). Do you not know that just a little leaven will ferment the whole lump of dough? Purge and clean out the old leaven that you may be fresh, new dough. (1 Cor 5:6,7).
There is no room whatsoever for pride in a bottle for we recognise that we are just a container for that precious Wine and that it is only by the grace and kindness and mercy of God that we can be containers of Him and His Life. The Bible says that God gives grace to the humble and the more you recognise God’s grace at work in your life, the more humble you feel and the more grace He gives you and so it becomes like a perpetual cycle. If you ever tend towards feeling proud of what God is doing in you or through you, just remind yourself that you’re only a bottle or vessel, nothing less and nothing more!
Being purified as a vessel and prepared spiritually is not something that can be shared with anyone else, it is something that has to happen for each individual. A Jewish bridegroom had to take three things to his betrothed; payment or dowry for the bride (Jesus has paid very dearly with His life), a written contract (the new covenant from God), and finally a skin of wine (the Holy Spirit) which they would both drink from when the bride-to-be had agreed to marry him. The Bridegroom would then go away to build and prepare a house for them to live in. The bride was to use this period of time as preparation for her marriage in learning all she could about her husband and learning how to please him.
May we be those who are not only prepared for Him but also purified containers of Christ and His Life, poured out to many!
“The Spirit and the Bride say, COME! And let him who is listening say, COME! And let everyone who is thirsty, (who is painfully conscious of his need of being refreshed, supported and strengthened); and whoever desires to do it, let him COME, take, appropriate and drink the Water of LIFE without cost!” (Rev 22:17).