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    by Rebecca Livermore

Surpassing Greatness
Date Posted: July 18, 2007

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves (2 Corinthians 4:7).

When I read the Scripture above, the two words that most stood out to me were, "surpassing greatness." I wondered what exactly that means, and how it relates to the rest of the verse. In order to find out, I did two things. First, I looked at the preceding verses in order to determine what treasure was being referred to, then I took a bit of time to study this verse out in the Greek. After doing both of those things, I came up with the following paraphrase:

The repository of God’s light that shines out of darkness is housed in frail, clay vessels of humanity. God’s use of imperfect people makes it obvious to everyone that exceedingly superior and limitless power and strength, and even the ability to work miracles, comes from Him, rather than from the ability and ego of man.

As I studied this, I noticed four primary things.

First, God wants us to be a storehouse, or a treasury of His light in order for that light to dispel the darkness that is in the world.

Second, we are frail, clay vessels. We are utterly dependent on God, and apart from Him, we can do nothing of value. God calls us, not because of our strength, but because of our weakness. Other Scriptures bear this out as well. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 1:27 we’re told that God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the wise, 2 Corinthians 12:10 reminds us that when we’re weak, then we’re strong, and 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. For me the clincher is found in 2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”

The third thing that stood out to me is that I believe that it is God’s desire for His power to be manifested though us. Again, back to the Greek, the words, “surpassing greatness” means superiority, excellence, preeminence beyond measure, and exceedingly. The power that is spoken of includes, among other things, the power for performing miracles, moral power and excellence of soul, and power and resources arising from numbers.

Finally, I found it interesting that the Greek word for ourselves is transliterated as, “ego,” with its most common English translations being I, me, and my. As I thought about this, I considered the possibility that when we talk about “our ministry” or what “we” are doing for God, it can be evidence that our ego is getting in the way of God’s surpassing greatness being manifested through our lives. The practical application, of course, is to search our hearts and evaluate whether or not we consider the work we are doing to be our own ministry or God’s. Are we doing something for God, or is God doing something through us?

Father, we pray that You indeed will use us as storehouses for your light so that it can shine out to a dark and dying world. Help us to totally depend on You, and to admit without reservation that we are frail, clay vessels. We thank You that in spite of our humanity, that You desire to use us for Your glory. Help us to move ourselves out of the way and to focus on what You are doing through us rather than what we are doing for You. -- Amen.

Thought: Which of the four points above stands out to you the most? Is there something you should do in response?

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Biography Information:
Rebecca Livermore is a speaker and freelance writer from Denver, Colorado. Her passion is helping people grow spiritually. To learn more about her ministry, and to read her articles on spiritual disciplines, visit http://www.rebeccalivermore.com.
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