“For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
1 Corinthians 1:17
Even in these very early days of the church, there was division as individuals chose to align themselves with certain teachers of the Christian faith. They would claim to follow a man, seeming to cling to his wisdom, instead of simply fixing their eyes on Christ and looking to His truth in all things.
How tempting it can be to do this. To love someone’s manner of teaching and the God-given wisdom coming from their lips, and place them above other teachers. We can forget that they’re vessels of clay, just as we are. Any true wisdom that comes from them has been given to them from the same Spirit that dwells within and speaks to the heart of every believer in Christ.
In moments when the spotlight seems to be on us, whether in preaching, teaching a Bible study, leading in worship, or sharing a testimony of God’s work in our life, there is a danger to get caught up in technicalities and to be concerned with “words of eloquent wisdom.” But while it is important to be prepared, to strive to present our best before the throne of God and praise Him greatly, we must remember that He is the focus. It isn’t about us. It isn’t about our words or how everything sounds in the moment. We come before Him with our meager offerings and pray that He will glorify Himself through this clay vessel. And He will do so. We need merely fix our eyes on Him, surrender ourselves, and seek to bless His heart.
Our desire should be that God will be glorified in our weakness and failure. That we will see Him move and He will show Himself mighty to save in such a way that He alone is exalted. The power of the cross, the power in the truth of the gospel of Christ—His life, His death in our place, His resurrection—stands on its own. Our God saves. It is His Spirit that makes the Word of God come alive, not anything we do to try and make people understand or to appeal to their emotions in an effort to obtain a response. Understanding can only come when the God of glory shines light into someone’s heart. When He chooses to reveal Himself, unfolding truth and life before them, removing the veil of darkness from their eyes.
It isn’t about any of us. It is entirely about our Lord. It is about His power and the glory of His grace. He is able to speak through us and showcase His greatness even if we’ve stumbled over our words and forgotten details and feel that we’ve messed up royally. We can trust Him here, in our weaknesses. He knew them beforehand and still chose to call each of us to be a witness for the glory of His name.
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,
with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’
has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
2 Corinthians 4:5-7