Vessels and Tools

I’ve always thought of multi-tools, those knives that enclose a collection of fold-out tools, as a modern invention. The first commercial wilderness survival tool came out in 1983, although the Swiss Army had used similar pocket knife survival tools starting all the way back in World War II. The tools became popular among outdoorsmen. But little did they know that the original multi-tool was not a knife or toolkit, it was just an earthen container. You see in the first century, and many centuries before that, clay containers were the ultimate multi-tool. They were tools for many purposes.

Paul may have had this point in the back of his mind when he wrote: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

In this text, Paul is following up his speech about proclaiming the light of God’s word to a dark world with the idea that he is just an instrument or “vessel.” The word “vessel” is used a lot in the Old and New Testaments when it comes to presenting God’s messages and obeying His will. But the main idea here is purpose. Clay containers were by far the most common tools back in biblical days. These served purposes as varied as holding water, storing food, securing money, organizing documents, holding torches, the list goes on and on. It was the ancients’ multi-tool. But it could only achieve its true purpose, the intention behind its creation, by surrendering to the will of its maker. We also have that privilege today friends. By surrendering our daily agendas to the big calling God has given in our lives, we’ll find a purpose and joy that we couldn’t have imagined otherwise. And Scripture is clear what our calling as disciples of Christ is. Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Let’s enjoy God’s purpose for us!


“Multi-Tool.” Wikipedia. 28 April 2020. Accessed May 12, 2020. Online.