“For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves” (1 Corinthians 4:20).
We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that is, in our mortal selves. In Chapter 7 of the Book of Judges, we read that Gideon and his 300 soldiers also had earthen vessels when they came up against the camp of the Midianites and the Amalekites who were “as numerous as locusts” (Judges 7:12). Inside their earthen vessels were torches and when the soldiers of Gideon were all in position the trumpet was blown and they all smashed their earthen vessels so that the light could shine forth and the enemy fled.
God had reduced the number of Israelites to confront the enemy from 32,000 to 300, “lest Israel become boastful, saying, ‘My own power has delivered me.’ (Judges 7:2).
Our earthen vessels, in which we have this treasure of the light of Christ must also be broken if that light is to shine forth, so Paul tells us; and for the same reason; that the power may be of God and not of self. The breaking of self therefore, is part of God’s plan of sanctification. Without the breaking we are useless to the kingdom and, sadly, in modern western Christianity there are too many unbroken men establishing and operating “ministries” in which the power is of self and not of God. They cannot and do not last, of course, but while they do, the name of Christ Jesus is exploited for base gain.
Jesus demonstrated the necessity for brokenness in feeding the five thousand, when He took the bread and blessed it, and then He broke it so that it could be distributed to the world. His people are meant to be the broken bread sent into a hungry world to feed it and nourish it with the light of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, firstly as Lord, and then as Saviour. The blessing comes first but then must come the breaking before the bread of heaven can be sent forth and feed the hungry.