Vessels of Victory
Pastor Steve Wellman, New Hope Church, 200 E. New Hope Road, Goldsboro,
II Corinthians 5:11-21
One of the greatly underestimated temptations is to go through life viewing oneself as a victim. To carry a victim mentality is to operate under the mindset that we have been cheated. The Psalmist proclaimed, “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places (16:5-6).” Not so for the person who believes they have been dealt an inferior hand. Wasn’t this the issue of the third steward in Jesus’ parable when the steward converses with the master? The steward accused the master of reaping where he didn’t so. It’s hard to live the fullness of the Christian life with an underlying suspicion God has short-sold us. Compare that mentality with Paul’s message in II Corinthians 5. We have been reconciled with God to become vessels of reconciliation for others. If something can pour forth from me onto others, then I need to view the gifts of my life as worthy of overflowing. That’s impossible to do if I’m comparing my life with others and estimating the measure of my life as inferior. Rather than operate as a vessel for good things, I will carry a silent sense of envy, jealousy, and resentment for having less when others have more. Jesus showed to maintain this mentality might seem harmless, but it is potentially fatal, and it certainly reduces the good things God would supply if we renounced the victim mentality. We must ask ourselves what defines us, our experience, or God’s reconciling mercy?
The all-sufficiency of God’s reconciling work enables us to move past whatever baggage our past involves. Maybe we did have unfair things that happened to us, but once we are reconciled to God, we have a new identity. Whenever the memory of the past is stirred, we must focus on God’s power to make all things new. It’s possible to sabotage the future by refusing to let go of the past. God’s reconciling power is to renovate whatever life has left fractured. If we continue to live as jaded people, then we allow the past to dictate the future, even if we profess we believe in the power of reconciliation. A clear signal of whether we are living into the new identity God has given us will show itself through our desire to see others reconciled to God. If we continue to resent others, and harbor jealousy in our hearts for what our neighbor has that we lack, then we have failed to view rightly the riches God places in our lives. Once we receive the gift of reconciliation, we will overflow as vessels of victory. That which was once fractured is now made whole. This is not to say no memories of past hurts remain, but we can view them differently.
For many of us, the primary reason joy proves elusive is that we approach spirituality too self-centered. Blessings aren’t meant to be restricted to ourselves but poured forth. We are blessed to become a blessing. We are reconciled to God to become vessels of reconciliation. As we pour forth onto others what God has poured into us, we will notice the identity of reconciliation hold. Those open to becoming vessels of victory can release the chains the past once held. This in no way excuses whatever happened to us. Believers aren’t people who shrug their shoulders at abuse. However, we also do not allow the past to dictate the future. Bad things have occurred that we didn’t deserve, but those bad things we weren’t responsible for can become worse things we are responsible for based on how we respond. We are not to allow the sun to set on our anger. The pain you caused me was your responsibility. My resentment that I stoke and refuse to release is not on you but on me. God’s miracle of reconciliation is to take a fractured life and make it whole. Those who experience this blessing don’t attempt to hoard it for themselves but pour it forth even upon those who did them wrong. We will indeed know we are living into the triumphant life God has prepared for us when we are vessels of His victory.