Treasures in Jars of Clay
2Corinthians 4:7-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you.
The supremely valuable message of salvation in Jesus Christ has been entrusted by God to frail and fallible human beings (“jars of clay”). “Earthen Vessels” – in ancient times it was a common practice to bury treasures inside clay jars. Paul’s focus, however, was not on the perishable container but on its priceless contents – God’s power dwelling in us. Though we are weak, God uses us to spread His Good News, and gives us power to do His work. Knowing that the power is His, not ours, should keep us from pride and motivate us to keep daily contact with God, our power source. Our responsibility is to let people see God through us.
As believers, we will face trials. But we must remember that God controls trials and uses them to strengthen His people. God’s glory is manifested through broken vessels, through people who endure troubles by relying on His power.
Paul reminds us that though we may think we are at the end of or rope, we are never at the end of our hope. Our perishable bodies are subject to sin and suffering, but God never abandons us. Because Christ has won the victory over death, we have eternal life.
All our risks, humiliations, and trials are opportunities for Christ to demonstrate His power and presence in and through us. We must ask ourselves, “Could I handle the suffering and opposition that Paul did?” The success syndrome is a great enemy of effective ministry. From an earthly perspective, Paul was not very successful. Like Paul, we must carry out our ministry, or disappointment threaten to rob you of the victory, remember that no one can destroy what God has accomplished through you.
For Paul, the death and resurrection of Jesus was a model for his ministry. Had Paul not been willing to risk death to bring the gospel to Corinth, the Corinthians would not have received eternal life.
Why do you think God Calls us “jars of clay”? What kind of picture is He seeking to plant in our minds?
Be Blessed and be a Blessing!