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Jars of Clay

2 Corinthians 4:5-10

5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 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.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

“For what we proclaim is not ourselves”

The people in the church at Corinth had a very physical way of looking at life. They could be very spiritually ‘short-sighted’, seeing things from a worldly prospective and missing the spiritual realties underneath. Just like us, they were impressed by big things. They were quick to judge the value of something, based on what the world says is good. They were dismissive of the little, the quiet, and the weak things.
For instance, they looked at Paul, and they saw someone who wasn’t very impressive. He wasn’t a person of wealth or power, the way he preached was very plain, and he seemed to constantly be in trouble. But Paul never tries to impress the Corinthians. He knows exactly who he is and that the only reason He can even preach the Gospel, is because of God’s grace (4:1). In fact, Paul is overjoyed that his call and ability to serve Christ is not dependent on his own power in the least.

“For God, who said, “Let light Shine out of darkness,”

But Paul’s weakness, and ours, does not in any way lessen the glory of the Gospel of Christ. In fact, our weakness magnifies just how glorious Jesus is! Think about the awe and mystery of God’s creation of light. One of the things that makes it so amazing, was that there was nothing like light until God created it! It wasn’t as if God needed a starting point to get going. He did not produce a flame from a smoldering ember. God looked into the complete and total darkness, and manifested light.
The light of the Gospel of Christ is the most glorious act of God that has ever taken place. And He needs no ember of goodness from us to produce this light. He looks into our dead and broken spirits, and invades us with the light of Christ. It is the gift of his mercy that this miracle can make a home in our hearts.

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay”

There is no use pretending that we are not weak. There is no use giving glory to others who think they are strong. We are all weak and fragile jars of clay. But, just like Paul, we have the opportunity to embrace the Gospel of Christ and our own weakness at the same time. In fact, it may be that the Gospel message will never shine in our lives, until we learn to glory in our weakness. We have to give up proving to other people how strong we can be, what beautiful perfect lives we have, and how worthy we are of their admiration. The jars of clay are not supposed to get the glory. The glory belongs to the treasure inside them.

“, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies”

It’s all about Him and His life. There is no life apart from Him. There is nothing we can dedicate ourselves to, apart from Him, that will not lead us to death. There is no foundation that will not crumble into dust, other than His Gospel. The treasure that we carry in our fragile tiny bodies is the reality of His life. If we truly know Him, then we are lights, surrounded by a world of death. All around us are people trusting and putting their faith in useless things. When we embrace our weakness, and refuse to trust in what the world says is important, it is a testimony to the truth of the Gospel.
Where is your heart today? Where is your hope? What is the purpose of your everyday? As followers of Christ, our lives should bring glory to Him. Know that in our weakness, it is the perfect opportunity to let Him shine. Trust Him enough not to put our hope in the things of the world. Seek to depend on Him in every way and for everything we need.

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