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Jars of Clay

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

I heard a message recently on 2 Corinthians 4 and so, this past week, I started to meditate on that chapter. I read in verse 5 how Paul explained to the Corinthian church that he and his associates did not preach about themselves or their victories, like the false teachers did. Rather, they preached Jesus Christ. He was the focus of their message: His atoning death, His glorious resurrection, and His Lordship over all of creation. As I slowly read through the chapter, verse 6 jumped out at me. It says, “For God, who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Paul is paraphrasing from Genesis chapter one, when God created the heavens and the earth. Here Paul shows the consistency of God over the ages. Just like when he made light shine out of the darkness at creation, He made His light shine in our dark hearts, exposing our sin and bringing the light of the Gospel to us. So, what He did in His original creation He did again in His new creations – you and me.

But Paul goes on in verse 7 to say, “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” If you have something valuable, you want to keep it in a safe place. Rare coins or an original writing from a historical person are often kept in a safe deposit box, safe from fires or thieves. Or, in some cases, you may want to display something of value in a prominent place in your home so that others can enjoy it as well. A piece of art, a trophy or award, or perhaps a souvenir of a memorable event in your life may be displayed on top of your fireplace mantle or hung on your living room wall. But not many people today would store their valuables in clay pots. Clay is very brittle, making it not a safe place to store things. It is also unattractive – not something you want to showcase your valuables in.

Yet God has chosen to put his Treasure (the light of the Gospel) in our hearts (jars of clay) so that we can share it with others. And He did this – choosing broken, chipped, and cracked vessels – so that everyone would know this Glory is not from us, but from God. In this way Paul is reminding his readers that we alone are insufficient and filled with darkness, but God is all-sufficient for us and the true Light of the world. He is all we need.

You may be feeling down about yourself today. Perhaps you’ve not reached your goals in life. Maybe you feel like a failure. But remind yourself that God has chosen your heart to store His treasure. You are valuable to Him. He wants to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with you. He also wants to shine His light through you if you will let Him. When I feel defeated and feeling like a failure, I try to focus on this truth. So don’t be discouraged – God has put His glorious light in your clay jar!

“Why so downcast, o my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” – Psalm 42:5

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