2 Corinthians 4:1-7

Jars of Clay.

2 Corinthians 4:1-7

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. – 2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

Paul was anything but a braggart. He had plenty of credentials, a great education, spotless pedigree, and a sterling resume, but he didn’t put a lot of stock in those things. In fact, in his letter to the Philippian believers, Paul had this to say about all his accomplishments, “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done” (Philippians 3:7 NLT). Paul had a unique perspective when it came to his role and relative value regarding the work of the Kingdom of God. While others might want to brag about their importance and highlight their accomplishments for Christ, Paul was content just being used by God to spread the message of salvation. He was a tool in the hands of God. He was nothing more than a messenger of the Good News. He didn’t use coercion, flowery words, persuasive speech, trickery, deception, or showmanship to attract followers and impress men. He didn’t practice self-promotion or try to pad his reputation. “We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5 NLT). Paul had a singular message and that was Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He viewed himself as simply a conduit of that message. Paul’s life was nothing more than a lens through which the light of Jesus Christ shone out. He lived to magnify Christ and to let the glory of His Savior shine on those who lived in darkness just as he once had.

Paul saw himself as a fragile clay jar – a common, ordinary household jar made of unbaked clay. There was nothing about Paul’s life that made him any more valuable or worthy of God’s love and Christ’s salvation than anyone else. He was frail and fallible. He was unimpressive and undeserving of the grace and mercy that had been given to Him through Jesus Christ. And yet, he had received the light of Jesus Christ into his life. The glory and power of God resided in him. Paul never ceased to be amazed at the significance of this reality. He was constantly blown away that God had chosen to take up residence in his life and displayed His power through him. For Paul, it was never about his accomplishments or capabilities, but what God was doing through him. He knew that God was doing the work, not himself, so He had no problem giving God the credit.

It is not the value of the container that matters, but the contents. Paul told Timothy, “In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:20-21 NLT). The context of this statement had to do with cleansing ourselves of any godless behavior that would bring dishonor to God. Paul was encouraging Timothy to keep his “vessel” pure. He wanted Timothy to understand the importance of keeping himself pure and avoiding godless behavior. It is God’s presence in our lives that give us value and worth, not our “container.” It is His glory that must shine through us. Too often, we want to impress others with the value of our vessel. We worry way too much about what others think about us than who they see in us. It was John the Baptist who said of Jesus, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (John 3:30 NLT). That was the attitude of Paul, and that needs to increasingly become the attitude of every one of us as believers. We are common, ordinary clay jars containing the glory of God and allowing the light of Jesus Christ to shine through the cracks of our sin-fractured lives.

Father, it still amazes me that You chose to redeem me. I know that I bring nothing to the table that qualifies me for Your grace and mercy. I have no value or worth that merits the gift of Your Son. I am a fragile, fractured clay jar, but You have placed Your Spirit within me and are allowing Your glory and power to flow through me. That truly is amazing and humbling. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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