Devotional: ‘Jars of Clay’

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“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  (2 Corinthians 4:7)

Whenever a believer has to suffer, the first question that often comes to their mind is, “Why would the Lord allow this? What good could this possibly accomplish?” Perhaps it will not be until we are in heaven that we will fully understand all the reasons for our suffering.

The Apostle Paul knew well the struggles many Christians face. Consider how he described some of his own experiences as a believer- “hard pressed on every side”, “perplexed”, “persecuted”, and “struck down”.  Earlier in this same letter he listed other times of trouble- “in prison”, “flogged”, “exposed to death”, “lashes”, “beaten with rods”, “stoned”, “shipwrecked”, “hunger”, “thirst” and the list goes on and on. If we would take the time to consider each one of these tragic events very carefully, we would see that the Apostle Paul suffered immensely. But why? What good did it do for someone such as himself to be beaten and imprisoned?

Notice carefully again his opening statement – “…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” During the days of the Apostle Paul, most household utensils were made of clay. Because of the inferiority of the material used, many of these vessels would crack shortly after being made. Normally cracked pots were of little use; however, Paul tells us that these are the vessels God often chooses to display His glory. What’s more, God often highlights their inferiority by exposing them to hardship and difficulty. Why does God do this? God does this in order to cause the focus to be placed upon the treasure and not upon the container. The weakness of the container allows the wealth of the contents to shine through. “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Having realized this important truth, Paul then wrote these words –

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-19)

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