“Well, I doubt if this jar will ever become a collector’s item. It’s just a basic clay pot – breakable, replaceable and inexpensive. They don’t come any more basic and common than this. It’s not something you would ever place in a fine china display cabinet in the corner of a hi-end home. In fact, generally it is used to temporarily store garbage.”

But in the Apostle Paul’s metaphor – that’s precisely what makes the difference. Inside the jar of clay is not refuse or waste but rather, the most precious treasure ever – the Gospel of Jesus Christ!  A treasure of incomparable value!

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. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7

Paul was under attack. False teachers were seeking to undermine his work. They were questioning his character, challenging his credentials, and attacking his credibility. He speaks-up to assure the people of his day and all future generations that he himself was not the marvel. The real marvel was the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He himself was just a fragile jar of clay – breakable and replaceable.

Paul’s focus was not himself but the treasure he carried inside. Self-promotion was not a part of Paul’s daily pursuits. He walked humbly before the Lord and sensed his own fragility and lowliness, understanding that when his life of service was over, other jars of clay would be commissioned by the Spirit. The lives that were being changed and the local churches being planted in the Middle East were not the result of his own ingenuity, personal magnetism or ability but rather, the result of the power of God. He was nothing more than the instrument – a jar of clay.

The weakness of the fragile jar of clay was critical to the strength that was evident in Paul’s service for the Lord. The more appreciation we have of the inherent weakness of the clay jars, the greater our appreciation will be of the power of the Gospel and the God of glory.

Do you remember the story in Judges 7? Humanly speaking, Gideon’s crew of 300 was not really equipped to launch a major offensive against the enemy. Mere trumpets with lamps burning inside otherwise empty pitchers would hardly scare a raccoon away – not to mention an army. Humanly speaking – certain failure could be the only expected result. And yet, when the trumpets were sounded and the pitchers were broken, the dazzling light so startled the enemies – they fled resulting in instant victory. Where did such strength come from?

Was Paul thinking about this ancient story in a spiritual sense? When he was battered by the storms of the sea, blasted by false teachers, bombarded by his own sinful flesh, and burdened by his ‘thorn in the flesh’ – he was constantly reminded that, in and of himself, he was just a frail jar of clay. A broken pitcher that allows the light to shine out in all its brilliance. The attraction was not the broken vessel but the glory of the shining light in the murky darkness of this world.

Have you been too focused on the fragile and frail jar of clay lately?  What is the real wonder in your life?

Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.

Warmly in Christ
Peter Ramsay

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