Thursday, June 27, 2013

Treasure in Clay Jars

2Co 4:7-18  But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;  always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.  For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.  So death is at work in us, but life in you.  But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture--"I believed, and so I spoke"--we also believe, and so we speak,   because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.  Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.  So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

Here we see how Paul borrows a familiar image and applies it to our faith relationship with God. He speaks of “treasure in clay jars”. It was common for people to hide their money in non-descript clay jars. In this way they hoped that if robbers searched their homes for treasure, they would overlook the common pot in favour of the ornate.

Paul speaks of the treasure of God’s power being hidden in very ordinary human beings. But here is the twist to the image: this treasure is not placed in non-descript people so that it can be hidden! Instead it is placed in us so that “it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”     

If you feel inadequate to the task of serving Jesus, you are exactly the one that God needs. God supplies the strength. All that is required is a willing spirit.


Master, speak! Though least and lowest,
Let me not unheard depart;
Master, speak! For O, Thou knowest
All the yearning of my heart,
Knowest all its truest need:
Speak! and make me blest indeed.

Words: Fran­ces R. Hav­er­gal, Min­is­try of Song, 1869.


Fourth Sunday after Trinity
35 The Cost of Servanthood
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 219.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.


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