“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” – 2 Corinthians 4:7
The Apostle Paul wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians to the church of Corinth because they were being influenced by the pagan culture that surrounded them instead of being the influencers (1 Corinthians 1:10-11, 5:1, 10:17). That said, Paul did not write out of hatred towards the Corinthians. He wrote to them to convict them. He wrote out of love and care for them (2 Corinthians 2:4).
Does this sound familiar? As modern-day Christians, we aren’t too far off from those Christians in Corinth. We are in a broken world where the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). That is why it is necessary for us to read his word and be filled with his truth. Paul was writing to the Christians in Corinth, but the message still applies to us today.
The Light of the Gospel
In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul talks about the light of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:1-6). He explains that, as Christians, we are to proclaim the light – that light being Jesus. Jesus allows us to see and know the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:6). We are to proclaim the light of Jesus in the darkness of this broken world.
In the Bible, when Paul says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay,” the treasure he is referencing is the light of the gospel, the message of Jesus and the glory of God reflected in Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:7).
Why a Jar of Clay?
A jar of clay is shaped and molded by a potter before being baked and refined in fire until the clay is hard. In ancient times, they were often used to hold things like sacred scrolls or valuable documents for safe keeping, but only temporarily.
We are referenced as a jar of clay for a few reasons. We, like jars of clay, have a temporary life here on earth, are easily broken and are all made uniquely.
Our Bodies Are Temporary
Jars of clay are just like our earthly bodies in the sense that they are temporary holding places for treasure. This life on earth is so short in comparison to the eternity awaiting us is heaven (James 4:14). We are not here to pursue worldly treasures, but to pursue godliness and share the treasure of the light of the gospel with others so that they may join us in eternity (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
We really aren’t here very long when you consider how long eternity is. Realizing that our bodies are a temporary place for the Spirit of God to dwell in should give a sense of urgency to share this said treasure we hold.
It is important that we realize how transient our lives are (2 Corinthians 4:17). By remembering this, our earthly suffering becomes lighter and we can recognize that our temporary suffering is preparing us for an eternity with God (2 Corinthians 4:18).
We Are Easily Broken
Like a jar of clay, we can easily be broken. Before a jar of clay is actually baked into a jar, it is just a piece of clay, easily bent and molded. But once complete, they are very easily broken, just like us. Physically and emotionally, this world corrupt by sin will bend us and try to break us (John 10:10).
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
This world will try to break us. We may bend, but by God’s strength we will not break or be shattered (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Without him though, we are easily broken by this world. We are referenced as a jar of clay to point out our weakness without God.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Sometimes God does allow us to crack though. Not because he doesn’t love us, but rather to show us and the world his love through us. You see, when there is light in a perfect jar it is dimmed. But once cracked, the light shines through even brighter. When we allow our cracks and weaknesses to be used for his glory, the light of the gospel can shine through us and his treasure can be seen in us even more.
We Are Uniquely Made
Society tells us all kinds of lies about who we are. This world says we need to look a certain way, act a certain way, be successful in this way or be a certain type of person. But the Bible is clear in explaining who we are in him. By calling us jars of clay, Paul makes it clear that we are all unique. We come in different shapes, sizes, colors and we even have different uses.
Jars of clay don’t all look the same. The potter, God, is an artist. He is purposeful in how he shapes, molds, details and designs every part of us. There is beauty in each jar of clay, even cracked ones. Ultimately, we are all used by God for his glory, but he can use us in different ways, just like a jar of clay.
You are a jar of clay. You hold treasure and were created to share that treasure with others. Be confident in who you are and how you have been created. Our God is an artist who made you with great purpose and beauty in mind.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.