6th September, 2020
JARS OF CLAY.
Text: 2 Cor 4:7-15
There is no better time for each of us called “human beings” to put ourselves in proper perspective no matter how high or how low we are placed. The Covid19 saga to some extent has shown us man’s wisdom and power at its best is nothing. The scripture had actually admonished us not to think too highly of ourselves. (Rom. 12:3) I also believe it is very wrong to think of yourself too lowly for that is all the devil and his agents need to molest you. If you don’t know who you are especially in Christ, the devil will prey on you.
On the other hand, some of us have become so powerful, so successful and so highly placed that we are thinking of ourselves too much than we are. A man of God recently said, He is the only one people can believe in to get to God. What an heresy? The truth is that all of us whatever height we have attained either physically or spiritually, be it in ministry, business, academics or finance, we are all “Jars of Clay.” Everyman is a jar of clay. Some days ago, I was reading 2 Corinthians 4:7 as background passage for my morning devotion using the New International Version and the phrase “Jars of Clay” which NKJV renders “earthen vessels” struck me.
Paul here admitted that we all should see ourselves as “Jars of Clay.” The Greek word “ ὀστρακίνοις/ostrakinois” rendered “earthen” means “that which is made of shells and burnt clay, probably because vessels were at first made of burnt shells.” The word “vessel” from the Greek word “σκεῦος/ skeuos” means any utensil or instrument, especially utensils of household furniture or hollow vessels for containing things. (Luk 8:16, Joh 19:29)Here, it is applied to the human body, as made of clay, and can be easily reduced to dust again.
In the Bible, earthen vessels (i.e. objects made from clay) are used as a metaphor for human weakness and powerlessness (Job 4:19, 10:9, 103:14–15). By speaking of himself as a “jar of clay”, Paul acknowledges his frailty and mortality. Therefore, his confidence was not rooted in himself, but in God’s sovereign power and sustaining grace. (vs.7–9), Jesus’ resurrection life (vS. 10–15) and an expectation of a future reward and eternal glory (vs. 16–18).
In addition Paul added, that this jar of clay though fragile and weak, yet carries an immeasurably precious treasure, the power of God. It is God’s wisdom to keep a great treasure in weak and fragile vessels. But this does not change the fact that the vessel is fragile and so we should constantly view ourselves. In this light, I shall discuss briefly five implications of our understanding of us as “Jars of Clay.”
BECAUSE WE ARE JARS OF CLAY….
1. HUMILITY IS A MUST – We must make every effort never to think of ourselves above what is meet, but always think soberly.
2. CLEANLINESS IS REQUIRED – The use of any vessel is dependent on its cleanliness. We must be clean vessels ready for the master’s use.
3. EMPTINESS IS NOT ALLOWED – We must not be empty vessels. A vessel of gold or silver is of considerable value when it is empty. But an earthen vessel, if empty is good for little, but is thrown among the lumber. Our importance lies in what we contain.
4. AVOID DASHING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER – We must take heed of dashing against one another for that will have fatal consequences to earthen vessels and also to the treasure that is deposited in us.
5. PERSEVERE IN DIFFICULTIES – We must bear reproach with patience and not think it strange or fret at it. A jar of clay can be used to carry hot water or even to prepare hot soup. We must see our peculiar hardships from God’s perspective and desire to persevere through them with God’s provision.
Though we are jars of clay, Paul states clearly that God made us so, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. Therefore, “we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (vv. 8–9) Hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down are the pressures the pot must bear. Not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned and not destroyed are the effects of the counteracting strength of Jesus in us.
The truth is that, it is God that is at work in us. God keeps us continually dependent upon himself. So we have nothing but what we have received, and we receive every necessary supply just when it is necessary. The good therefore that is done is so evidently from the power of God so that none can pretend to share the glory with him. The life of Jesus must therefore be manifested in us. We must therefore work by faith for all things are for our sakes and God’s grace shall cause thanksgiving to the glory of God. May our lives cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.(v.15) Amen. Shalom.