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 ESV)
This passage has been my prayer this past month. I have been asking God to reveal to me what it really looks like to be a jar of clay. This concept is hard for me because I often want to think of myself more of a Yeti than a clay pot. I think what is even more incredible about this passage is how much it contradicts what culture is trying to sell us (especially us under 40). Much of the church as well as secular culture wants us to believe we are a golden chalice that everyone should admire and if we can just believe that were a golden chalice filled with a great destiny then we can become our true selves.
The reality that whether culture taught me this or not, my heart still wants to believe that this human vessel is really the treasure. As I read the passage I want to know what is “this treasure” and looking back in the previous verses we see that “this treasure” is the knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ . The treasure that we hold is the Gospel! It is the truth that God made himself known in the face of Jesus Christ. What a privilege it is that we are allowed to have this treasure in our lives as Christians.
Next, I wonder, why did Paul use “jars of clay” to describe us? To be honest I don’t have much interaction with clay pots and this analogy could confuse me to think that jars of clay means something really nice or handmade but if you research the context it reveals to you that Paul was writing to an ancient audience. In ancient times comparing something to a jar of clay was a way to show its weakness. Therefore using this analogy Paul is beginning an argument that he will flesh out for the next 11 verses. He is presenting a case to us that we are weak vessels that will be afflicted, persecuted, struck down but, not crushed, driven to despair, or forsaken.
This verse really is a thesis statement for his upcoming argument and he finishes it by saying that we do this to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not us. If you finish the analogy out and think of a jar of clay that is weak being cracked as it is abused throughout the years it will begin to reveal more and more the treasure that is inside which Paul is saying is the goal of all this suffering. Is that the knowledge of the Glory of God through the Face of Jesus Christ is the treasure and that we are allowed through suffering to display that more and more.
The reason this verse has been a staple in my prayer life the past month is because I find myself wanting to be the focus. I want people to talk about the vessel more than the treasure.I want to avoid situations where my weakness may show because I forget that those times are where the treasure shines the brightest. I have been asking God to continue to lead me in repentance of this. How would your life look if you saw yourself as a weak clay pot that can never be destroyed but can only be cracked more and more to show the priceless treasure inside? What if we really saw ourselves as weak vessels it would allow us to enjoy God’s power so much more!