WE'RE JARS OF CLAY AND THAT'S OK
- Key Verse
- But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
- READ THE CHAPTER
Too often, we're drawn to the shiny vessel and that keeps us from seeing the contents. Big personalities and strong wills can get in the way of God's best for us. God in that vessel is the thing that makes an eternal difference.
ReflectionsShortly after I graduated from high school, my mom's sister had a debilitating stroke. Where there was once a strong, sometimes intimidating force, there now sat a woman in a wheelchair with speech and emotions more childlike than commanding. Both of these people answered to the name Aunt Helen, but there was no doubt a massive change had occurred. As an 18-year-old, and an immature one at that, I was pretty uncomfortable with this change. I wanted a change for the "better," for recovery and a return to the Aunt Helen we all knew and loved. But God had a different plan.
Aunt Helen spent the final third of her life with very little in the way of physical recovery. In fact, the crippling stroke kept her in a wheelchair. As other parts of her body started to fail, her physical care became even more challenging. What never failed was her love. According to 1 Corinthians 13:8, love never fails. Yep.
If there was one word for Aunt Helen before her stroke, it could have been "passionate." She sang loudly (and very well) in the Baptist church. She loved her Louisville Cardinals, and she adored Elvis. In fact, when she talked about "the King," she'd claim it was Jesus, but I was never too sure. On the other hand, she also got crosswise with Grandmother (her mom) from time to time, she'd be hard on my Uncle Jim, and she sometimes wished failure on the Kentucky Wildcats . . . and many of their fans, passionately.
She was passionate and strong-willed. But God had a different plan.
Sometimes, God uses terrible things like strokes and illnesses to bring about good things that transform our lives in ways we never could have accomplished on our own. For Aunt Helen, what remained after her stroke was all the love for her Cards without the venom for the Cats. She even cooled toward Elvis. Jesus was her King. When God called her home, I had the opportunity to mention 2 Corinthians 4:7. I was just an earthen vessel trying to share a treasure. And even though her earthen vessel had been compromised by the stroke, her dependence on Jesus gave Him all the glory.
Discussion Questions1. Why did Paul choose a clay pot as the metaphor for us? Why not a gold pitcher?
2. How often are you impressed by the state of other people's "earthen vessels"?
3. Do you think the treasure described is the same for everyone? Does this influence how you look at yourself and others?
WEEKLY FAMILY ACTIVITY
2 Corinthians 1-5 (July 9-13)
Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18.
• Verse 7 talks about our bodies being like fragile clay jars, what do you think this means?
• How do you see your body being fragile (both physically and spiritually)?
• Have you ever watched someone else experience verses 8 & 9; that is, go through really hard times, but not be "crushed"?
• What did you see in that person? What helped that person to continue to trust Jesus and show others He is faithful?
• What are ways that you might be "crushed" or "pressed"? (Think about school, work, sports, friends.)
• How can you trust the "treasure" inside of you to shine through even in the hard times?
Activity: Take time to write an encouraging letter to a person you have seen stay faithful and shine for Jesus even in hard times. And then write a letter to someone you know who is in the middle of hard times. Be sure to encourage them with Scripture, reminding them of the treasure they have and who is faithful. Now mail the letters to each of them.