But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to 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 manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
— 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
This powerful passage in Today’s Treasure deserves “digging deeper” effort. We can’t unpack its beauty in a devotional, but this week, let’s pull back the curtain a bit on the supernatural grace and hope in this passage.
When Paul mentions “treasure in jars of clay” his audience immediately pictured Roman soldiers marching victoriously after a battle into the city of Rome, displaying the spoils of war. In their hands and wagons would be their plunder: gold, silver and jewels. This glittering, sparkling treasure was stored in “jars of clay.” The eyes of the people along the parade route would not be drawn to the dull container, but instead to the precious, sparkling treasure in the jars.
We might feel inadequate, even dull and mundane, ill equipped to offer help and hope to anyone. Paul clears up this misconception when he agrees the container is dull, most likely cracked, but if I am a child of God it contains the priceless gift of Jesus. As we fall more in love with Jesus, eyes of others are drawn to the sparkling, glimmering treasure of His love flowing through the cracks in our clay pots.
The night of our son’s death, I whispered these words, “Lord, I’m not going to pretend to trust You in this agony. I am a pastor’s wife and I know how to ‘put on the face’ of faith. I need to know Jesus really does live in me and He really is bringing beauty from the ashes of my life. I need to know everything I have taught and believed is true. If someone tells me they see Jesus in me, it will be because He is keeping the promise of His presence, not because I’m trying to ‘work up my faith’.”
The picture of Roman eyes being drawn to the priceless treasure shimmering through the cracks of a clay pot encouraged me to believe my greatest treasure, Jesus, would shine through the cracks of my broken heart. When He shines, eyes are drawn to Him, not my inadequacies. Jesus did not disappoint me.
This week we will focus on that incredible treasure of Jesus. We need to be reminded life-giving encouragement is not a to-do-list, but rather a lifestyle that flows from intimacy with our Savior.
Treasured by Him,
Read Chapter 7 in Treasures of Encouragement
Read 2 Corinthians 4, Take notes during your pastor’s message, watching for “love notes” from the Lord, designed to help turn your heart toward Jesus.