Jars of Clay

Sam Petitfils

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”  II Corinthians 4:7

If we were allowed to design our own bodies, we probably would be thinking along the lines of “superman,” rather than “jars of clay.”  We would want to be the strongest, healthiest, best looking person out there.  Yet the Apostle Paul reminds us of a deeper truth: When we are full of ourselves we have little room for God.

God teaches us this lesson throughout our lifetime.  When we are weak, then we are strong.  Paul himself was beset with a certain “thorn in the flesh” that limited him to a certain degree.  Yet it was that very thorn that taught him to trust in God (2 Corinthians 12:7).  Paul’s “thorn” was one way God displayed His own sufficiency (verse 9), and showed us that apart from God, we have no strength at all.  Paul would finally conclude, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (verse 10).

Do not be surprised when God places you in situations where you must trust Him rather than yourself. Sometimes these lessons do not come easily, and the best of us tend to be slow to learning.  Yet what blessing accompanies the man or woman who gladly surrenders personal strength for God’s power.  Do you want to be used by God?  Then expect Him to place you in places where you’re forced to trust Him.  On the surface, these are not places we would like to go.  No one enjoys pain and uncertainty.  But remember that God cannot use the self-sufficient or self-reliant.  Instead He uses “jars of clay,” those who may seem brittle by this world’s standard, yet enjoy the presence and strength of the Lord.

I have heard from countless people that their spiritual life never really amounted to anything until they felt completely “broken.”  They never experienced trust, or dependency on God until that time.  But once they witnessed firsthand how God takes the “broken” vessels and remakes them into something beautiful, they began to realize that God must sometimes break us in order to use us.

James would urge us to let patience have its full effect (James 1:4, ESV).  Only then would we experience the maturity God desires for our lives.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God’s discipline is performed in love and produces much spiritual fruit (Hebrews 12:5-11).  

The next time you feel particularly weak by this world’s standards, rejoice mightily!  God is preparing you for some great work!


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