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June 22

2 Corinthians 4:7-18

7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; 9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. 10 We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that Jesus’ life may also be displayed in our mortal flesh. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith in keeping with what is written, I believed, therefore I spoke, we also believe, and therefore speak. 14 For we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you. 15 Indeed, everything is for your benefit so that, as grace extends through more and more people, it may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:7-18

Clay Jars

by Andy Engberg
Brentwood Campus

The older I get, the more I realize the fragility of the human body. My body hurts in ways that as a child I never could have imagined. Needless to say, I am not a child anymore. The scientific and religious communities don’t always see eye to eye, but it seems like religion and science can agree on this one point: our bodies are fragile and temporary.

This is exactly what Paul is trying to tell us. If anyone could speak to the fragility of our bodies, it’s Paul! When he uses the metaphor “clay jars,” here was a man who had been stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, snake bit, incarcerated and who would ultimately be martyred. He says, “We are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.” If I had to guess, I’d say Paul had a few aches and pains of his own! Yet, his focus is not on the pain he may have felt, but rather on the treasure that is inside us. In spite of everything he had been through, Paul found solace in the fact that “the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus.”

Our bodies may be fragile and transient, but the Spirit is eternal and has extraordinary powers. The Eternal Spirit of the Living God is inside us, and His Spirit cannot be destroyed. Even though our bodies are weak, we hold a treasure of incomparable worth because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Paul worded this elegantly in verse 17 as “an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” If Paul’s journey is indicative of what it is like to follow Jesus (which it is), then we should be prepared for the hardships that come with it. The apostles understood this and were willing to stand for Jesus in spite of the violence and bloody persecution they often faced.

Do you love Jesus enough to sacrifice your own personal safety? What are you willing to sacrifice? Would you sacrifice your own comfort or convenience? How about social status? While the world might be at odds with or even hostile towards the gospel, we should not be discouraged. Paul remained steadfast in his zeal for the gospel despite everything he endured. Even under intense persecution, he did not give up. He stood in the face of bloodthirsty opposition while boldly proclaiming the gospel across the ancient world.

Our bodies are only temporary. The Spirit on the other hand will not break down even when our bodies are broken and failing. Romans 8:11 says, “The Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you." God’s spirit is alive in us, and because we have His Spirit living in us, we also have eternal life. It amazes me that the Almighty Creator of the universe has entrusted me with His Spirit. Not only is this deeply humbling, but it’s also a great source of motivation in my life.

I cannot think of any higher honor than being entrusted by God with His Spirit. We know that salvation cannot be earned, yet as believers we are compelled to live lives that honor God. As a Christian, I choose to honor God by aligning my purposes with His will. I choose to do this, not because I have to, but because I want to.

Praxis

  1. We have the Spirit of the Living God inside us. This is more valuable than anything our imaginations can conjure up. The way to show that we treasure this is by honoring God with our lives. This should be the most significant factor informing our decisions. We should constantly be asking ourselves, does this honor God? If the answer is no, don’t do it!
  2. Our bodies don’t last forever, but the decisions we make while we are still on this earth will impact our relationship with God in time and eternity. Say yes to the Lord!
  3. The Bible tells us that following Jesus means we will face hardship and persecution. Are you willing to sacrifice your own comfort or convenience in favor of honoring God?