Meditation Tuesday 17th November
with Rev Steven Ballard
MEDITATION TUESDAY 10TH NOVEMBER
“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water, at the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection , and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.” The old woman smiled, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?” “That’s because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”
The moral of this story: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. In this world, nothing goes to waste. You may think like the cracked pot that you are inefficient or useless in certain areas of your life, but somehow these flaws can turn out to be a blessing in disguise. This kind of makes you proud of being a cracked pot, doesn’t it? Look around and you will see all the lives that you have touched/watered. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them.
READ 2 CORINTHIANS 4:7
“We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”
Clay jars were insignificant in the ancient Near East. They were common, unimportant, temporary, and expendable. If a clay jar broke, you did not try to fix it. You just discarded it and replaced it. So Paul does not say that this treasure is contain in gold treasure boxes. The treasure of the gospel message is held in clay jars. This is how Paul pictures himself and it is how we must consider ourselves. Paul does not say that he is a unique work of art, worthy of the highest value. No, he is a clay jar among many clay jars, carrying the treasure of the gospel. Why is this the case?
Paul continues in verse 7: “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” The power is in the message, not the clay jar. God put the treasure of the gospel in human containers like Paul and the apostles with a purpose: to show that the treasure of the gospel has nothing to do with the jar.
The image of clay jars was used as a metaphor for human weakness in ancient writings, including the Qumran writings. Our flaws show the flawless gospel. We are the clay jars so that we are not stealing the glory away from God and his glorious gospel. We are to embrace our weaknesses so that the power of God can be made visible in our lives. Think about how God’s power is on its greatest display when it transforms a weak, selfish, fragile, broken person into a God-loving, Christ-believing, standing in the strength that God supplies Christian. Paul reminds us that the value is not us. We are just clay jars. The value is the gospel and we are valuable in relation to the task and value given to us by God. When we promote ourselves as anything more than a clay jar, we have taken away the attention from God, where the attention always belongs. We must never draw attention to ourselves but to God and the gospel.
REST IN THE SILENCE
Thoughts you might consider
Think of yourself as a clay jar with the treasure of Christ within
Consider the privilege and honour of having Christ’s Spirit and his Word within us.
Rejoice that God works through us despite our imperfections.
Consider times when his surpassing glory has shone through your clay jar.
Lord God, thank you that you are the potter
and we are the jars of clay,
imperfect, chipped and broken,
but carrying a precious treasure within:
the treasure of your love and hope.
Take our fragility and weaknesses,
and use us to share your good news with others,
that they might glimpse your power and glory. Amen