“But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 CEB
I have a longtime friend who is notorious for getting things for nothing. Over the decades I have known him he has won electronics, found bikes, and found hundreds of dollars (a little at a time). It seems like he is just always in the right place at the right time. I remember one time he was complaining because he didn’t have any money to go get something to eat with us. He literally took about ten steps and right in front of him on the ground was a twenty dollar bill. He just seemed to always be the one to be in the right place at the right time. Have you ever known someone like that? If you have, you probably experienced the other side to this story. What I mean is that my friend developed a certain cockiness about this unique ability of his. He began to brag about how this stuff always seemed to happen to him. To be honest - it was a little annoying at times.
What my friend experienced, in his attitude, is something that we all develop in certain ways. If we are good at something, or have a particular ability that is different from others, we can begin to think it is all about us. We start to think that there is something special about us and that we are the reason we are so special. Sometimes this is called arrogance, egotism, or pride. It is a common reaction and it is one people will be used to seeing. However, is it the right reaction? Is it the right reaction for someone who claims to follow Jesus Christ? I believe it is not the right reaction and is actually something for which we should keep watch in our life.
The Apostle Paul knew this. If anyone had the right to boast about themselves it was Paul. He tells us in Philippians, “If anyone else thinks he has reason to put confidence in the flesh, I have more …” (3:4). Paul was a devout follower of God and later Jesus. Besides his heritage, he had also been chosen by Jesus himself to spread the Gospel message to the Gentiles. Paul was the man. Yet, Paul tells of a thorn in his flesh that remained in order to humble him. Paul teaches that there is nothing we can boast of except our weakness, which declares God’s strength. This is why Paul wrote, “But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.” We have nothing to brag about … none of the awesome power we experience comes from us.
In the Christian song Not to Us composer Chris Tomlin writes, “Not to us, but to your name be the glory.” The thing is - clay pots were the least among the pot clan. Metal pots like gold, silver, and bronze were durable and could be washed out and cleaned. Wooden pots could be cleaned and salvaged as well. But in Scripture if a clay pot was defiled, the owner had to smash it and throw it away. Clay is delicate and porous and not easy to clean. So when Paul says we hold a treasure in clay pots, it is a huge contrast. We are the clay pots and the gospel is the treasure. We are delicate and hard to clean (we cannot clean ourselves) and we hold the greatest treasure the world has ever known (Jesus). What an immense privilege and honor. And yet - it is not from us! All of the treasure from start to finish is due to God’s awesome power. It is not from us!
This Sunday I will share the message "Broken Vessels." The message will help us consider the importance of the treasure we carry in our clay pots. In preparation for the message I would love for you to consider these lyrics from a Hillsong Worship song titled Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace):
You take our failure, You take our weakness
You set your treasure in jars of clay
So take this heart, Lord, I’ll be your vessel
The world to see Your life in me
I look forward to sharing this message with you Sunday. God is at work at St. Andrew’s and I can’t wait to see you in church!