Made to be Broken?

shiny jars
But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power
belongs to God and not to us.
2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

What we choose to do with our treasure says a lot; about us, but also about that thing we value above every other thing. In Mark 14:3-9 we see one woman’s attitude to her treasures, one earthly, and one divine. The earthly one was broken and poured out willingly to honour the other, and Jesus was grateful. This second of three brief posts on the theme of treasure in clay pots comes from R.V.G. Tasker…

Tasker writes… “…the wonder of the divine dispensation is that while an earthly treasure is usually preserved in a container of fitting dignity and beauty, the treasure of the gospel has been entrusted to men subject to the infirmities and limitations, the instability and insecurity of their finite condition. It is as though a most costly jewel were encased in an earthenware jar!

“Paul sees in this a supreme manifestation of the divine law that God’s strength is made perfect in human weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). This striking paradox makes it clear that the gospel is no product of human ingenuity, no clever discovery of the human intellect, no bright idea of some outstanding genius, but a revelation of the power of the sovereign God.

“He may choose learned or unlearned men to be ministers of this gospel, but though ‘chosen vessels’ (see Acts 9:15) they are all earthen vessels, in which ‘another’s jewel is kept, lamps of clay in which another’s light shines’ (Denney). 

From R. V. G. Tasker in Tyndale N. T. Commentary on 2 Corinthians.

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Feeling fragile?

John Piper
But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power
belongs to God and not to us.
2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV

Some days we wake up feeling fragile, aware of all our weaknesses, when we would prefer instead to wake up feeling strong, and fit, and full of energy to face the day ahead of us. But, even on those days, and whether we feel it or not, at any given moment, in Christ, by grace through faith alone, we may discover again that He is with us, in us, in all his strength, to work through us; the power is His, and the glory must be His as well. This first of three brief posts on the theme of treasure in clay pots comes from John Piper…

John Piper says…. The third reason you should use your gift for the good of others and the glory of God is that your ordinariness is no reason not to. Too many people say, ‘I’m so ordinary, so average and undistinguished. I can’t do anything significant.’ 2 Corinthians 4:7 shows that this argument is wrong and why. It says, ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels (or clay pots!) to show us that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.’ God’s concept of ministry is so different from the world’s concept. The world stresses the classy container, not the glory of God in human weakness.

“If there is one thing that we are coming to learn together in this church, it is that God’s purpose to get the glory in all things determines how we do all things. Here God’s purpose is to make sure that we see that the surpassing power belongs to him and not to us. How does he do it? He puts the treasure of his gifts and his gospel in clay pots like you and me. Your ordinariness is not a liability; it is an asset, if you really want God to get the glory.

“No one is too common, too weak, too shy, too inarticulate, too disabled to do what God wants you to do with your gift. … No matter what your condition, you have a gift, and the humble use of it in reliance on the Spirit will bring glory to God.

“It is no liability to be a clay pot in the kingdom of God.”

From John Piper in a sermon entitled ‘Calling All Clay Pots’ in Desiring God Resources

Big little saints?

Spurgeon

I know how to be brought low,
and I know how to abound.
In any and every circumstance,
I have learned the secret of facing
plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippian 4:12-13 ESV

 

Even a little faith, Jesus said, may move God to move mountains, so what may a little more faith do? All Great Ideas (there is a mountain that surely would be better over there!!) originate with our Great God, and He surprises the world (and sometimes maybe even the church) by planting the seeds of even His Greatest Ideas in the hearts and minds of even the least of His disciples (see 2 Corinthians 4:7 ‘we have this treasure in jars of clay…’). This second brief post on the theme of doing all things also comes from Charles Spurgeon…

Charles Spurgeon said…. “Our age is the age of littleness, because there is always a clamor to put down any gigantic idea. Everyone praises the man who has taken up the idea, and carried it out successfully; but at the first, he has none to stand by him. All the achievements in the world, both political and religious, at any time, have been begun by men who thought themselves called to perform them, and believed it possible that they could be accomplished.

“A parliament of wiseacres would sit upon any new idea—sit upon it, indeed—yes, until they had utterly destroyed it! They would sit as a coroner’s inquest, and if it were not dead, they would at least put it to death while they were deliberating.

“The man who shall ever do anything is the man who says, ‘This is a right thing; I am called to do it; I will do it. Now, then, stand up all of you—my friends or my foes, whichever you will—it is all the same; I have God to help me, and it must and shall be done.'”

From a sermon delivered on November 18th, 1860, by the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, at Exeter Hall, Strand.

Got the fidgets?

Lewis Letters Whatever value there is in introspection (I am sure there is some) it is probably least helpful when, embarrassed yet again by our sins, we begin sincerely to search ourselves for any signs of growth in discipleship at all; growth in Christ comes from looking at Him, not ourselves.

This third and final brief post on the theme of Christ in us also comes from C. S. Lewis.

From a letter written to Keith Manship: On the slow process of being more in Christ; and on doing one’s duty, especially the duty to enjoy. 13 September 1962

‘You state the problem very clearly, and the fact that you can do so really shows that you are very much on the right road. Many don’t even get so far. The whole problem of our life was neatly expressed by John the Baptist when he said ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ This you have realised. But you are expecting it to happen suddenly: and also expecting that you should be clearly aware when it does. But neither of these is usual. We are doing well enough if the slow process of being more in Christ and less in ourselves has made a decent beginning in a long life (it will be completed only in the next world). Nor can we observe it happening. All our reports on ourselves are unbelievable, even in worldly matters (no one really hears his own voice as others do, or sees his own face). Much more in spiritual matters. God sees us, and we don’t see ourselves. And by trying too hard to do so, we only get the fidgets and become either too complacent or too much the other way.

Your question what to do is already answered. Go on (as you apparently are going on) doing all your duties. And, in all lawful ways, go on enjoying all that can be enjoyed: your friends, your music, your books. Remember we are told to ‘rejoice’. Sometimes when you are wondering what God wants you to do, He really wants to give you something. As to your spiritual state, try my plan. I pray ‘Lord, show me just so much (neither more nor less) about myself as I need for doing thy will now.’

From The Collected Letters of C.S.Lewis, Volume III