Bible Society of South Africa

Treasure in jars of clay – 14 December 2022

By Carina Francke

Bible text(s)

7Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. 8We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; 9there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9GNBOpen in Bible reader

The word of the Lord uses the clay metaphor to bring home lessons of truth and life in a practical way to his people (and to us). For instance, he sent the prophet Jeremiah as a mere observer to the potter’s house. Here, Jeremiah witnessed how easily a clay object can end up in failure, even in the hands of an expert potter. The reason? The clay the potter used was of inferior quality. The result? He altered the vessel into an object he saw fit. (Jeremiah 18:1-8)

What the potter creates depends on the quality of the clay. On the other hand, what God creates, depends on the people’s response or reaction to his involvement in their lives.

You see, the quality and efficiency of the clay has an important function in the final product of certain clay objects. In short, inferior clay quality, the object fails the standard. No wonder then that clay for certain objects has to be trampled upon, rolled and kneaded to prepare it for the new object that the potter has in mind. The question to us: as clay in God’s hands, am I willing for such an intense preparation to eventually become the object (person or instrument) God has in mind to use in his kingdom on earth?

In 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul wrote to every believer: But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

What a disillusion, but also powerful declaration to every believer! We are but fragile jars of dust/sand, but we carry a treasure! Why call the believer a jar of clay? It draws attention to our nothingness, our insignificance without Christ!

What exactly is this treasure and what is its value? The Bible has a surprising answer. It is the omnipresent Christ, the Anointed One, with life-giving revelation, Holy Spirit power in us. By our faith in Jesus Christ, who bought our freedom on the cross, we became partners of the Good News, the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:17); the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our guarantee; the Light of the Gospel and the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

As a believer, we face all kinds of dangers. Sometimes, the jar is oppressed, persecuted, ashamed and struck down. And even if it seems tattered, God steps in to preserve the jar. Symbolically, the fragility of the jar refers to Christ’s suffering and dying on behalf of us, God’s ransomed loved-ones

Prayer: Our heavenly Father, thank you for using powerless, breakable human jars as bearers of the gospel of Christ. Thank you for empowering us by the working of the Holy Spirit in and through us. You deserve all glory, honour and worship. Amen

Bible Society of South Africav.4.18.10
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