Treasures in Clay Pots
By Benjamin H. Liles
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, New American Standard
Years ago, I heard that more had been found in the caves of Qumran. If you've never heard of the site at Qumran in the Middle East, not very far from Israel, a shepherd boy lost a sheep and went after it. He came across a cave thinking he'd find a sheep within. So he tossed a stone and soon heard the smashing of a pot. Within those pots were Israeli scrolls, some from the pages of Ezekiel and Isaiah. This can be considered a treasure in a clay pot. But that's not what Paul is talking about.
I start off this particular article that way because scripture, God's word--the Bible, tells us, "The precious people of Jerusalem were more valuable than gold, but now they are thought of as clay jars made by the hands of a potter" (Lamentations 4:2, Expanded). The things that we often describe as being broken may not be as broken as we. Paul says in the passage in 2 Corinthians 4, "We have troubles...We are confused...We are tormented...We are hurt," but then he quickly adds on, "carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body" (paraphrased until 2 Corinthians 4:10).
In other words this broken life we are leading is a result from sin in our lives; active sin at that. However, it was in our life at the moment of our birth. Paul is saying we will have these experiences, by our faith, our trust, in Jesus Christ as Messiah overrides those moments. It is done so that the glory of Christ might be revealed in our lives. What is this treasure we have in our temporal bodies, or as scripture declares as, "Jars of clay?" (2 Corinthians 4:7).
We read in the Old Testament, "Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah" (Isaiah 35:6). God was showing him that there would come a time that the spiritual hunger of His people would so supersede their sins that He would give them "rivers of living water" (John 7:38, New American Standard).
It stands within reason at this point that we can only have His Spirit within us, which He gives us freely, once we have done away with sin in our lives. I love how Paul puts it, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways. It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection, as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me" (1 Corinthians 13:11-12, Expanded).
When I say this I'm not putting down sin, its effects, or making light of the consequences thereof, which is death: we can liken our life before Jesus Christ as a child who enjoys sin for a time. But some of us will grow tired and choose to grow up, to want to mature and get out of that lifestyle. Only Jesus Christ can and will set us free from sin, death and hell, respectively. By accepting in faith what He did at the cross on our behalf, making us right with Him, we now have Him in our hearts. For as Jesus said, "But I tell you the truth, it is for your benefit that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (King James has Comforter) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you" (John 16:7, Berean Study).
And if it is truly the Spirit who lives within us, being the treasure we have within us, our "earthen vessels," then it is up to us to choose to live our life as Jesus would. It means putting off and staying away from those things which we once held dear, such as partying all night so we can be more in our jobs; as well as smoking it up to live a healthy and purified life. You can see what I'm saying. And it's also at this point I want to point out that once we surrender our lives to Him, we don't desire to keep on doing the wrong, which once was so prevalent in our lives. "Don't you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Holman Christian Standard).
If you allow God within your life, therefore putting off all sin and condemnation, you are now living under Him and His righteousness. You are telling Him, "Hey, I am so tired of that life and style I was living." You are much like that Prodigal who has realized that being in the filth and muck isn't where you want to be. You want to be with your Father, who gives much more good things than our earthly parents ever could. You want to be made clean, to be made whole, and subsequently made pure. It tells Him you're done with sin, its effects, and you choose this day to live as God desires you to. It's not an easy road, but you will have many brothers and sisters in Christ who will uphold you, pray for you, in good and bad, encouraging you to keep on in your faith. Just love and obey God more than you do your former life.
Father, we know You alone are holy. You are not some far off Being who only presides and judges harshly all mankind. You are a merciful and gracious God. What You give to all of us You oversee how we use those gifts You given to us. We have this treasure You have given us. To some You give more than others. I choose this day to live my life, giving all You have given me to Your benefit and glory so others are benefited. Your name should be known. Not my own. It's like David prayed to you, "You are not pleased by sacrifices, or I would give them. You don’t want burnt offerings. The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. God, you will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin" (Psalm 51:16-17, Expanded). I have nothing to give You, Lord, but my whole self. Not just bits and pieces, but my whole being of who I am. I offer this life I live to please You. Forgive my sins, and the sins of the people in my nation. Bless those who bless You, Lord. And also bless those who curse You as well. They know not what they do. I pray this in Jesus' name, in order that Your glory be revealed. Amen.