Paul was going through tough spell. Indeed, by the time Paul writes the Corinthians, he must have looked the sight – all those beatings, the times in jail, the stoning at Lystra, the broken bones, the bruised back (Acts 14:19). He was having one of those days, if not years. In fact, don’t let anyone tell you that the Bible presents a rose-tinted picture of the life of faith. It doesn’t. Here, in Paul’s case, he lists the hardships of a pastor and a preacher in such terms that he seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
It is why this passage of scripture is so fascinating, for Paul begins it by saying, “We do not lose heart” (4:1). Even after facing such hardship! We do not lose heart, and the reason why we don’t lose heart is because we have this treasure, this treasure in clay jars. This treasure, Paul says, is the gospel. More specifically, this treasure is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (v. 6). It is a mouthful, but it is this treasure that keeps us from throwing in the towel.
The clay jars part of the equation is Paul’s way of reminding us that we are creatures of God, made from the dust of the earth, fashioned from the hands of the potter. We are human, all too human; i.e., we are breakable, weak, disposable, but we carry what is eternal, everlasting, and life giving; and it is this treasure, the gospel, that matters most.
How may we share this treasure with others? How may we understand that our weaknesses is what God seeks to accept and redeem, giving us power? How may we give thanks for this gospel of life?
Pastor Andy Kinsey