Wednesday, November 20, 2013


in Jars of Clay

by Ali Cottis
2 Corinthians 4:7 

New Century Version (NCV)

We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure. This shows that the great power is from God, not from us.

Where do you hide a treasure?

Do you have a special place where you keep those special things? 

I know as a child I had a box my grandmother made me that had little special things in it.  But that box was specially built to carry something special and it is easily identifiable as something that can hold a treasure. 

What about hiding something we don't want to be found easily?

My husband was telling me last night about an Indiana Jones movie, the one about the Holy Grail, and when he gets to the place there are all these grand chalices, fancy ones, decorative ones, and ones with lots of jewels.  Then there is one that was supposedly indicative of the one Christ used to drink from was one that was wonky, ugly and not like any of the other grand ones.  It was created out of normal everyday clay.  It was basically a clay pot.  But, according to the movie, it had been part of this grand event called the last supper. 

In biblical times: it was a common practice to hide treasures in clay jars.  This was done because people didn't expect anything valuable would be kept in such a container.  You see, a clay pot is not overly that attractive as it has a more practical rather than decorative purpose but it is very easily broken.  The slightest bump can send it shattering into pieces, exposing what was inside.

I guess in today’s age: it would be like hiding money in a sock.  The sock is not overly attractive, especially if it is not a washed sock and is unclean and smell, no one is going to want to look in it…but inside it could be $1,000.00!

When we explore what the Word of God has to say about clay pots this is what we find.

My bible (NCV) says,  “We have this treasure from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure.  This shows that the great power is from God, not from us.

But it is interesting to see how other versions of our English translation say the same verse.  Some have a very interesting way of interpreting the same piece of scripture.

NIV: But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

MSG: If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.

AMP:  However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.

From this scripture there are a few things for us to learn about and discover.

To start with Paul, the writer talks about a treasure, a priceless treasure more precious than any other treasure.

What is this treasure?  This treasure is the knowledge of the glory of God as our redeemer, our saviour, our Christ. 

  1. This comes firstly as a revelation, symbolically of when we get saved.  In our own ways, we each have a personal and individual revelation of who God is, and what he is all about in the world we know.   
  2. Secondly it (the treasure) is a gospel, a message of good news that is the truth that we hold, the promise of a full pardon from sin and the consequence of sin, which is death.  This message of truth is what we have.  The knowledge that we have received that promise in our lives and now have the power of eternal life at work in us and through us. 

So what makes this treasure so valuable?  In the gospel's Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man may come to the father but through me.

Without this treasure we are as good as dead, sitting ducks if so to speak.  Just lapping up the unbelievable luxury that this world has to offer not even considering what is going to happen throughout the rest of it. Eternity is a bit of a long time to not consider it…yes? 

The second thing to look at with this scripture is the vessel it talks about.
When we look back to the different versions it is described as:
NCV  : Clay Jars
NIV   : Jars of Clay
AMP: [frail, human] vessels of earth
MSG : the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives  (I like this one).

We are made from the earth.  God formed us in his image out of the dust from the ground.  By using the word earthen, or clay is metaphorically speaking about us, human beings. What is interesting about this image of clay pots, earth vessels, or mere earthenware is its frailty.  It is frail in the sense that it is easily broken, so hiding a treasure in something so frail so breakable speaks of putting a lot of trust in that vessel that is holding that specific treasure.

So just as the eastern kings would store their gold, silver and jewels in earthen jars, Or plain box may hold a costly jewel,  some miry soil may yield an abundant crop.  A battered ship may carry a precious freight, or a scruffy as book may contain noble thoughts, why not too would God not place the gospel (this precious treasure) within the lives of those who would receive it?  Could it be so they could to become humble enough to share it with others.

In fact Christ himself was a peasant, a carpenter's son, yet he was the gift of God to man, the son of God most high. The apostles were fishermen, toll-takers, tent makers, yet they took that message of salvation out to mankind and shared it. The upper rooms where the early disciples met were not grand temples or big classy churches, but they were the settings of divine communion and Holy Spirit encounters. 

Jesus’ frail body, his infallible judgment, his imperfect character, his lowly and harassed condition, all contrasted with the preciousness of the gospel which was deposited in his heart and ministered by his labours. Within this humble image of frailty, also comes an amazing sense of security.  If the item you are holding dear to you is in something that could easily be destroyed because it is so frail what are you going to do?

We have this saying in our house “handle as eggs”.  Like when you are driving home from the supermarket and you have eggs in the shopping bags…you drive carefully or you walk carefully as to not bump them. One can get a bit “protective” so they are not cracked, broken thus becoming unusable.

God too, in his wisdom and grace has blessed and placed this precious treasure in us.  And because of this He will guard that treasure, ensure its safety and will also guard the vessel that holds it.  That means…that he is there for us, guarding us, allowing his Holy Spirit to prompt our minds to situations that may not be healthy for us, that may prevent the successful and safe passage of this treasure to the next recipient. That is why we see in the bible the different names and functions given to God as Protector, Healer, Guider, Guardian, Light to our path (so we can see and not be tripped up?),

Another part to consider: when looking at the function of the clay pot, it is used to carry stuff, liquid, oil, flour, water.  From this it is obvious that the treasure placer (God) saw that the clay pots (us) were to be a good way of transporting that treasure and taking it to all the places it needs to go.  Being able to share that treasure with our families, friends, neighbours, classmates, and other people (clay pots) that we come in contact with. The delight that one feels and the satisfaction of achievement (I suppose is one way to describe it) when you are able to sit down with someone, share your testimony and see them relate to it and get excited about what God could do for and in them is for me sometimes indescribable.  It is just so exciting. 

There are so many broken pots out there that God just want to scoop up all the pieces and put them back together again.  Almost like humpty dumpty, but in humpty dumpty the kings horses and the kings men couldn't put him back together. But God sees us as all broken vessels and by his amazing and loving grace he offers to place that treasure in us and as we get to know the treasure better he mends the parts of our pots and moulds us to be effective carriers of that treasure to where it needs to go. 

This brings us to the Why question?  

Why would God place that treasure in such a frail container.  Imagine the insurance premium of trying to transport your most valuable possessions thru a violent, war infested terrain. No but seriously why entrust such an important treasure to such a frail being. 

Because by doing so he shows how powerful he really is. And it reminds us of how humble and frail we are. Every day we are facing the same temptations that the rest of the world faces.  We have to choose to get up in the morning and treat the world nicely.  We have to choose whether or not we are going to steal music and movies of the internet.  We have to choose what we are going to find acceptable for our children to watch, see and do within modern technology.  We have to choose whether or not it is acceptable to go down to the tab to place a bet on a game or horse.   And that is just a scratch on the surface.  Daily we have to live with the consequence of death just around the corner.  

So the challenge here is this...

Do you want that treasure in you?  If you do not you can say this short prayer and open your world to adventures beyond anything you could imagine.  The treasure giver wants to do life with you. Take you if you are broken and glue you back together moulding you into what He has for you. So say this prayer out aloud and then go and talk to someone you know who also has a relationship with our Lord and Saviour.

"Dear father in heaven.  I understand that you are the master creator and you have created me for a grand purpose seeing your will fulfilled in my life.  

Lord I also understand that I am a sinner and without your treasure I am destined to death.  I am sorry for all the things I have done, all the things that are not of you or of what you have for me.  

Lord I invite you into my life to be with me, to get to know me and me you.  I believe you died on the cross so that I may have eternal life and Lord I accept your grace and forgiveness.  

I start my life anew with you as my guider, guardian, protector and healer and much more. 

Thank you for loving me for who I am and I look forward to growing in your love and in my knowledge of who you are and who I am in  you. .

Please help me find the courage to talk to someone I know who knows you too so that they can help me with any questions I may have

Do you have that treasure in you and need the courage to shine bright but humbly in the world around you?  Take this piece of scripture this week.  Commit it to God and your life this week.  It is after all His word and see how you can be that clay pot and be humble sharers of that treasure he has placed in you.

by Ali Cottis {}
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Reprinted by permission 20/11/2013 Original Source