Summary: We are jars of clay through whom God comforts others.
Title: Jars of Caring
Text: II Corinthians 1:3-7
Thesis: We are “Jars of Clay” through whom God works.
We are stewards of the presence of God… we exist so that others may see the glory of God in us and working through us.
We are also stewards of the God’s comfort. We exist to share from our own experiences with others who need to be comforted.
An elementary school boy stopped by the super market and asked the lady at the customer service department just inside the entrance where he could find a box of Duz… he said it was for washing his cat. The lady was quick to tell him that he shouldn’t wash his cat with Duz but he would not be deterred.
A couple of days later, he returned to the market on another errand, and when the lady at the customer service counter saw him she asked, “How did the cat washing go?” The boy replied, “Oh, he died.” The lady said, ‘Well son, I warned you not to wash your cat with Duz detergent.” “Naw,” the boy said, “He didn’t die from the Duz, it was the spin cycle that got him.”
I suspect that it is the spin cycle that gets most people. It is the spin cycle that leaves us utterly twisted into knots and wrung dry of our tears.
Our text today is about how God comforts us when we have been spun dry in the spin cycle and how we are then able to comfort others who have been for a bad spin as well.
The first thing our text tells us is that God is the ultimate source of all comfort.
1. God the Father is the ultimate source of comfort.
• All praise to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of every mercy and the God who comforts us. II Corinthians 1:3
The word comfort brings two images together. The first is the image of coming alongside someone. And in that coming alongside, we bring fortis or courage. We come alongside another person, to encourage and strengthen that person.
The Nile River is 4,175 miles long. It has two primary tributaries: The White Nile which originates deep in the Nyungwe Forrest in southern Rwanda and the Blue Nile which originates in Ethiopia. The waters come together and flow north until they reach a large delta in Egypt and empty into the Mediterranean Sea. (http://africanhistory.about.com/b/2006/05/26/the-ultimate-source-of-the-nile.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nile)
Everything has to have an origin. In a discussion of causality or causation or cause and effect we might cite Aristotle who said, “All causes of things are beginnings…” We say a cause is something that makes something happen and the effect is what happens as a result of the cause. In other words, be they rivers or philosophies or automobiles – everything has an original cause or a beginning.
The bible says that God is the God of all comfort and that God is the source of every mercy. All comfort that comes into our lives originates with God.
Comfort does not originate with Dr. Phil, Abigail Van Buren of the syndicated column Dear Abby or her daughter Jeanne Phillips, who now writes the column. Comfort does not originate with rhetoricians like Winston Churchill who stand to encourage a nation at war or the physician with a great bedside manner. Comfort does not originate with President Bill Clinton who says, “I feel your pain.” Comfort begins with God as it bubbles up from springs and melts from mountain tops and flows north and south and east and west, down through rivulets, creeks, streams, rivers, and deltas of people to us.
However, though it may flow to us, our text reminds us that the comfort of God also flows through us.
2. Caring and comfort is about us… and others.
• He comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others. II Corinthians 1:4a
In verse 4, we are introduced to another word that is translated afflictions or troubles. The word trouble means more than just a bump in the road, a snag, or a minor hardship. The word refers to something that comes into our lives that feels as though it will literally crush us to death.
A survey conducted by the Associated Press and MTV uncovered a surprising insight into youth culture. They found that 73% of young people between the ages of 13 and 24 were happiest when they were spending time with their family. Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed cited their mother as their idol and twenty-one percent cited their father as their idol. After spending time with their family, relationships with friends was the thing most likely to make children happy. (What Makes America’s Youth Happy? Knowledge Networks Inc., April 2007)