Summary: Paul, Pt. 10
THE SPIRIT OF FAITH (2 CORINTHIANS 4:7-18)
The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready. As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, her host provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. “I love it,” she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mrs. Jones, you haven’t seen the room .... just wait.” “That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she replied. “Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged…it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it… It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away… just for this time in my life.”
It’s been said, “Believing is seeing,” not vice versa. In the midst of affliction (v 17) and troubles, Paul urges the believers in Corinthians to walk by faith and not by sight, not to give in to the triple threat of doubt, despair and disobedience.
Why are troubles not our greatest enemy? What resources have God given us to combat and overcome the troubles in life? Why is the absence of faith and not the presence of troubles a believer’s bigger problem?
Triumph is Yours in Christ to Claim
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Cor 4:7-12)
A little boy is telling his Grandma how “everything” is going wrong. School, family problems, severe health problems, etc. Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks her grandson if he would like a snack, which of course he does. “Here, have some cooking oil.”
“Yuck” says the boy.
“How about a couple raw eggs?”
“Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?”
“Grandma, those are all yucky!”
To which Grandma replies: “Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way. Many times we wonder why he would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!”
With the spirit of faith active in our lives (v 13), troubles are merely an opportunity for God’s presence, His power and provision to work in our lives.
It’s been said, “A clay pot sitting in the sun will always be a clay pot. It has to go through the white heat of the furnace to become porcelain.”
Jars of clay (v 7) are plenty but treasures are priceless. “Treasures” (v 7) is the Greek word “thesauros” (thesaurus), literally a deposit or storehouse of wealth. We are not doomed because of the abundance of God’s riches and resources at work and available to us. This same word describes the “treasures” the magi gave to baby Jesus (Matt 2:11), the kingdom of heaven that is likened to treasure hidden in a field ((Matt 13:44) and the treasures of Egypt Moses disregarded (Heb 11:26). The Bible tells us in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3). If you never experienced troubles, you’ll never experienced treasures.
“Jars of clay” is “earthen jars” in Greek. According to Wikipedia, clay exhibits plasticity when mixed with water in certain proportions. When dry, clay becomes firm and when fired in a kiln, permanent physical and chemical reactions occur which, amongst other changes, causes the clay to be converted into a ceramic material. Clay by itself has no use. It has to be placed in the fire or in an oven to become useful.