MESSAGE AND MESSENGERS
Lord, use this earthen vessel.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 4
Present Weakness and Resurrection Life
4 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
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 also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
a 2 Corinthians 4:6 Gen. 1:3
b 2 Corinthians 4:13 Psalm 116:10 (see Septuagint)
c 2 Corinthians 4:13 Or Spirit-given
New International Version (NIV)
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“Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand” (Jer. 18:6). Ask God to reshape you today as you engage with his Word.
We have a glorious gospel! As we saw yesterday, Moses reflected God’s glory imperfectly, but Christ is himself the all-glorious “light of the world” (John 8:12). Yet, many fail to see. Pray today for friends, family and colleagues who are unbelievers that God will take the “veil” from their eyes so they can turn from darkness to light and see the true path (3).
If the message is wonderful, what about the messengers? From verse 7 the dialogue takes a surprising turn, one which confounds human wisdom. The priceless treasure of the Gospel is carried around in simple clay pots. Humanly speaking, Paul is weak and unimpressive, and he has suffered much for the cause of Christ, but God’s power is at work through our weakness—a key theme of this letter. Why does God act in this way? First, Jesus himself went the way of the cross, and we should expect our own ministries to reflect his (10; cf. Mark 8:34,35). Second, if we are weak, then the life of Jesus will be seen more clearly in us. The litany of suffering Paul discloses should surely have crushed him. That it didn’t do so can be attributive only to God’s mighty power (7–11). As the message is proclaimed in weakness by suffering believers, God’s power is communicated not only by our lips but by our life as well.
As I write these words, I continue to mourn the death of my wife, Anne. As she battled cancer she exemplified the strength in weakness that Paul describes. Outwardly she was “wasting away” (16), yet the renewing power of God was seen ever more clearly as she reached out to others even in her last weeks. Do our own lives and ministries reflect this Gospel pattern?
If this is God’s pattern for ministry, are we willing to embrace it? Perhaps we do not know God’s power because we resist being clay jars. Take time to reflect.
Lord, we marvel over how You use death in us to work life in others. Teach us how to submit more and more to this death so that Your kingdom can advance.
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