I Corinthians 4:1, 5-15 (NIV) 4Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 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,” 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.” Since we have that same spirit of 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.
Reflections (focusing on vs 5-7)
Oh how sad and discouraging it would often be for any congregation if their preacher were preaching themselves! Rather, it is the image of God, most fully seen in our Lord Jesus, imprinted on the deepest part of our beings that pastors call forth in ourselves and in those to whom we open the scriptures. It is God’s light, shining even in the midst of our darkness that illuminates and leads the way to the life that God dreams for us all.
It seems that coming to a point of faith, according to Paul, that we bear God’s image, drives us to speak! The realization of the part we as God’s image bearers can play in God’s plan and dreams coming true is quite a motivator!
- What comes to mind for you when you think of yourself as a jar of clay? Is it a positive thought or negative thought?
- What are the challenges we face as “jars of clay” while carrying a treasure as valuable as the light of Christ?
- How do you understand Paul’s assertion that… “ we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake” ?