Chipped but Still Useful

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV

I’m willing to bet that in almost every house there are some soup bowls or dinner plates that have chips in them.  When we buy a set of dishes, they always look so nice!  The colors pop out when you look at them, the finish is shiny, and the ceramic looks great!  But then life happens.  You might hit one dish with a soup bowl, and a little chip comes off.  A child might carry a bowl to the kitchen sink, and accidentally chip it on kitchen counter.  That’s just the way it is. 

But for most of us, that doesn’t immediately mean that the dish or bowl has to be thrown out.  If the chip is really small and won’t cut our fingers or lips, we might still use the plate.  It’s slightly damaged, but still useful.

The apostle Paul compares himself and other proclaimers of the Gospel to jars of clay in the Bible verse at the top of this article.  He is saying that the important thing is not himself, but the Gospel message that he carries and speaks.  Notice what he says here:

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 NIV

The life of Paul and his missionary friends frequently was difficult.  They faced persecution, riots, and imprisonment.  Paul was stoned once and left for dead.  He experienced shipwreck and difficult legal battles.  More than this, Paul was open about the struggles he faced with temptation.  He admitted that the good things he wanted to, he failed to do, and the bad things he wanted to avoid, he sometimes ended up doing!  He was, to use his illustration, a jar of clay.

Maybe you feel a bit like a jar of clay after the last 1 ½ years.  Perhaps you feel that you have a few more chips, a few more imperfections, a few more mistakes.  But don’t forget the treasure that is inside you!  We may face persecution or hardship, we may make mistakes, and yes, we will all face death someday.  But inside every believer is faith in Jesus the Messiah, created by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel. 

So it’s not about us, it’s about the treasure within us.  The all-surpassing power of the forgiveness of sins and the life everlasting, the power of the Gospel, is from God and not from us.  So we can trust in Him completely, no matter what might happen to us.  We can rest assured of the forgiveness of our sins, for Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God.  And we can look forward to the resurrection, knowing that because Christ is risen, we will be raised as well.

As we share those words of hope with those around us, God makes us useful in His kingdom.  Despite the chips.