Jars of clay
Social influencers are people who build a huge number of followers on social media. These followers engage closely with the influencer and sometimes appear to blindly follow their point of view on everything. Popularity, persuasion and often outward attractiveness are the keys to being a social influencer – not necessarily truth.
On the other hand, the Apostle Paul did not strive for popularity, nor did he rely on human persuasiveness. For him, following Jesus was paramount. When Paul saw that the believers in Corinth were being influenced by pagan culture and false teaching, he lovingly sought to bring them back to the truth: the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Why did Paul not lose heart as he ministered to the Corinthians (v 1)? How can this be an example to us?
- In verse 2, what has Paul renounced? What did he do instead?
Paul had been deeply hurt because the Corinthians were believing a whole lot of criticisms against him. However he did not abandon them, nor did he give up in the face of adversity. Using only one sentence (v 2) to defend himself, he continued to preach the gospel. The only approval he cared about was God’s approval (v 2b).
- Can you think of examples of how ‘the god of this age’ has blinded the minds of unbelievers around you (v 4)?
- Who is the only one who can take away the blindfold that is over the eyes of unbelievers (v 6)?
- What is the main content of the gospel that Paul preaches (v 5)?
As believers we are called to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. Jesus is the light of the world, the one who allows us to see and know the glory of God. We are to tell of his light, and earnestly pray that God will break through the darkness into the hearts and minds of those who are spiritually blind.
- List some words that describe a clay jar.
- What reason does Paul give for this treasure (described in verse 6) being in jars of clay (v 7)?
- What examples does Paul give in verses 8 and 9 to further illustrate this treasure being in jars of clay?
Jars of clay are not like containers of silver or gold, which are admired for their outward beauty. Jars of clay are moulded and shaped to be practical, everyday objects. It’s not the outside that’s important; it’s what’s inside a clay jar that matters. Paul recognised that his life was like a jar of clay – not much to look at, easily broken. But inside this humble exterior was a wonderful treasure – the gospel that displayed the all-surpassing power of God.
Something to think and pray about
Read Isaiah 53:1-5. Meditate on these words the prophet Isaiah wrote about the coming Messiah, Jesus