Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Clay Jars or Crack Pots

Clay Jars or Crack Pots

"Fragile human beings who handle difficulty so differently that people are attracted to them."

That is my definition of the Biblical reference to jars of clay in the first century.

Those in palaces did not use clay jars for their valuables. Oh, you would have found them in the kitchen and the outhouse. For everything but the most ordinary functions, they used gold, silver, other metals, and well cured ceramics. Expensive liquids were not put into clay jars; they were stored in expensive, sturdy containers. In fact, it would be easy to be as impressed with the container as it was with the contents inside. "What an impressive pitcher you have," you might have said as the hostess poured your drink. Those were not ordinary clay pots presented to Jesus by the Magi, as they worshipped Him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. Those were expensive containers.

Clay jars in the first century were ordinary, common, easily broken, often discarded. They were used for carrying water and other ordinary functions, as trash containers, even as toilets. They would not have appeared as a main character in the cartoon version of "Beauty and the Beast." Bottom of the household totem pole, but functional.

So it's terribly humbling to realize that the Apostle Paul tells us we are clay pots. Harshly unflattering. It would not be so bad if he was talking about our lives B.C. (before Christ), but he's talking about after we have Christ in us. What is that about? Look at this.

2 Corinthians 4:4-12 (NIV) "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach 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 the glory of God 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 be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."

Here it is:

God puts the unbelievable, inconceivable, unthinkable, unimaginable, implausible treasure of the Universe "the very Presence of the Almighty God of the Universe" IN US! You'd think that would make us expensive containers. Precious contents go in valuable containers - that would make perfect human sense. But no.

He places this most precious treasure in "jars of clay." Why? So that others will see and experience the treasure of Christ rather than being impressed with us. Remember the earlier definition of clay jars? �Fragile human beings who handle difficulty so differently that people are attracted to them.�

What happens when a clay pot gets jostled around, bumped, passed from one person to another, or even cracked? The contents spill out. Or in the Apostle Paul's words, what happens when a fragile human being who is filled with Christ is 'hard pressed' perplexed'persecuted'struck down'faces death�' That person spills out the Presence of Christ on all in the area, filling the place with the aroma of Christ. What happens if it is not jostled? That treasure just sits there.

The jostling in our lives is not because God has abandoned us at all. It is because He believes in us as His treasure holders who spill His Presence.

Problem is that too often we whine when we're jostled, spilling out stuff that does not look, smell or taste like Christ because we've never learned or somehow forgotten that we are clay pots filled with Christ. Rather than cracked and leaking a treasure that attracts toward Heaven, we've simply become "crack pots."

What will it be for you?

Boldly, Herb


Rick Blumenberg said...

Hi Herb,

Thanks for sending your new blog address. I always enjoy the inspiration of your writing.

If you have time, check out my new blog. Mine is part inspirational, sometimes personal opinion, and is always life as I see it from our beautiful little spot on Tanner Creek in Southwest Michigan.

It can be found at

Blessings on your Ministry!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I read your thoughts on Clay Jars or Crack Pots.... and your comments strike home....I'm finishing up a series on 'What Would Jesus Do?' and look at my life from His eyes, not my own. I am but a clay pot that desires to be cracked and spilled out, that the treasure He has given me, is given to others. Thank you for sharing your inspirations. Nova from Phx AZ

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now. Keep it up!
And according to this article, I totally agree with your opinion, but only this time! :)

Anonymous said...


just signed up and wanted to say hello while I read through the posts

hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

imiosa said...

I think this particular blog post was moving! It was taught in my !ible study but - did not really understand it until now. The Bible really has a lot of information waiting to be accessed.
Thank you

Hannah Lyons said...

Hi Herb,

I was just reading this passage in 2 Corinthians this morning for my quiet time and went online to read some commentaries and later on stumbled across your blog. Thanks for sharing your insights.

The things that you said really strike home for me today. God is doing some interesting things in my life right now - refining, molding, growing and stretching me. It's such a wonderful reminder that when I'm hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, that I will not be crushed, in despair, abandoned, or destroyed. All of these things just give me the opportunity to spill out Jesus, to overflow with his joy, love and the fruits of the Spirit.

Thank you so much again for this reminder and explaining the passage in more understandable terms :)

God bless,

Anonymous said...

Wow! You spoke right into my heart and situation... and now I'm completely changed! Thank you for your words... and their timing.

Anonymous said...

OMG......... You talking about a right now word. My spirit is over joyed right now. You are truly lead by the spirit of God. I thank you for letting the LOrd use you to speak a word that helps me not to give up because things are not going the way I prefer them to go.

May the Lord richly bless with all spiritual blessing.

Alan said...

Hey herb

Your thoughts are truly inspirational to me. They have given me a complete new outlook of myself.

Unknown said...

Indeed, this is my verse for I am a Jar of Clay...

Unknown said...

Indeed I am a Jar of Clay...
God bless you.