I find it curious that people willingly describe natural disasters such as floods, tornados, and forest fires as “acts of God” (manifestations of his power), but rarely mention God’s power during times of great personal and communal success. In this passage, Paul described God’s strategy to demonstrate his power through the lives of believers in Christ to redeem mankind. Predictably, his strategy is the opposite of our earthly pursuits. Instead of self-sufficiency, it is built on those who are weak and dependent on him.
- How have you seen God work through you in the lives of others to expand his kingdom?
READ THE WORD: 2 CORINTHIANS 4:7-18 (ESV)
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 7-15.)
Note: Paul begins this section with “this treasure,” described in the previous verse as the “light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ,” the gospel.
- List the weaknesses of the jar of clay (Paul’s body) and the ways God’s power appeared to him in verses 8-9.
- What prerequisite did Paul describe in verses 10 and 11 for the life of Jesus to be manifested in his body? What might this look like, in practical terms, in your life?
- What reasons and motives did Paul give in verses 13-14 for his ministry?
- What was Paul’s end goal (vs. 15)?
- Knowing that God turns weaknesses into strengths, what weaknesses do you have that, if confessed, God could use to build his kingdom?
RESPOND TO GOD
By describing himself as a common clay jar, Paul wanted the Corinthians to understand that it was God’s power (and not his own) that sustained him through his trials and afflictions as a minister of the gospel. The truth that God had raised Jesus and would raise Paul and other believers into his eternal presence gave needed hope as he faced opposition. Above all, Paul’s aim was to extend the grace of the gospel, resulting in believers giving joyous gratitude and glory to God. Knowing that God sustains us in our present suffering, and offers us the hope of being with him always, gives us reason to walk in victory and manifest Jesus’ joy, peace, and love to a world in need, even in the midst of trials.
- Share with God your gratitude for his son, his past provisions, and the sustaining power he will provide in the future.