Treasures in Jars of Clay is one of the most popular passages in the book of Corinthians. In here, we will be seeing the kind of life that Paul and other apostles suffered during their time, yet, they did not turn their backs to the one called them heavenward. Today, the secrets of ministry will be revealed to us.
During the early times, people used to put their earthly treasures in jars of clay. They do this so that it will not attract robbers. Another reason is to show humility and simplicity of life though the fact is, there is wealth behind a simple life.
Today’s sermon is all about having that kind of life. Having a life full of treasures, yet it was hidden in jars of clay. The jars of clay here refers to our frail bodies that can easily be inflicted with pain. But what gives value is not what is outside, but what is inside. The treasure is the gospel of Christ, the thing that is more valuable than all other things that one can ever have.
The bigger question is why? Why are the apostles able to survive all these persecutions? Why are they able to continue ministering despite of the threats that they have been receiving? Today, we will be answering the secrets of ministering to God. This sermon is taken from 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
The Secrets of Ministry
Secret No. 1: Dependency To God (v.7-12)
Pressure comes from all side. It’s easy to say no. It is easy to quit. But here they are, they were not crushed. Paul and his colleagues have probably faced all kinds of trials that a minister can ever have. They have experienced ridicules, facing false prophets, difficulty in finances, cold winter, imprisonment, escaping from a mob, etc.
The physical bodies of our dear apostles in this time are probably growing weaker being inflicted by all kinds of pains. But this doesn’t matter. The fact is, our body cannot really survive all these hardships if it was not from God. Paul made it clear in verse 7, “…to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
This simply shows that we need to be dependent on God’s power. Following Christ is never easy. We will suffer different kinds of persecutions. Yet, if we become dependent on God’s power, just like Paul and the other apostles, we will be able stand all the pressures that comes, all the hardships that we will be experiencing, and will not despair even if perplexed. And may we bring the assurance that God will never abandon us.
Verse 10, tells us that we will be carrying death around our body, so that life of Jesus will be revealed in our body. This doesn’t mean that we need to hurt ourselves, but if anyone hurt us or inflicted us of pain because of following Jesus, then it is important to stand still in it that Christ will be revealed through our bodies. No persecution should ever stop us in believing and worshipping God.
Secret No.2: Working in the Same Spirit of Faith (v.13-15)
In verse 13, Paul quoted a passage in Psalm 116:10, then he claimed that with that same spirit of faith, they also believe and therefore speak. Working in the same spirit is very important to each one of us especially in conducting a ministry. It is very important that we learn working together in the same spirit, in things that we believe.
One of the secrets of successful ministry is that when Christians start working together as one harmonious body. When we say harmonious, they all work together bearing only the thought of finishing the work together, and not leaving someone behind. Problems starts when someone in the ministry starts to think that; “They can already do that. I can therefore go ahead and do my personal work.”
Brethrens, commitment to work hand in hand for our ministries is a must. We certainly do understand the limitations of each other. But as much as possible, we need to try our best to work together harmoniously so that each ministry will be successful. We need each other sealing the bond of fellowship of fellow workers of Christ.
As Paul emphasized here in verse 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. “ It’s not only for one’s benefit, but for the benefit of the body of Christ that the grace of God be revealed to other people. We need to highlight the word “benefit” here. Working in the ministry of the Lord produces benefit and not just sacrifice.
Working in the same spirit lightens the load, but working alone makes the load heavier. Even before, God already made it clear that “it is not good for a man to be alone.” Though this passage is of different context, we can still learn something from here. God’s design is for us to have a company over the work that he gave us.
Secret No. 3 Being Renewed Every Day (v.16-18)
Paul knew what they are doing. Paul knew where to put his eyes on. Yes, indeed, Paul recognizes that their bodies seem to be wasting away because of trials and persecution. But their focus is not on the things that can be seen, but to the things that are unseen.
In doing this, Paul and the other apostles were renewed day by day in their inner beings. And because of this, they don’t see any reason at all to quit what they are professing. They are deeply convinced that their work is not in vain.
Let us try to look at Paul’s positive view; “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” This is why I always suggest to you that we need to practice to be more optimistic because it brings more good than harm. Becoming optimistic in the ministry brings hope, but becoming pessimistic with it brings failure and weariness.
Paul knew where to focus. They focus on eternal things rather than the temporary. How about us who lives in our days? Where do we put our focus? Is it in the temporary that we can abandon God for our wealth, honor, family and fame?
I believe all these are just passing away. Ten years after your death, only few people will remember you. Another 20 years passed, I doubt if there is someone who will remember you. Only the heroes of faith have been remembered all these 2000 years. They are the one who have learned to focus on Christ.