Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 4
Today’s chapter challenges us to remember that what’s on the inside determines our responses and reactions to outside forces. Listen to Paul’s outside issues that he has been facing: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
Wow! There is a lot of outside stuff trying to take out Paul. There is affliction, perplexities, persecution, and people attempting to strike him down. I like the way The Living Bible paraphrases it:
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going.”
Based on these outside forces, Paul needs a miracle to stay alive. Pastor Rick Joyner once said, “Most Christians long to see miracles, but they don’t want to be put in a position where they will need one.”
How in the world can Paul survive this? How can the apostle live through verses 8 and 9? He can face 8 and 9 because of verse 7: “We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours” (TPT).
We have a silly container housing an awesome treasure. God is in us! The Holy Spirit dwelling in us is the treasure. Never mistake packaging as the treasure. We are the clay pot, the Styrofoam cup, the brown paper bag with something of infinite value in us.
We contain it but we are not it. We are not the source, just the delivery system. Because of the treasure, no matter what we face, the treasure on the inside makes it possible to handle whatever happens on the outside.
Whenever there is something valuable, we put it in a museum behind indestructible glass in a beautiful building. But when God has a treasure, where does He put it? He puts it in a common clay jar, because it isn’t about the jar but about the treasure in the jar.
If you didn’t do this in high-school science class, you can Youtube it. If you take a paper cup and put it over a hot flame, what happens? The cup burns up. But (and here is where it gets really cool and very much 2 Corinthians 4:7-ish) if you put water in a paper cup and put it over the same fire, the cup will not burn. Did you get that? The cup with the water in it does not burn up. Why? Because what is in the cup changes the dynamics of the cup.
Scientifically speaking, the water can only reach a temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit before it turns to steam. Since the water is in constant contact with the paper cup, the paper cannot get any hotter than 212 degrees. However, in order for the cup itself to burn, it must reach a kindling point, which happens to be higher than 212 degrees. The water maintains the temperature of the paper at a constant 212.
Or to make it really simple, the contents of the cup (the water) take on the heat and protect the outer cup from the heat. The treasure within disperses the heat.
When I am perplexed when I don’t know how to decide or when I have been embarrassed, I may think I am out of resources, but I’m not out of God. All the verses say “not.” Why is the not in these verses? All because we have a treasure in this earthen vessel.
We must never confuse the contents and the container. It is not that our vessel is some indestructible vessel; it is the treasure that changes our dynamic. We can’t make it in life without that treasure in us. The outside forces win.
What’s on the inside determines the power of the outside elements, and if God is on the inside, then “if God is ‘in me,’ then nothing can be against me.”