“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”- 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
Once upon a time, a man was walking along the beach when he came upon a cave. As he explored the cave, he found a pile of muddy globules each about the size of a golf ball. They were rather lightweight and brownish in color.
Intrigued by his find, he gathered them in his shirt and continued his walk along the beach. As he walked, he decided to see how far he could throw the balls out into the ocean. Having thrown a dozen or so out to sea, he dropped one. The ball cracked open revealing a precious gemstone inside. Hurriedly cracking open the other balls, he discovered each and every one contained a precious gem of great value. He was ecstatic. However, the joy of his discovery was quickly dispelled by sorrow as he began to imagine the fortune he had unknowingly cast out into the sea.
As God’s children, Christ Jesus is our very life. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20 NIV) “Our body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Not only does God live in us who trust Him by faith, God has molded each and every one of us into a unique, one-of-a-kind masterpiece of His own design.
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God – You’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation! You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, You watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before You, the days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.” (Psalm 139:13-16 MSG)
If God loves us that much, why do many people feel so badly about themselves? I think it’s because most people do not know how much God loves them and how beautiful they are on the inside. The world lauds and praises the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
Jean Vanier said: “Love is to reveal the beauty of another to themselves.” Do you look for the gem inside of people, or do you inspect and criticize the clay that houses it? Why are we so critical of others? Could it be it is easier to pull people down to our level by fault-finding than to celebrate the masterpiece God has created in them? When you walk into a room of people, does your presence bring joy and peace, or anxiety and tension? I have a sign in my office that reads: “Everyone brings joy to this office. Some when they enter. And others when they leave.”
We talked in one of our small groups about the reason kids act obnoxiously. We came to the conclusion that kids (and we are all kids to God) need a safe place to live ... a place where they can be accepted and loved no matter how they act. We all need that kind of place, because we all act ugly at times. What makes God so great is He is our safe place where we can safely hide from the harshness of life.
God is the only one who loves us for nothing. He needs nothing from us, so He can love us without condition. If we truly understood that God loves us like that, we would have no need to point out one another’s flaws and weaknesses. Instead, we would be celebrating and pointing out one another’s unique beauty, gifts and abilities. God intends for us to be a blessing, not a threat.
As you interact with people this week, look past the body ... the clay vessel, if you will, and look for the hidden treasure within. Remind others of the blessing they are to you. Treat everyone you meet as a precious gem created in God’s image. Let’s make this world a better place by pulling out the best in one other. Don’t be like the man on the beach and throw away a fortune. Remember: We have this treasure in jars of clay. Priceless treasures are often found in cracked pots.
Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey at Lake Wylie, which now meets at Pine Grove Baptist Church. Visit thejourneyatlakewylie.com for more information.