2 Cor 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for your, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Holding his own newborn baby seems to bring out the tenderness in a man. Something in the contrast between confident strength and helplessness touches my heart.
These verses from 2 Corinthians talk about a similar contrast — between our human frailty and God’s strength. And the paradox is that God entrusts so much to us, as weak as we are. As his Church we are his messengers, his hands and feet on the earth. But we fail so often. As Paul writes in Romans 7, we don’t do the good that we know to do, but we do the wrong that we know we’re not to do.
Paul had to write some pretty harsh words to the Corinthians, on more than one occasion. But he showed them hope, too. Even in the face of persecution, even with the burden of physical weakness, Paul found the strength and courage he needed in God. In fact, Paul saw how his own weakness glorified God.
It’s human nature to want to bask in the glory. If something comes easily to me, or if I receive praise for my accomplishments, it’s very easy to think I did it all by myself. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of a job well done, but I have to remember that my gifts and abilities are God-given and he deserves the glory. And there are many times when I know that by my own power, I just can’t get the job done. Then I can see how God takes care of the details and fills in all the gaps in my strength.
Sometimes the most beautiful pictures are displayed in simple frames — that way nothing distracts from the beauty of the painting. I like black and white photos for the same reason — they seem to show the essence of the subject without the dazzle of bright colors. So it is with God’s glory. We are jars of clay, humble earthen vessels, but the treasure of God’s glory is at work in us. There should be no confusion about whose glory it is.