This week I read in Romans 9 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Near our old house, there’s a place which sells pottery.  When I drove by recently, I admired the large clay jars on display.  But as I recalled our life in Indonesia, that same type of jar is used to transport water, store food, and other mundane tasks.  I recall carrying a full jar of water – no easy task.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul tells us that the jars of clay are simple, common, and ordinary.  These jars are constructed from earth are designed for everyday use and can be easily broken.  The makeup of the jar doesn’t affect the role the jar has in life, but rather the Owner’s choice and use of the jar that gives it notoriety.

What is the meaning of being clay jars? — broken and aging.  We are recognizing more and more that we are residing in ordinary, temporary, easily-broken bodies.  Nonetheless we do not lose heart in that we recognize that we contain a treasure which is valuable to both ourselves and to those around us.  This treasure is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.  God’s light makes everything visible from His perspective.  In our weakness His power is perfected from within.  So we are able to appreciate our own commonness in view of His uniqueness.  This light has consequences in our lives as we allow it to work both through us and in us.  This light reveals our simple-ness, our emptiness.  It also infuses us with a sense of boldness, believing that the King of Kings may choose us to bring the holy knowledge of Himself to others through us.  And so we can marvel at His bringing good from the most wicked of circumstances.

Think about those jars.  How is it that God may use our commonness to allow others a glimpse of His uniqueness, His majesty?  This runs counter to everything the world teaches us, for society is not enamored with being normal, but noteworthy. However, only the working out of His plan and His molding of us into His image by whatever instrument he utilizes (arrest, misunderstandings, cancer, apathy of friends toward God) is important.  My plans and strategies may not bring my desired results; but that is of little concern.  For the things God chooses, including setting us aside in favor of another jar, result in the shaping and forming of us into a vessel that is useful to Him.  It is awesome to be chosen as a clay jar for the Master’s purposes.

PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.