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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What do clay pots have to do with ministry?

by Nelson Roth
In II Corinthians chapter four, Paul teaches what Christian ministry is all about.

The word for ministry that he uses in verse one means, giving service to another with the idea that this service is being done because of the command of a superior.  So, Paul says it correctly when in verse five he says, “we don’t preach ourselves, but Christ as Lord, and ourselves as servants.”

  • How does the idea of being a servant and serving in this way settle with you?
Paul explains ministry further with the picture of a clay pot in verse seven.  When it comes to clay pots they can serve two purposes, to either be on display or to be functional because of the contents they carry inside.
  • Where do you think that Paul is headed with this illustration?
  • What point do you think he wants to make?
In verse six, he says that the content of our clay pot as Christians is, “his light shining in our hearts.”  Verse seven, “we have this treasure in jars of clay.”
  • How does being either a clay pot that is on display or being functional challenge you?
Paul now answers the question of what clay pots have to do with ministry.  In verse ten he says, “that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 

Next, he gives us three final points of encouragement for how Christ can be revealed through our lives in our ministry. 

  1. There will be difficult times, but we choose whether to react or respond.  Most reactions are knee-jerk and negative.  Responses are intentional steps in the right direction.

    “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." (:8-9)
  2. Some functional clay pots are broken to release their contents of value.  When that happens, we recognize where our strength comes from.  In being broken, we rely on Christ and He shines and is revealed in even greater ways.

    “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (:16)
  3. Our understanding of and vision for the future becomes crystal clear and we discover purpose in living life on mission like this.

    “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (:18)
  • How is God speaking to you about serving and ministry?
  • Which of Paul’s final three points is the most challenging for you?
  • What can you take away from the challenge of being a clay pot revealing Christ?
Ministry is one of the evidences of what Relevant Ministry calls - the "7 Marks of Spiritual Health".  RM Coaching helps you to assess all 7 Marks, providing an insightful check-up for personal spiritual health.  The RM team is writing about all 7 Marks, focusing on one topic a month with a new Blog article each week.  The topic this month is Ministry.  Please feel free to comment and join in on the conversation.

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RM’s vision - to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

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