The Word Among Us

November 2021 Issue

Holding Heavenly Riches in Clay Jars

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

By: Jeff Smith

Holding Heavenly Riches in Clay Jars: Dear Brothers and Sisters, by Jeff Smith

This month, we are going to learn from St. Paul what it means to be “earthen vessels” who carry the greatest treasure in the world: Christ himself (2 Corinthians 4:7). I have admired Paul for many years. I love the way he was a man of action. From the moment of his conversion, Paul embraced his new life completely. He changed his job, where he chose to live, and the people he befriended. His willingness to pour out his whole life for the Lord inspires me to want to live a more dedicated Christian life.

Paul was a pastor at heart. He devoted himself to caring for many of the early Christian communities. He suffered over the Galatians’ embrace of a “different gospel” that threatened to keep them in spiritual bondage. He hated seeing how the devil was causing divisions in Corinth. And he rejoiced over the Thessalonians’ fervent faith. Paul clearly loved building the Church, and we all have benefitted from his dedication.

I also love Paul’s dedication to unity. He planted churches the hard way, by proclaiming that Jews and Gentiles were now equal brothers and sisters in Christ. If his goal was to have to deal with as little conflict as possible, he chose the worst human strategy ever! But Paul knew that Jesus had broken down the dividing wall between Gentiles and Jews, and so he believed that Christians could overcome even the biggest obstacles to unity (Ephesians 2:11-13). He taught them to live in love, to forgive one another, to repent to one another, and to serve one another. He knew that the gospel he proclaimed would ring hollow without the witness of believers’ love for each other.

Of course, I deeply value the letters that Paul wrote to these early churches—letters that are now part of our Bible. Surely Paul had no idea he was writing Scripture! But his writings contain a wealth of revelation that has sustained us for two thousand years. No matter which letter you pray through, you’ll find insights about Jesus that will move you to bow down and worship him.

Sharing the Same Calling. Yet for all his accomplishments, St. Paul was just like you and me. He was simply an earthen vessel who held the same treasure that we hold: the Lord Jesus. You may not be St. Paul, but you are exactly the person God created you to be. Like Paul, you are God’s servant. Like Paul, you have an apostolic calling that no other person can fulfill. God has placed you wherever you are today so that you can bring him glory in your conversations, in your prayer, and in all your acts of love and service.

So let’s learn from St. Paul this month—not because he’s greater than we are, but because we have the same call as he did: to love Jesus with all of our hearts and minds and strength!

Jeff Smith
President, [email protected]