Nov. 18, 2020, 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
The author of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul, is writing to a group of believers in the city of Corinth. While there are a number of different topics that Paul addresses in speaking to those receiving his letter, one topic that he is particularly passionate about is valuing God’s goodness above anything that we could ever do.
While it’s great to be proud of our own endeavors, Paul recognized something that still happens today; instead of being grateful for our successes, we use our accomplishments as a metric for our own worth. Or, taking it a step further, we use that metric to devalue others, and put ourselves in a false position of authority. This had happened in people’s faith lives, as it had become a competition to who could be “holiest” in accordance with following a myriad of Old Testament laws.
Instead of worrying about what we can or can’t achieve, Paul wants us to see God’s love as something that we begin with, not something we earn. We recognize that God’s love is something that is holy and all-encompassing inside us – also know as “treasure in clay jars.”
Clay jars were known to be effective, but when they fell apart, they were impossible to repair. When we recognize that we’re starting with something holy, instead of trying to earn in it, Paul notes that we can overcome incredible hardships. We can be “struck down, but not despair,” as well as other antithetical pairs showing just how God can be with us in the hard times and lead us out of it.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like news we need to hear right now. There are plenty of reasons to feel struck down. There are plenty of reasons to worry, to feel lonely, or to have anxiety these days. This love Paul is writing about, however, seeks not to shame us for those feelings, but meet us in the midst of them. Because before we do anything to try to earn it, and after we demonstrate that we definitely don’t deserve it, God still loves us.
Questions for reflection:
- Where in your life are you trying to earn God’s love?
- What might change if you start from a place of being loved outside of your actions?