One day while walking
along the wharf in Panama City, Republic of Panama,
I saw a sign that read: "Old fishermen never die;
they just smell that way!" The sign reminds me of
carnal Christianity that always has the smell of
death about it. It stinks. It has a repulsive odor.
However, there is
something refreshing when a beautiful young woman
comes into a room wearing an elegant fragrant
perfume. The aroma does not over power you, but when
she leaves the sweet fragrance lingers on for a
while. You can smell that fragrance on another woman
a few days later and you are suddenly reminded of
the beautiful young lady. So it is with genuine
Christianity. Those who love the Lord Jesus emit a
That distinctive sweet
smell is the Spirit of God bearing His fruit in the
lives of believers. There are Spirit-filled
congregations all around the world that have that
distinctive fragrance of the presence of Christ
filling them. It is a rich bouquet of the fruit of
I recently conducted the
funeral of a lovely Christian whose walk with Christ
was a rich bouquet that produced His fragrance. I
thought what one word described this beautiful
saint? My mind immediately reflected on love-- joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.
The apostle Paul
illustrates the major theme of his letter, which is
that of the triumph of God's grace over our human
frailty. In spite of our set backs and difficulties
in life Paul bursts forth in praise because of the
triumph of the good news of Christ in the city of
Corinth. It is a sweet fragrance of God.
IS FOLLOWING THE LEADER (2 Corinthians 2:14)
The Apostle Paul pictures
Christ at the head of the victory procession, and we
are following Him in triumphant celebration as the
universal conqueror. He is the King of kings and
Lord of lords.
Christ is the head
of the victory procession (v. 14).
Paul wrote, "But thanks
be to God who always leads us in triumphal
procession in Christ and who makes known through us
the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him
in every place" (II Corinthians 2:14 NET).
Paul had in mind the
Roman Triumph. The picture is the triumphal entry of
a military hero into the city of Rome. In a Triumph
procession, the victorious generals marched in a
certain order through the streets of Rome to the
Capitol. First came the city magistrates, state
officials, followed by the Roman senate, and then
the trumpeters. Soldiers carrying their spoils from
the conquered land followed. Next pictures and
models of the conquered citadels and ships were
carried along in the parade. The white bull for the
sacrifice followed, and then the captive rulers,
their leaders and captured generals in chains who
would be executed before the day was over at the
sacrifice. Following them came the musicians and
priests swinging their censers with sweet-smelling
incense burning in them. All along the parade route
you could smell the sweet aroma of the spices people
were burning. To the conquered victims the incense
has the stench of death lingering all about them. To
the victorious army the fragrance has the sweet
aroma of victory. Finally, the conquering general
rode in a chariot drawn by four white horses. His
family and his army followed wearing their
decorations and shouting lo triumphe! Lo triumphe!
Christ is the universal
conqueror marching in triumph down through the
corridors of time throughout the conquered world. He
is in the lead, and we, His chosen warriors march
behind Him enjoying the benefits of His conquest.
Those who march along in the procession of Christ
are emitting everywhere about them the sweet
fragrance of the knowledge of Him.
"Thanks be to God, who
always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ .
. ." (v. 14a). God "leads us in triumph" (triambeuo)
means to "lead in a triumphal procession someone" as
a captive. Jesus Christ always causes us to triumph
in life. God has triumphed over the hostile
supernatural powers through Christ Jesus.
We who were God's former
enemies (Rom. 5:10) have been conquered by the
sovereign saving grace of God (Eph. 2:5), and taken
captive by Him and as His bondslaves are led and
displayed by Him before a watching world (v. 7).
Because we are "in
Christ," we are in vital union with Him, and
therefore are releasing everywhere we go the sweet
fragrance of Christ.
Moffatt translates (v.
14), "Wherever I go, thank God, He makes my life a
constant pageant of triumph in Christ." We are
trophies of the victorious grace of God.
We triumph only as we
abide in Christ.
What is it that I
smell ? (vv. 14-17)
Authentic Christianity is
always emitting a fragrance that is pleasing to God.
The fragrance results
from knowing Jesus Christ personally. The nature of
the triumph as a minister of grace is our vital
union with Christ. To be "in Christ," united to Him,
is to be "mystically and really in Him." The triumph
was Christ's, and because of our union with Him;
wherever we are we share in it with Him. All of
Paul's success was traced to Christ and his
relationship with Him. "In Christ" or "in Christ
Jesus" is the sphere in which we live, and move and
have our being. Our spiritual life is in direct
contact with Him. He lived his daily life in "union"
God "makes known through
us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of
Him in every place" (v. 14b NET). He uses you and me
to make known the fragrance of the knowledge of
Himself. The knowledge of the person and saving work
of Jesus Christ is spread abroad like a pervading
fragrance through believers wherever they are led in
The metaphor of fragrance
or perfume "suggests the penetrating strength of the
revelation and the delight which it brings to those
who receive it," writes Alfred Plummer. Everywhere
Paul went he shared the Gospel of Christ and the
effect was spiritual apprehension and recognition of
its saving truth. The fragrance is Christ.
"For we are a sweet aroma
of Christ to God among those who are being saved and
among those who are perishing; to the latter an odor
from death to death, to former a fragrance from life
to life. And who is adequate for these things?" (vv.
15, 16 NET).
The New Testament teaches
the priesthood of every believer. Every Christian is
a representative of Christ interceding on the behalf
of lost mankind. We are His priests. As we abide in
Christ we spread the sweet fragrance of His Gospel.
With sincerity, we preach Christ, and to those who
are being saved it is the smell of eternal life. The
Gospel of Jesus Christ brings a sweet fragrance to
those who are being saved. It has the aroma of
God uses us to spread the
sweet fragrance of the knowledge of Him in every
place. Christ filled lives are "like a lovely
"We are a sweet aroma"
(v. 15a) or fragrance. The gospel of grace bearing
its fruit in our lives is sweet fragrance to God.
In verse 14 the fragrance
is the knowledge of Christ, whereas in verse 15 it
is the apostle. The thought is essentially the same
because it is the gospel that Paul preached. "In
spreading the fragrance of it they are themselves
the fragrance of God," says Plummer. The human
vessel is identified with its sweet fragrance. When
we have been around Christ we begin to smell like
Him. People cannot help but sense the presence of
Christ in us. In Colossians Paul says, "Christ in
you the hope of glory."
insuppressible, pervasive influence, like the odor
of a precious perfume, goes forth from the lives of
those who have the grace of Christ in them. The
fragrance comes from Christ because He alone is the
source. We are the means of spreading the knowledge
of Christ. Lost sinners see the change in us and
they want to know what is that I smell about your
life. What makes you different from me? We can only
respond, it is Christ in me. We are the perfume
Christ has produced. We are filled with Him. Christ
Himself is the sweet aroma which exhales in our
character and work. The life of the believer
proceeds from God and the saving work of Christ. We
are the bearers of the fragrance of Christ.
However, for those who
reject Jesus Christ it is a stench of death because
judgment is at hand, and eternal separation from the
Lord God. "The one who believes in the Son has
eternal life; but he who rejects the Son will not
see life, but God’s wrath remains on him" (John 3:36
For those who listen to
the message and witness the changes in our lives, it
is a stench in their nostrils. Because of their
actions they perish in spite of the saving work of
Christ on the cross. Destruction is regarded as
their end unless spiritual regeneration takes place.
To them Christ is still dead and yields a stench of
death. To those who are being saved, Christ is alive
and He yields the sweet fragrance of eternal life.
To the unregenerate the
death of Christ is like a deadly noxious fume that
has a killing effect on them. However, to the
believer in Christ it is a fragrance that gives
eternal life. The preaching of the gospel brings
life to some who hear it and death to others (v.
Who is adequate for such
a ministry? None of us are capable in our strength.
Our adequacy comes from our abiding in Christ.
When we have been around
Christ we begin to smell like Him.
Are you wearing My Sin or
My Savior? Christ has an unmistakable fragrance, and
you can smell it on someone who is genuinely
Christ-like. Unfortunately, there is also a
fragrance that smells like the flesh and the aroma
Who is adequate for
such responsibilities? (vv. 16b-17)
Who is sufficient for
these responsibilities in preaching the gospel? What
kind of minister ought we to be who preach the
gospel of salvation by means of atoning sacrifice of
No one without the
sufficiency of Christ in him is competent to
minister the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is only as
we draw our sufficiency from God that we can
proclaim the full riches of God’s grace in Jesus
Christ. Paul's sufficiency is found in Christ alone.
Yet he balances that understanding with personal
Paul uses an unusual word
to describe those who are insincere in their
ministry of God's Word. They are corrupting the Word
of God by watering it down. "For we are not like so
many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God
for profit, but we are speaking in Christ before God
as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God"
(v. 17 NET). The word for "hucksters" comes from
kapelos meaning implying to adulterate, and is used
figuratively to corrupt by mixing water with wine in
order to cheat the customer. They get rid of a
product for a quick profit. In the context they
peddle or merchandise the Word of God for personal
profit. Christianity has been cheapened in our day
by commercialization and Madison Avenue marketing.
Thank God for the God called men whose desire is
Paul's concern was they
were peddling the Word of God for profit. They are
using deception and greed to peddle their product
Paul did not adulterate
the word of God by mixing it with Judaism or false
philosophy of the Hellenism or the Greek mystery
religions. He did not use it for any selfish purpose
or to manipulate people. His methods and motives
The primary force of the
word to "adulterate," "corrupt" or "peddle" here is
to seek cheap gain by adulteration by whatever means
to turn a profit. The false teachers have taken up
"apostleship" purely as a business, or means of
livelihood. How tragic when there are "people who
deal with God's message as if they were trafficking
in trivial things."
"We are speaking in
Christ," reminds us of our vital union in Christ.
Ministry must always be done in the power that flows
from a vital union with Christ as members of His
Body. Jesus said, "The one who remains in Me—and I
in him—bears much fruit" (John 15:56b NET). The only
way to minister is to abide in Him.
I have always tried to
clarify my motives and make it very clear that I
live to preach; I do not preach in order to make a
Could our thoughts of
Jesus Christ stand being brought into the full light
of day? Could our inner most motives stand being
dragged out into the full intense scrutiny of His
light? May He help us to clarify our attitudes and
motives of service that we may be full of His
fragrance. It comes from a pure heart.
We must proclaim His
message as sincere men sent from God, living in
vital union with Christ. We speak because the Master
has commissioned us. We speak with "sincerity,"
purity of motive, or transparent purity. Our
integrity is intact. Paul preaches because God had
laid a burden and a message on him.
At this point, Paul jumps
quickly to a different subject and doesn't return to
the sweet fragrance until 4:7. One of the
characteristics of Paul's writings are the extended
digressions. Suddenly he breaks off from his idea in
order to pursue an extension or amplification of his
thoughts. One great idea leads to another in an
outpouring of spiritual wealth. In chapter four he
gets back to his idea in chapter two and tells how
God produces this lovely fragrance in our lives. You
may be surprised at the process God uses.
GOD PUTS THE FRAGRANCE
IN CLAY POTS (2 CORINTHIANS 4:7-18)
The "glory of God" is
revealed in the face of Jesus Christ. All of God's
blessed, divine majesty and saving attributes are
the object of our perpetual adoration. Our knowledge
of the glorious God is manifest in Christ. "The only
true effulgence of the Divine glory is from the face
of Christ," writes Henry Alford. "In the face or the
person of Jesus Christ the glory of God shone
clearly, and the Divinity appeared without a veil,"
says Albert Barnes.
Furthermore, remember the
Spirit-filled Christian mirrors the glory of God in
Christ Jesus. "We all, with unveiled faces
reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being
transformed into the same image from one degree of
glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the
Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18 NET). Like an unveiled
face in a mirror we catch the bright light of His
glory and reflect it. In the inward sense of a deep
spiritual reality the believer has a clear view of
Jesus and his life will never be the same. "We all
with unveiled faces which remain unveiled." If we
keep looking into the face of Jesus we are being
transformed into the likeness of God in Christ. God
has chosen to put that precious treasure of the
glory of His saving grace in these old fragile,
cracked clay pots.
God uses old pots
of clay (v. 7).
God has chosen to put the
treasure of this precious fragrance in clay pots,
not in the fine china of man's making.
The "treasure" is what is
extremely valuable and expensive. The jars of clay
are made of cheap, fragile, clay pottery. The
valuable treasure is contained in weak valueless
Paul writes, "But we have
this treasure in clay jars, so that the
extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come
from us" (II Corinthians 4:7 NET). The treasure is
priceless. It comes from God.
God uses old clay pots to
contain His fragrance. The point Paul is making is
God's valuable treasure is contained in weak,
fragile, and valueless containers.
God doesn't use beautiful
flasks to house His fragrance. He has chosen to put
the treasure of His fragrance in clay pots. He uses
earthen vessels, not the fine china. He takes simple
clay pots and fills them with His glory. Fragile and
flawed, cracked and leaky clay pots are His choice
"This treasure" (thesauros)
(v. 7) is the "sweet fragrance of the knowledge of
Him" in 2:14. The treasure is the good news of God's
transforming grace. It consists of the rich truths
we are called to preach. Our most treasured
spiritual possession is the Word of God. God has
placed this saving Gospel and its glory in those who
have put their trust in Him.
God has chosen for His
glory to put "this treasure in clay jars," not in
beautiful self-made containers of human dignity and
aesthetic beauty. The treasure of the gospel has
been entrusted to men subject to the infirmities,
limitations, anxiety, unsteadiness and insecurity.
It is as though a most costly emerald or diamonds
were encased in a clay jar. God did not entrust it
to the cherubim and angels. He put it in clay pots!
The gospel is not the clever idea of human genius.
It did not evolve from some evolutionary process of
world religions. It is the revelation of the power
of the sovereign LORD God.
"Clay jars" (ostrakinos)
(v. 7) or clay pots are in themselves cheap, utterly
common, bound to break sooner later, personally
unimportant vessels. It is what is in them that
counts. They contain the message of the grace and
power of God; that is what gives them infinite
Why did God choose to use
clay pots? He uses clay pots so He alone can get the
glory. "In order that the excellency of the power
may be of God" (KJV). It becomes apparent that it
comes entirely from God alone, and not of any man.
It was God’s design to
use weak decaying and crumbling instruments, in
order that it might be seen that it was by the power
of God and not man. The apostles were altogether
insufficient of their own strength to accomplish the
grand purposes of God. How true this is of us, too.
The apostle Paul has in
mind the "exceeding greatness" (huperbole),
excess, abundance, "extra ordinary quality of
character" of God’s power. It is "transcendent"
power meaning "excess," "extraordinary (quality of
the) power." It is more than enough to accomplish
His purposes. Literally the word means, "throwing
beyond." It exceeds the ordinary human limits. The
power of the gospel of God overcomes and transcends
all our weaknesses. It goes beyond and far exceeds
anything we experience in our human limitations. It
is "the exceeding greatness" of this power that is
important to the apostle because there is nothing
with which to compare it. It is simply beyond
comparison. This supernatural power is manifestly
far beyond human strength. Keep in mind he is
talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore,
it is evident that the power belongs to God and does
not originate with man. God is the source of this
In verses eight and nine
Paul demonstrates from a constant personal
experience that this superabundance of power working
in the Christian is all of God. The transcending
power of God transforms every situation. It is the
activity of life that is constantly going on, like a
great conquest in which we are "more than
Note the progression of
thought in vv. 8-9: "We are experiencing trouble on
every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed,
but not driven to despair; we are persecuted, but
not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not
destroyed" (NET). This was hardly an
occasional experience for the apostle Paul; his life
was full of indignities and suffering for Christ.
Most of the time these
old pots have to be broken before they emit the
sweet fragrance of His grace. God does it through
the pressures that come in our lives.
God cracks the pots
In the midst of cracking
the pot the believer is sustained by God's power and
the prospect of future blessings in glory. These
present sufferings lead on to eternal glory. We have
confidence in view of the sure promise of eternal
Because God has placed
His treasure in earthen vessels, our personal
insufficiency and sufferings only serve to
demonstrate more clearly that this treasure is not
from us, but is the power of God. The life of Christ
is revealed in affliction. We are nothing. The whole
power is of God.
We stewards of the
treasure of God are to have none of the glory of the
work. Our one supreme passion should be that God
alone gets all the glory. It is His work, not ours.
It is not our task to dream up great things to do
for God and then ask Him to bless it. It is our job
to find out where He is at work and join Him in what
He is doing. The results are eternally different.
God fulfills the ministry by using weak, afflicted,
persecuted, and decaying vessels. These vessels that
contain His fragrance are worn out in His work.
Charles Hodge paraphrases
beautifully the idea Paul is communicating. "The
whole power is of God. . . I am so perplexed,
persecuted, downtrodden and exposed to death, as to
render it evident that a divine power is exercised
in my preservation and continued efficiency. My
continuing to live and labor with success is a proof
that Jesus lives."
Paul writes: "We are
troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are
perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not
forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (4:8-9),
"We are experiencing
trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are
perplexed, but not driven to despair; we are
persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down,
but not destroyed, always carrying around in our
body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus
may also be made visible in our body. For we who are
alive are constantly being handed over to death for
Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be
made visible in our mortal body" (4:8-11 NET).
When this pressuring
takes place through affliction we feel the
constraints of a confined space, and then the pain
that it causes. We are left at a loss and perplexed
by these pressures. In ancient writings it was used
to describe one who was ruined by his creditors and
was at his wits end.
There are times when that
pressure takes the form of persecution. You feel
like you are being hunted down like a wild animal.
There are times Paul says
it is like being deserted or abandoned in a time of
There are other times
when we feel like we have been thrown down with
force as when a wrestler throws his opponent to the
floor, or of striking someone down with a sword.
We are hard-pressed at
every point but not pinned down . . . persecuted by
men but never forsaken by God . . . at our wit's end
but never without hope . . . knocked down, but not
Pounds' paraphrase goes
like this: We possess this priceless treasure of the
fragrance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these old
fragile earthly clay pots. We do it so the exceeding
abundant greatness of the power of God may be
manifest, as coming from God and not from ourselves.
We are hard pressed on every side with troubles all
around us. We are not crushed, but we still have
breathing room. We are perplexed and bewildered, but
we are not despairing. We are hunted down by
persecutors, but not deserted and left behind by the
Lord. We are thrown down, but not fully destroyed.
A. W. Tozer said, "It is
doubtful God can bless any man greatly until He has
hurt him deeply."
I often hear people say,
"Life isn't fair. If that is Christianity, I don’t
want it. That's not what I want out of my life. I
want a trouble free life full of joy and happiness."
Welcome to reality. What
we wish for is not what life serves up. We do get
sick and people die in accidents. Our loved ones do
get robbed. I live where there are hurricanes. I
have spent much of my life where there are natural
calamities such as earthquakes, mudslides, flash
floods, and tornadoes. I have a daughter who lives
where there are blizzards.
The fact is if we live
very long on this earth we will be hurt. We don't
understand pain and suffering. But it is a reality
Why do good people get
hurt? Why do we die? Why does evil seem to triumph
over good? Those are age-old questions, but the fact
is this is the process God uses for our good, and
Can you learn to love and
forgive God when things don't turn out the way you
would like? That is the more difficult question in
We want to be beautiful
glazed and polished pots. We want to be painted,
displayed, admired and put on a safe shelf. But
that's not God's way of producing His precious
Paul continues in verse
ten, "always carrying around in our body the death
of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made
visible in our body" (NET).
The apostle was never
free from peril. He was constantly being exposed to
death as seen in his experiences in chapter eleven.
Paul and his companions were perpetually being
delivered to death for Christ's sake (2 Cor.
Everywhere Paul went he
received the same kind of treatment which Christ
Himself had received. There was always the constant
threat of being killed. Paul was "always carrying in
the body the death of Jesus." Paul's body bore the
scars and marks of his being exposed to the same
treatment as his Lord and Master was. The enemies of
Paul were always seeking his life. He was always
exposed to a violent death and was eventually
beheaded for the cause of Christ. Moreover, he was
always "suffering in a manner that was equivalent to
dying." This "body" is the same clay pot. Jesus
warned His followers that they too would suffer and
die (John 15:18-20).
The treasure of the
gospel was committed to believers, earthen vessels,
who are "pressed, persecuted, cast down, and beset
with deadly perils" in order that our preservation
and success should be a constant witness to the
world that Jesus lives. He exercises providential
care over His servants, and delivers us out of
God cracks your pot
through the pressures of life (vv. 11-12).
God's way of producing
His fragrance is to take the pot off the shelf,
break it, and pour out the fragrance. He releases
the sweet fragrance of His grace only by cracking
He does this through the
pressures that come in our lives.
How is the pot? Do you
feel squeezed in by the pressures of life? Do you
feel the pressure of sickness, disease, heartache or
disappointment? Perhaps some disaster or some
crushing experience has overwhelmed you? Perhaps
death or the shadow of death is your new pressure
Observe that verse eleven
is a commentary on verse ten. These two verses are
strictly parallel. "For we who are alive are
constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’
sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made
visible in our mortal body" (2 Cor. 4:11 NET).
Plummer translates, "we are ever a living prey."
Paul was in the continual danger of being handed
over. The original has "our mortal flesh" which is a
more emphatic and literal way of describing "our
body" in verse ten.
For Paul the process
meant, "experiencing trouble . . . perplexed . . .
persecuted . . . knocked down." That was the process
God used to release the fragrance in Paul's life.
What is the process
He is using in your life today?
God's power is perfected
in our weaknesses. When we die, He lives. When we
lose, He wins. When we are weak, He is strong. When
we are dependent, He is powerful. When we are
tempted, He is triumphant.
He does this so that only
He will get the glory. We cannot point at our
triumphs and say, how great I am. We can't say,
"Look what I have done." We can only point to Christ
and say, "I saw God do it!"
He produces His
fragrance in us.
A good example of this
process is also found in Isaiah. The prophet saw
what God was doing through the suffering of Israel
in his day. The Everlasting God "does not get tired
or weary." You can never wear Him out! "There is no
limit to His wisdom. He gives His strength to those
who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives
renewed energy" (Isaiah 40:28-29 NET). That is the
only qualification. To the weary, tired, weak and to
those who stumble and lack understanding He gives
His power and wisdom. Don't miss verse thirty-one.
"But those who wait for
the Lord’s help find renewed strength;
they rise up as if they
had eagles’ wings,
they run without growing
they walk without getting
The word used to
translate "wait" upon the LORD is insightful. The
Hebrew word qavah, (kaw-vaw') means to bind
together perhaps by twisting. The idea is to
collect, to gather together. The ancient weavers
would pick up a couple of pieces of flax and weave
the two together. They would then pick up another
and another and keep on weaving until they had made
a strong rope that would hold hundreds, even
thousands, of pounds of weight. Figuratively the
word pictures strength that comes from being
gathered together and looking patiently, tarrying,
waiting (for, on, upon) God to provide.
Perhaps I write to
someone who feels as if his rope is about to break.
Our loving Lord comes
along side, wraps Himself around us, and gives us
His strength when we feel tired and weary. God wraps
His strength around my stand of life to give me
strength in His character. He gives us cable-like
strength. We exchange our weakness for His strength.
We get His strength by waiting upon Him.
Let's go back to the
Apostle Paul's experience of producing the fragrance
of God's grace in this old clay pot.
"For even if I wish to
boast, I will not be a fool, for I would be telling
the truth, but I refrain from this so that no one
may regard me beyond what he sees in me or what he
hears from me, even because of the extraordinary
character of the revelations. Therefore, so that I
would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was
given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me – so
that I would not become arrogant. I asked the Lord
three times about this, that it would depart from
me. But he said to me, "My grace is enough for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness." So then,
I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so
that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore
I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with
troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the
sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am
strong" (2 Corinthians 12:6-10 NET).
The power of God comes to
full strength as we rely upon Him during our
weakness, insults, troubles, persecutions and
difficulties for Christ’s sake.
Our inadequacy is
God's sufficiency (4:12).
We are constantly being
delivered to the point of death so that God's
message will leak out. When people smell the
fragrance of God's grace in our lives, they suddenly
realize there is not anything significant about the
vessel--it is what's inside that counts. When people
see this death in us, it changes them. They suddenly
realize God can use them, too. "As a result, death
is at work in us, but life is at work in you" (2
Cor. 4:12 NET).
Death and life are
personified in this verse to stress the principle at
work in our lives. "When I am weak, then I am
strong" (v. 10).
Alan Redpath said: "When
God wants to do an impossible task He takes an
impossible man and crushes him."
WHAT ARE YOU DOING
WITH YOUR POT?
Don't hide the cracks in
the clay. That's the only way to let out the
fragrance. It is amazing how often God honors a
weak, broken piece of pottery. How seldom He ever
uses the fine china. The fact is fine china usually
does not like being used. It fears the idea of being
God honors the weak,
fragile cracked pots. We are honored when He takes
an old pot, cracks it and uses it for His glory.
What is that I smell?
What are you wearing? I walk through my congregation
every Sunday morning and I smell a sweet wholesome
fragrance. I think of saints who have gone before us
in terrible pain of suffering, and their lives have
been a sweet fragrance of God's grace.
How is the pot? Are you
huddling over it as you try to protect it? Have you
placed it on a shelf trying to guard it?
There is a better way.
Take it off the shelf, and let God crack it with the
every day pressures of life. Let the LORD God take
your life and use it to His glory His way.
One of the martyrs in
Ecuador, Jim Elliot, wrote, "He is no fool who gives
what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
If you need help in
becoming a Christian here is A Free Gift for You.
Corinthians 2:14–17; 4:7–18 Sweet Fragrance in
Old Clay Pots