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Cheap Clay Jar

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There is a story about two men who were praying in the same place.  One, burdened by the weight of his own sinfulness, would not even look up as he prayed.  Instead, he fell to his knees and cried out in an anguished spirit, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

The other man was very religious, and he prayed like this:  “Lord, I thank you that I am not sinful like other men, that guy over there for instance.  I give money to the church, I fast every week, I follow all the rules.  Amen.”

The first man, we are told, walked away justified before God, but not the second.

I understand this story.  If I have a good attribute it is this.  I know I am nothing but a scoundrel desperate for grace and mercy.  I know that I am a cheap clay jar in which has been hidden a marvelous treasure.

13 Replies to “Cheap Clay Jar

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    You’re a lawyer Barry, You’re not cheap. Unscrupled maybe, but not cheap.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    What the sinner who is acutely aware of his sin readily understands, but the sinner, who does not think he is really a sinner (if he even admits that sin really exists), but who is under the delusion that he is controlling his sin does not readily understand, is that Jesus Christ had the full power and authority of heaven to relieve Himself of the horrid torment of the cross but instead chose, because of His great love for us, to endure it, in its entirety, willingly, so that he might completely overcome sin, hell and death, and all their horrors, on our behalf (since we were incapable) so that we may be reunited with him. Love is the only proper response on our part.

    Temple Veil – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDNHoijNO2I

    Heather Williams – Hallelujah – Lyrics
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX2uM0L3Y1A

    The Contradiction of the Cross
    “On the cross, our false dependencies are revealed. On the cross, our illusions are killed off. On the cross, our small self dies so that the true self, the God-given self, can emerge. On the cross, we give up the fantasy that we are in control, and the death of this fantasy is central to acceptance. The cross is, above all, a place of powerlessness. Here is the final proof that our own feeble powers can no more alter life’s trajectory than a magnet can pull down the moon. Here is the death of the ego, of the self that insists on being in charge, the self that continually tries to impose its own idea of order and righteousness on the world.
    The cross is a place of contradiction. For the powerlessness of the cross, if fully embraced, takes us to a place of power. This is the great mystery at the heart of the Christian faith, from Jesus to Martin Luther King Jr., the mystery of the power of powerlessness. As long as I am preoccupied with the marshaling of my own feeble powers, there will be no way for God’s power to flow through me. As long as I am getting in my own way, I cannot live in the power of God’s way.”
    – Parker Palmer, The Promise of Paradox, Pg 46-47
    http://www.findingrhythm.com/blog/?p=2183

    Verse and Music:

    Luke 7:44-47
    Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

    “Bless The Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts Official Music Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-vZlrBYLSU

  3. 3
    Bruce David says:

    Barry:

    I know that I am a cheap clay jar in which has been hidden a marvelous treasure.

    Au contraire, Barry. You are the hidden treasure. The cheap clay jar is not you.

  4. 4
    Blue_Savannah says:

    Right on, Mr Arrington! 🙂 The Lord lifts up the humble!

  5. 5
    Bruce David says:

    Humility consists of recognizing your own greatness (created in His image and likeness) while at the same time recognizing and acknowledging the Source of that greatness, which, indeed, is the Source of you, yourself.

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    This is why I find the truths in the Bible such a delight!

    He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
    -Micah 6:8 (NIV)

    No room for self-righteousness here!

    But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
    -2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)

    God also has demonstrated humility, justice, and mercy in the life, death, and resurrection of his son Jesus.

  7. 7
    tjguy says:

    A good reminder for us all. It brings to mind this word from God:

    “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” II Cor. 4:7

    Bruce is partially right. Our clay jar is just our temporary home in which our spirit lives. As created beings in God’s image, we all do have unique value.

    However, the treasure being referred to here is not our spirit but the gospel of Christ that has transformed our lives as well as the Spirit of Christ who in dwells all believers.

    The outer man is wasting away, but the inner man is being renewed day by day. God is good!

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Thanks BA, a good reminder.

  9. 9
    LarTanner says:

    From the outside, though once I counted myself a devout Jewish believer, the whole “theater of repentance” seems disingenuous. The rhetoric says “if I have a good attribute” but the message really means “I think I’m pretty awesome.”

    Like I said, it’s theater.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    OT: Here is every high school football coach’s dream for a freshman football player
    6-foot-1, 220-pound, 4.5 running, 33-inch vertical jumping Dylan Moses
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDf65ED83HY
    And yes he is already committed to a college,,, in 2017
    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/.....05441.html

  11. 11
    tjguy says:

    Lar says:

    From the outside, though once I counted myself a devout Jewish believer, the whole “theater of repentance” seems disingenuous. The rhetoric says “if I have a good attribute” but the message really means “I think I’m pretty awesome.”

    Like I said, it’s theater.

    Then Lar, as an ex-Jewish believer you should be familiar with these verses:

    I Saumel 16:7 “… For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

    Here is a description of repentance: Ps. 51:16-17
    “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
    17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

    So, Lar, you’ll be happy to know that what you call “theater” is not true repentance.

    You point out a problem that even Jesus pointed out and even this parable points out. Nothing done for show has any meaning to God. If repentance is not genuine and from the heart, then it is not repentance in God’s sight no matter how good a person may want to feel about it.

    But surely you aren’t suggesting that simply because some people only seem to repent for show that repentance is all theater?

    That’s like eating some of your wife’s hamburgers that happened to be burned and then refusing to eat anymore assuming they are all burned and no good.

    Surely you are not suggesting that a person should say I’m sorry and make no restitution for his wrong, are you?

    Just let God be the Judge. I think He can do a better job than either you or I.

  12. 12
    Querius says:

    LarTanner,

    From the outside, though once I counted myself a devout Jewish believer, the whole “theater of repentance” seems disingenuous.

    For me, it’s been surrendering my selfish desires, undeserved forgiveness, profound peace and joy even in tough circumstances, amazing wisdom from Torah, and the promise of resurrection to eternal life through Yeshua of Natzeret, the Messiah who came exactly at the time predicted by Daniel, who was indeed a prophet!

    Sure there are plenty of theatric hypocrites and other phonies, but why would I settle for fake when there’s so much more available to us all!

  13. 13
    Axel says:

    Suddenly noticed the marvelous invitatory antiphon of the Office for the Dead: ‘Come let worship the King, for who all men are alive.’

    Then I realised that watching all those NDE video-clips had brought the saying to life for me. So that, instead of only half envisaging them, and that perhaps as whispy wraiths, I was now visualising the heaven-bound departed as very much alive and corporeal, at least, in appearance; also musing that ancestors of mine from hundreds of years ago would be just as contemporaneously ‘super-alive’ (more alive than me), as my departed contemporary relatives and my friends. It just gives me a great feeling to repeat that antiphon.
    Also, now, when I think of Jesus’ words to the Sadducess,
    ‘He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!” I have a much fuller sense of what he was saying. It somehow sounded incomplete in some strange way, not making a lot of sense. Too much meaning perhaps in too few words.

    Also, in the past, I’ve felt a curious, comforting sense of the presence of long-departed relatives sort of looking over my shoulder, as I looked at one of our family trees (there must be thousands if not millions for each of us), and was struck how even media people and politicos, seemingly very hard-nosed/thick-skinned indeed, were often reduced to tears on TV programmes about genealogy, at the bitter struggles in the teeth of grinding poverty, for example, of great grandparents and great great grandparents. And I felt it quite possible, maybe even probable, that those ancestors were communing with them subliminally.

    Several years ago, I read in a newspaper book-review, that the generation of African Americans freed from enslavement and those more or less immediately after it, would see and talk to dead relatives pretty much all the time.

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