Athlete, You Are a Jar of Clay
2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
As we get to the end of this series, let’s think for a few minutes about something we all hate to admit and probably try super hard to mask — weakness. It’s difficult to see how our weakness could be good for anyone (particularly us!), but isn’t it just like God to do the opposite of what we and the world expect.
When the apostle Paul, who outwardly might have appeared invincible to most, asked for his “thorn in the flesh” to be taken away, the Lord responded in a surprising way.
He said to Paul, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’” Paul responded, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul’s weakness was an opportunity for him to engage the grace God had available for him; grace that couldn’t be accessed apart from his awareness of need.
And though it likely came in many forms, the Lord highlighted His grace in the form of power.
This wasn’t power to push the world around and bring it under submission.
This power was divine enablement to faithfully endure in the mission while bombarded by the assaults of our enemy, Satan (see 2 Corinthians 12:7).
Weakness, not self-reliant strength, was and is the means of experiencing the power of Christ. The world witnesses the power of Christ in us when they see it compensating for our deficiency. Believe it or not, you and I have far more of it (weakness, that is) than either of us probably realizes.
This means that we need to grow in two important ways. The first is in our awareness of our weakness. This can be difficult for an athlete who has been trained to despise and diminish it with the greatest of determination. But it is vital to the Christian athlete that he/she come to terms with limitations of all kinds.
The second way we need to grow is related to an ability to acknowledge our weakness to others. In a day when image is everything, it can be difficult to risk tarnishing a public persona we constructed that seems nothing short of flawless (find countless illustrations of this on social media).
As much as we would like to think that the impression of having it all together would inspire others, it often does just the opposite. Some will respond with suspicion, others will dismiss us out of a belief that they just can’t relate to us.
The fact is, we’re all flawed, weak and in desperate need of spiritual power that can only be found in our Savior. The apostle Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
Our weakness is a priceless gift to a watching world because it is the very place where His sufficiency shines through.
Show and tell God’s grace in your life on the worst days, not just your best.
Your audience may not be big, your “followers” not numerous, but those who get to see and hear the true source of your hope and joy apart from your athletic performance, they will see through your fragile exterior to the priceless treasure God has embedded in your life.