Treasure in jars of clay

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”:

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


"What is this treasure?
"St. Paul explains this in the previous verse: ‘the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Cor. 4:6).

"And why should this knowledge be contained in jars of clay? St. Paul tells us with these words that God’s highest gifts can be applied in the simplest, most ordinary life, in our daily interactions with people, in the most unpretentious and ordinary circumstances.

"It sometimes seems to us that this treasure must be sought far away, above the earth, and we would like to leave the world, thinking to satisfy our spiritual thirst far from the world’s commotion. But in avoiding the difficulties and unavoidable struggles which we are subjected to, living among people, we distance ourselves from the grace which God is prepared to give us in these struggles, in all of life’s difficulties, in the interaction with people which often leads to petty conflicts.

“Let us remember that the ‘knowledge of the glory of God’ is contained in vessels of clay and that it will be revealed to us in our daily lives. Do we want to know the meaning of the Cross of Christ? Let us lift up our own cross with complete faith and carry it without complaint; every person encounters it, it often consists of daily petty problems and clashes which irritate us with their constant repetition. Perhaps this is the very cross, which we would gladly exchange for someone else’s, which will lead us to our treasure, to the ‘knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’.”

This meditation brings to mind what Lewis writes in “Mere Christianity” (IV, 8):

“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as out great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’. We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way – centered on money or pleasure or ambition – and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.”


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)