Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)
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)
Our Sunday School teacher is recovering from some surgeries so I am filling in for her. I enjoy teaching. The feeling I get when I connect with the class and help them to understand and apply the lesson must be a little like what a drug addict feels. Even though I know that I have a gift for teaching, I still get apprehensive about whether I will be effective. Some weeks the lesson comes together easily, but others, I struggle to find a way to communicate. Last week’s lesson was one such time as I read 2 Corinthians 3, 4 and 5 over and over again seeking a way to pull all that really deep scripture together into one lesson. There are some of my favorite verses there, but, I couldn’t seem to find a thread to tie them all together. I felt neither confident nor competent to teach that lesson. It was no coincidence that in the midst of my turmoil, I got a call from a couple just returned from a mission trip asking to give their testimony in class. That gave me a springboard into a lesson about how we can be obedient to God’s call even when we feel neither confident nor competent because God gives us the ability to succeed when we obey. I ended my lesson with a story from Judges 7 about Gideon. Yes, that same Gideon who was afraid to do as God told him and kept setting out “fleeces” asking God to prove Himself by making the sheep skin either wet or dry. Eventually, Gideon figured out that he best do as he was told. That is how he ended up assembling a large group of warriors to fight the Midianites. Then, God told him to reduce the number because it would be easy for the Israelites to claim the victory was won through their own strength. From 32,000, God chose only 300 men to face a great army. Gideon gave the men trumpets and an empty jar with a lit torch hidden inside. When they reached the edge of the camp, Gideon blew his trumpet and broke the jar in his hands revealing the lit torch. The rest of the army followed, and the Midianites were so frightened that they ran away and began fighting among each other. The Israelites won the battle. I shared that in an interpretation of this story by scholar Vernon McGee, we learn what Paul meant from his illustration of treasure in jars of clay in 2 Corinthians. Like the lights hidden in the jars, we also have a treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. God gives us confidence and competence along with truth and hope. But, like Gideon’s army, we must have the courage to share it with a lost and dying world by breaking that jar open and letting our light shine and reflect God’s glory to all those around us.