Jars of Clay: A Philosophy of Grace vs. Glory

During my theological training, I regularly heard challenges on the need to be exceptional for the glory of God. I was taught that excellence was a cardinal Christian virtue, which honestly did me a world of good. I heard that it is a sin to do less than your best. And so it is, though I suppose not every endeavor warrants the same intensity of effort. Still, it was good, as far as it went. 

But here’s the thing. When Scripture provides a picture of the Christian’s image before a watching world, it doesn’t use a fine vase or a striking window display. Rather, it says that we are “jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Yes, we have God’s life-giving light inside of us. But we’re not chandeliers, or even ornate candelabras; we’re just earthen jars. And the glory of light shines through not because we’re awesome, but because we’re weak…cracked, even. Our inadequacy may display God’s glory even more than our excellence. (See 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 for more of the same.)

Our inadequacy may display God’s glory even more than our excellence

Do your best, Christian, and do it as unto the Lord. Don’t settle for mediocrity. But embrace a philosophy of grace over a philosophy of glory. Be deeply grateful that God is honored through you, but in spite of you. After all, Scripture’s repeated blessing is “grace to you,” not glory. 

Grace! 

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