If you’ve ever seen oxen yoked together…you’ll see one thing quickly…they must move together as one. The yoke forces them to move in the same direction, even if they don’t want to. This hitch they are joined together by suddenly becomes a burden as they both pull in opposite directions. When we are unequally yoked with unbelievers, it soon becomes a wrestling match of the wills…a match between light and darkness…truth and deceit…with no one winning.
When we’re going through a time of spiritual confusion…there are only two ways we can go. We can argue or chose to obey. We can spend our time trying to reason and debate our way out of the disconcertment in our life…or we can yield and submit ourselves to the authority and supremacy of God. You can’t think your way out of spiritual confusion…the only thing you can do is to obey what God places in front of you…step by step, day by day. For Christ demands unquestioning obedience from us, even when the way is shadowed.
As we learned from the Devotional yesterday, we have this great and wonderful treasure in jars of clay. But just like those breakable vessels, our mortal body can be stronger than we can imagine. You see, those clay jars withstood outside pressure and remained durable and lasting for hundreds of years…and so can we. This verse promises us that we can be troubled but not overwhelmed by it…confused but not to the point of hopelessness…harassed and bullied but never forsaken by our Heavenly Father. You are a jar of clay, but one tough, resilient, and tenacious jar – holding an unspeakable treasure within.
In Biblical times, clay jars were used to store items of importance. In Jeremiah 32:14-15, the Lord tells Jeremiah to buy his cousin’s field and take the documents and place them in a clay jar. “For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” This promise that they would return to their homeland would take 70 years of exile in Babylon before it would come about…but these important documents would be kept safe until then…safe within a fragile clay jar. And if you’re a Believer, you have the great power and Almighty energy of God within your clay jar…your body, placed there by God for safe-keeping.
It’s been amazing to watch the immense fields of corn and soybeans growing around us. The farmers have planted the greatest amount they can in order to have the most abundant harvest possible. Blessing others works the same way. If we are open-handed with our generosity…we ourselves will be blessed in return. For it says in Proverbs 11:25, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Sow generously into the Kingdom of God with open hands and an open heart…for a man reaps what he sows.
The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh…some chronic, painful condition that plagued him continually. And even though he had prayed three times for the Lord to take it – it remained. This was the same Paul who preformed extraordinary miracles, (Acts 19:11)…cast out evil spirits, (Acts 16:18)…and raised people from the dead, (Acts 20:10). But the prayers of his own healing went unanswered. Now many of us would react very badly if we had a great Ministry but were unable to be healed personally of some very visible disease. But Paul didn’t allow it to make him bitter, or doubt his worth. Rather, he looked at it from the viewpoint of his dependence on the Lord and his need for humility. For he writes in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength.” Paul gained his strength through his weakness…for God in His infinite wisdom gave Paul what he needed, not what he wanted.