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God has decided to keep His treasures in very weak jars. That’s why we have our treasure in jars of clay—that is, ourselves—so the excellence of the power is God’s and never ours.

God’s power is always made perfect in our weaknesses; otherwise, we would certainly become arrogant.
For this reason we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. 1
This way we are always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 2
For we, who live by faith in Christ, are constantly facing death for Jesus' sake and to grow in His Grace.

This also happens so Jesus’ life is manifested in our mortal body, which can only experience a more excellent life if our most basic animality is always made relative.

The more we wish to be instruments of God—which also only happens by the work of Grace—, the more deeply we will have to experience the path of weakness so that we will be able to understand our own hearts.

That’s why whoever is seen as one who edifies others will experience in a deeper way the power of death so others can experience life.

One person’s sufferings are another person’s wisdom of Grace that will bring life to the latter.

The spirit of our faith is very simple, and is expressed as it is written: I believed, therefore I have spoken!

We also believed and therefore we speak!

We do so because we know the One who raised our Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us by Him—yes, all of us!

As heirs to all things although we now exist in weakness, we should be conscious that all things exist for our benefit.
Only people who are conscious of their own weakness can experience this privilege with gratitude and never with arrogance. And such consciousness does not boast of it as if it were a personal accomplishment. This Grace is on many.

It is this way in order that Grace, multiplied through the lives and gifts of many, makes gratitude plentiful among men, for God’s glory.

For this reason we never faint, even when we see ourselves—our body—decaying outwardly, because we know that there is a compensation: At the same rate, we are being renewed inwardly day after day.
Therefore, I just want to remind you that we are not children of animality.
We have an eternal treasure inhabiting our weakness.

Such awareness brings great peace as we know that our troubles in this world are light and momentary, but they are achieving for us, more and more abundantly, an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
So we should go on by faith, not fixing our eyes on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
Those things that our senses can perceive—what is seen—are temporary whereas the ones that are unseen are eternal.

Whoever has this faith-based conscience no longer complains, and does not think the jar is important either. After all, the jar is made of clay, taken from dust, and will eventually return to it. But the treasure, on the other hand, is eternal. The treasure already exists in us as a holy contradiction of Grace although their carriers are still exposed to weakness.

This is the faith that lets us celebrate Grace and Life in a healthy way, never boasting of what we own, because, in fact, we do not own the treasure; we just carry it.
Joyfully experiencing Grace with brother Paul.
From the original: “TESOUROS EM VASO DE BARRO”
Translated by Sara Machado – Massachusetts, USA
Revised by F. R. Castelo Branco | May 2007
First posted in Portuguese on September 30, 2003
1 1 Cor.4:8,9 (NASB)
2 1 Cor.4:10 (NASB)
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