For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”
made his light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory
displayed in the face of Christ.
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 4:6-7
A while back I was called to serve on the Grand Jury. We were comprised of sixteen people from differing backgrounds, socioeconomic status, race and gender. No one knew what to expect. No one knew the person who was sitting next to them. And yet we were expected to act as one entity in determining whether the cases before us were to go to trial or not. We were all apprehensive at first, but as time progressed and we talked among ourselves we became more comfortable with each other. There was the orthodontist, the accountant, the nurse, the music promoter and the professor, as well as the Wal-Mart cashier, the nail tech, the receptionist, the housewife and the college student …many different people from all walks of life. What if I had decided to alienate myself because I didn’t know them? Obviously, I would never have gotten to know them. What if I had looked on the outward appearance and determined that they were just not someone I would like to get to know. I would have missed out on the comradery that we all developed. I made friends that will remain so and fond memories that will linger from now on. I have discovered that people are like unopened gifts. They come in all different sizes, colors and packaging. But like gifts, it’s really what’s inside that counts.
The following story is a perfect illustration. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and I hope the impression it leaves will be one you’ll never forget.
A man was exploring caves by the Seashore. In one of the caves he found a canvas bag with a bunch of hardened clay balls. It was like someone had rolled clay balls and left them out in the sun to bake. They didn’t look like much, but they intrigued the man, so he took the bag out of the cave with him. As he strolled along the beach, he would throw the clay balls one at a time out into the ocean as far as he could.
He thought little about it, until he dropped one of the clay balls and it cracked open on a rock. Inside was a beautiful, precious stone! Excited, the man started breaking open the remaining clay balls. Each contained a similar treasure. He found thousands of dollars’ worth of jewels in the 20 or so clay balls he had left. Then it struck him. He had been on the beach a long time. He had thrown maybe 50 or 60 of the clay balls with their hidden treasure into the ocean waves. Instead of thousands of dollars in treasure, he could have taken home tens of thousands, but he had just thrown it away! It’s like that with people. We look at someone, maybe even ourselves, and we see the external clay vessel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. It isn’t always beautiful or sparkling, so we discount it. We see that person as less important than someone more beautiful or stylish or well known or wealthy. But we have not taken the time to find the treasure hidden inside that person. There is a treasure in each and every one of us. If we take the time to get to know that person, and if we ask God to show us that person the way He sees them, then the clay begins to peel away and the brilliant gem begins to shine forth. May we not come to the end of our lives and find out that we have thrown away a fortune in friendships because the gems were hidden in bits of clay. May we see the people in our world as God sees them.
…And everyone said, “Amen!”