It was just after midnight, after the changing of the guard, when Gideon and the one hundred men with him reached the outer edge of the Midianite camp. Suddenly, they blew the horns and broke their clay jars. Then all three groups blew their horns and broke their jars. They held the blazing torches in their left hands and the horns in their right hands and shouted, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!” - Judges 7:19-20
Christianity is full of paradoxes. We die to live, we are humbled to be exalted, the first shall be last, and the expendable are the valuable. Paradoxes!
Gideon and his men must have been the biggest underdogs in military history when they set out to do battle with the Midianites. Overwhelmingly outnumbered and underarmed, they had been whittled down to three hundred men, and their arsenal consisted of pots holding torches and a sword apiece. Thus equipped, they surrounded the camp of the Midianites in the dead of night. On command they smashed the clay jars to the ground. The silence was shattered; the night sky was flooded with light. The Midianites in panic began attacking one another, and when the survivors fled, Gideon’s army finished them off with their swords.
The apostle Paul was apparently referring to this event when he explained his approach to his work as an apostle. He explained that, God had commanded light to shine at Creation, just as he had shone the knowledge of Christ into Paul’s heart. “But,” he said, “this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies” (2 Cor. 4:7). As long as the clay jar of his physical body was intact, the light would not shine out. But if the jar cracks and breaks, then the light shines through. Paul saw himself as expendable in the service of the Master. He was not interested in painting the outside of his life or even fixing the cracks. His interest was in letting the glory of God shine through his humble life. If the way he handled affliction glorified God, he would welcome afflictions. If the way he responded to pressures demonstrated the power of God, then let the pressures continue.
Brave words indeed! It is the man who regards himself as expendable who is ultimately valuable. A man who will not stoop to care for a dirty child keeps his pride intact and his soul impoverished. But the man who spends his vacation money on the support of an orphan, or invests his television time at a rescue mission, or passes up a promotion so he can be involved in his church, may find some wear and tear on his finances and his leisure time. But he will know fullness of joy in his heart. It’s the broken pots that let the light shine—the intact ones simply sit prettily in their own darkness.
For Further Study: Judges 7:1-22
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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