Changing Your Picture

7But we have this treasure in clay pots, so that this overflowing power might clearly be from God and not from us. 8We are afflicted but not finished off, at a loss but not despondent, 9persecuted but not abandoned, thrown to the ground but not destroyed. 10We always carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Jesus may be revealed there also. — 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

There’s a simple fact of life in the world of men and women. Men tend to leave toilet seats up; women like them left down. Of such profound thoughts can good spiritual growth be made.

I’ve been married now for going on nine years, and I haven’t attained toilet seat perfection. I’m “going on toward perfection” but I have yet to attain. The way I think of it is that I am doing much better than I did when we were first married. Jody, on the other hand, still remembers largely the times I left the seat up.

Don’t blame her, and guys, don’t blame it on the fact that she’s a woman. That trick of memory is something that applies to all of us and it can rule over our vision. It filters our view of the universe. If we don’t take it in hand, it can be the thing that holds us back.

Here it is: We tend to remember the things that fit into the picture we already have. It’s very hard for me to cease being the guy who leaves the toilet seat up, because I established that picture in my wife’s mind first. Changing it requires more than getting a little better.

More importantly, you will remember the things about yourself and your situation that fit into the picture of yourself that you have. If you see yourself as a loser or a failure, your losses will continue to stick in your mind. If you think you’re mediocre or ordinary, you may never notice the extraordinary things about yourself. It’s hard to change your picture of yourself or of the folks around you. You just keep on confirming whatever you thought in the first place.

Yesterday I talked about pain and trouble, and how we have a reality of being clay pots, broken vessels, in and of ourselves, but this weakness allows Jesus to live in us and us in Jesus, and God gets the credit. You can use that picture in at least two ways. If your life has had a great deal of trouble in it, you can decide that you’re in your natural state, that your natural state is OK, and you’re going to see lots of evidence that you’re right.

But that’s not what you need to carry away from this verse. In the inexpensive, fragile clay pot is treasure, and the pot is the vessel got chose to contain the treasure. You need to change the picture by changing what you see. Are you afflicted (but strong in Christ) or are you finished off? Are you on the ground (from the world’s point of view) or are you actually destroyed? Are you persecuted (but faithful), or are you actually abandoned?

If you have built an image of yourself as afflicted, thrown down to the ground, and persecuted, then you will see lots of things to support that view. If, on the other hand, you have joined Christ in his death, then you will also be living with him his life, and you’re going to see lots of things to confirm that instead!

One aspect of becoming a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) is completely altering the picture into which you fit your observations of the world. If you do that, you will be amazed at how different things look!

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