Today's Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 3
Selected Biblical Text
1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant-not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life....
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate [reflect] the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:1-6, 17-18 NIV)
Reflecting and Thinking
Paul's first visit and ministry at Corinth had lasted eighteen months. After his departure, some began to question his message and motives. Doubts were being raised about his authenticity as an apostle and the depth of his relationship and concern for those in the church at Corinth. Given Paul's mention of the contrast between the old and new covenants in today's chapter, perhaps Paul's opponents were urging a return to some aspects of Judaism (as the Judaizing teachers in Galatia).
The climax toward which today's selected reading points is this: the Lord's glory, reflected in our lives, changes and transforms us so that the Lord receives even greater glory, in an ever-increasing upward spiritual spiral empowered by the Spirit. Paul guides his readers toward this conclusion in a series of smaller steps: (1) the evidence of changed lives in Corinth, (2) this evidence is not artificial or manufactured but is visible to all, (3) this is the result of Paul's ministry in Corinth, (4) the results are spiritual and not physical, (5) the changes have been wrought by God's power not Paul's, (6) the changes have come through the new covenant and the Spirit, (7) this is obvious because the new covenant is more glorious than the old -- any glory of the old was temporary and fading and was hidden or veiled from the people, and (8) the new covenant is one of openness and transparency in the Spirit and freedom. Therefore, in Christ we see and reflect and experience an ever-increasing glory!
How can our lives as Christians better reflect the glory of the Lord? What does it mean to you that our transformation into his image brings an ever-increasing glory? How it is true that this glory is from the Lord and not from us? Since our competence (as Paul's) is from God, what things is God competent to do in you and through you today? With God's competence, what things are outside your ability? Why do we sometimes not depend on God's competence in our daily lives? (You may want to think about temptation, sharing your faith, talking about Jesus, prayer, Christian fruits or graces, Bible reading, and other such activities, attributes and attitudes as you contemplate your answers to these questions.)
Dear God, give us greater confidence today as we live in awareness that our competence is from you and that our actions are not dependent on our power. Be with us as we seek to live glorious lives -- not in our own glory, but reflecting divine glory, and bringing greater and greater glory to Jesus and his reign, in Jesus' name and for the sake of his kingdom we pray, Amen.