As I read the Bible, sometimes chapter breakdowns and even the inserted, man-made “titles” along the way can really throw me off. It’s amazing how quick my mind can allow those “breaks” to isolate what is being said from what was said and then stop short of what will be said that further explains what I just read! As we study Scripture, context is key and confusion springs up when we don’t keep that in mind.
I came across this reality when I was reading 2 Corinthians 3-4, and I am so thankful the Lord kept me from being a lazy student of the Word and reminded me to slow down and read the full context. 2 Corinthians 4:1 says, “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
What ministry? Did I miss something? This is the first verse of the chapter, after all. But I needed to go back to the last verse of the previous chapter to understand what this ministry actually is. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says,
“And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
The ministry we have all been called to is one of beholding the glory of the Lord or, in another translation, reflecting His glory. As He transforms us through His Spirit and we behold Him through His Word, we begin reflecting Him more clearly. And I love the beautiful way Paul writes about our everyday lives in this verse. Both the joys and the trials are transforming us “from one degree of glory to another”. What a change in perspective we would have if we saw all of life as “glory” and we all realized we were in ministry…reflection ministry…even if our paycheck never comes from a church!
How do we do this? We live before others as what we are: jars of clay that are often afflicted, discouraged, and perplexed but who have great hope in the Treasure living inside of us, our mighty Lord. They see us as not losing heart at the momentary trials because we know there is enough grace for those trials and they become “glory” moments as we reflect the greatness of our God in and through them. They see us as joyful even when our outer man is wasting away, because we long for Heaven; to finally be home with Jesus, free from sin and the sorrow of this fallen world. In the ordinary and mundane, to the tragedies and unexpected, they see us reflecting the One Whom we love, our Lord Jesus Christ!
May our “reflection ministry” be such “so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God” (2. Corinthians 4:15)
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.” 2 Corinthians 2:14