"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. " (2 Corinthians 4:6-7, ESV)
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16, ESV)
As we begin to look at the themese that run throughout these verses, we can pick up on a few key words: glory . glory of God . transformed . Jesus Christ . renewed . These words give us a hint as what Paul is talking about in this section. After he has just ended a discussion on the old covenant's fading glory, he climaxes by showing us that the glory of the new covenant is not fading but is instead a great glory that is permanent. Specifically, in 3:18, Paul says that all who have "turned to the Lord" see the glory of the Lord (Jesus Christ) "as in a mirror". As I began thinking of what that imagery meant, I got a clear picture in my mind of what looking into a mirror shows us. If I look into a mirror, I will see myself staring back at me! And Paul here is saying that we behold Jesus in a mirror! What does that mean? He is saying that as we are transformed into the the same image that we see of Christ in the mirror. God's glory is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ who is in all believers and God's Spirit transforms us to look more and more like Christ so that we behold a better and better image of Christ in ourselves.
Lastly, as Paul has mentioned the trials that he and his fellow ministers of the gospel have been through, he makes an astounding statement, "So we do not lose heart..." (4:16), because he knows that we should know too - that though our earthly bodies are decaying, dying everyday a little bit more, our inner selves are being renewed. How are they being renewed? By the knowledge of the glory of God that we possess, and by the transforming work of the Spirit of God to change us from one image of God to a more glorious image of God -- the likeness of the perfect image of God: Jesus Christ.
So how does this relate to the daily grind of work, family, friends, and life in general? John MacArthur, his 2 Corinthians study guide asks the question, "How can you practically 'behold the glory of the Lord' in everyday activities?" and so I pose a similar question: How in the midst of the distraction of daily life can you 'behold the glory of the Lord' by looking to Jesus? That may mean a daily reminder that it is GOD who works in us sanctification, and our own efforts are NOT enough; or that may look like simply resting in the righteousness that is imputed to you and not trying to add to it. By beholding Jesus in the mirror of the Word, we see both our lost state apart from Him AND our new selves that are continually being transformed into his likeness. And that I can praise God for because I sure do need that reminder!