"Now the Lord is Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.
And we all who with unveiled faces
contemplate the Lord's glory,
are being transformed into his image
with ever-increasing glory,
which comes from the Lord,
who is the Spirit."
2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV
2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV
In the Strong's Concordance of the Bible (4151), the word Spirit is Pneuma, from a current of air, breath, blast, or breeze. The term is used to refer to a human spirit, a superhuman such as angel or demon, or as in this case, the divine who is God, Christ's Spirit and the Holy Spirit-ghost, life, spirit, mind.
I like doing word studies where the word, designed or illuminated is at the top of the page and then the definitions and sources are listed below. It gives me a good reference and the doodling/lettering part allows for pondering and meditation of the meaning of the word.
One of the word/s was different in the various translations, so it caught my attention in verse 18: contemplate, beholding, and reflect are all used as our interaction with the Spirit of the Lord.
I have been taught that the word contemplate means to study and meditate on. That is true, but that is too narrow a definition. It is so much more, extending to the mind, and reaching beyond to the heart of the spirit, and into life itself! Contemplate, behold, reflect are verbs, actions to participate in. Dictionaries help clarify and broaden my understanding of the word/s. The Strong's Concordance defines the term in 2 Corinthians 3:18 "beholding," in the King James version, as to mirror oneself; to see reflected.
Contemplate: to look thoughtfully for a long time at, to think profoundly, deeply, at length, meditate on, to view or consider with continued attention, to ponder
Behold: to gaze upon, observe, perceive through sight, to hold, to mirror oneself, to see reflected. Behold has the idea of gazing at someone or something extraordinarily good, such as a marvel, inspiration, miracle...
Reflect: to give back or show an image of; mirror, to reproduce; show, to throw or cast back; to give back or exhibit as an image, likeness such as the pulse reflects the condition of the heart, or the masterpiece reflects the artist's vision. To reflect means to give evidence of the character or quality of something. Reflecting can mean seeing something original in another form or image. It means to be bright by reflecting or casting light.
Clearly, contemplating, beholding, and reflecting mean more than studying. We study to know, and we know to experience. Studying is like reading the guidebook for an anticipated destination. It is very helpful to inform and help direct where to go and what to look for. But it is not the trip or adventure itself. That is found in the experience. In this case, in beholding the glory of the Lord. How do I behold the glory of the Lord?
"So all of us who have had that veil removed
can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—
makes us more and more like him
as we are changed into his glorious image."
remove from me any veil,
any filter, any assumption
that gets in my way of seeing You.
It is You, Spirit of the Lord, only You,
who can transform me
more and more
to be like You Christ Jesus,
and reflect your glory,
and radiant beauty in
who You made me to be."
Well, that was the word study. Like "ever-increasing glory," it is a process. I don't have to make it happen. That is God's part. My part is to come open to God, ready to listen and respond to Him in gratitude and worship.
What does this look like for me in real life now? The text suggests to me that I am to be with God to the extent that I see myself reflected in His eyes. This also has to extend to other people. It has made me aware that I have a hard time loving some people. I ask God what I should do, knowing I can't muster up the love needed. The Holy Spirit has to give it to me and I have to experience God's great love for me. The thought came, look for Jesus in each person. The next time, in the situation I was frustrated with, I was quiet and looked for Jesus in the person I was having a hard time with. I saw Him there. Peace. The Spirit of the Lord giving me the freedom to love.
"...the riches of the glory of this mystery,
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory"
- Colossians 1:27 ESV