2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory…
1. Every man has a strong natural instinct for greatness and applause.
2. A wrong direction of this instinct originates enormous mischief.
3. The mission of Christianity is to give a right direction to this instinct. Of all the systems on earth it alone teaches man what true greatness is, and the way to attain it. The text teaches three things concerning it:
I. THE IDEAL OF TRUE GREATNESS IS DIVINE. What is the glory of the Lord? (See Exodus 18:19). This passage teaches that the Eternal regarded His glory as consisting not in the immensity of His possessions, the almightiness of His power, or the infinitude of His wisdom, but in His goodness. The true greatness of man consists in moral goodness.
1. This greatness is soul-satisfying — and this alone.
2. This greatness commands the respect of all moral intelligence — and this alone.
3. This greatness is attainable by all persons — and this alone.
4. This greatness we carry into the other world — and this alone.
II. THE PATH OF TRUE GREATNESS IS MORAL TRANSFORMATION. How is man to come into possession of God's glory? t. By means of an instrument — glass. What is the glass? The mirror that reflects the glory of God. Nature is a glass. Judaism is a glass. Christ is a glass. He is the brightest glass of all — reflects more Divine rays upon the universe than any -other.
2. By means of attention to that instrument. "By looking." Men look at the glitterings of worldly glory, not on the glowing beams of the Divine, and hence they are not changed into the Divine. Observe —
(1) A concentrated looking on Christ commands admiration.
(2) Admiration commands imitation. Christ is the most inimitable being in the universe, because His character is the most admirable, the most transparent, the most unchangeable.
(3) Imitation ensures assimilation. Here, then, is the path to true glory — a path clear as day, certain as eternity. All who tread this path must become glorious.
III. THE LAW OF TRUE GREATNESS IS PROGRESSIVE. "From glory to glory." Glory in God is unprogressive, but in all intelligent creatures it is ever advancing. Two things show that the human soul is made for endless advancement.
1. Facts in connection with its nature.
(1) Its appetites are intensified by its supplies.
(2) Its capacities augment with its attainments; the more it has the more it is capable of receiving.
(3) Its productiveness increases with its productions. Not so with the soil of the earth, or the trees of the forest, all wear themselves out.
2. Arrangements in connection with its history. There are three things which always serve to bring out the latent powers of the soul.
(1) A new relationship. The wondrous powers and experiences slumbering in every human heart of maternity and fatherhood are brought out by relationship.
(2) New sceneries. New sceneries in nature often start in the mind feelings and powers unknown before.
(3) New engagements. Many a man who was thought a mere dolt in one occupation, transferred to another has become a brilliant genius. These three soul-developing forces we have here, we shall have for ever.
IV. THE AUTHOR OF TRUE GREATNESS IS THE SPIRIT OF GOD. How does He do it? As He does everything else in creation — by means; and the means are here stated, "Beholding as in a glass." Conclusion: How transcendently valuable is Christianity, inasmuch as it directs the human soul to true glory and indicates the way of realising it!
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.