Can you believe there remain just two weeks in the year 2019?!
I am nearing the end of reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation for the year. Reading Scripture is life-giving and because of this rich spiritual practice, I have learned much and noticed details missed in the past. If you are looking for a life-changing practice for 2020, consider getting The Daily Walk Bible for Christmas and prepare for an exciting year of growth and discovery.
Reading the letters Paul wrote to the church during his time has been invigorating, inspiring, and interesting. I noted an intriguing pattern in Paul’s letters in the manner in which he opened with a greeting.
What do all of these verses have in common? Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Colossians 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 2:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 1:3, 1 Peter 1:2, 2 Peter 1:2, and Revelation 1:4. They each open a letter with the greeting of “grace and peace.”
The salutation of “grace, mercy and peace” is also found within 1 Timothy 1:2, 1 Timothy 1:2, James 1:3, and Jude 2.
Have you ever thought about the way you greet others? Are you welcoming? Distracted? Aloof? Entitled? Intentional? Encouraging?
Paul’s use of grace and peace as a greeting was significant.
Grace reminded the letter-recipients of the undeserved gift of God for all humankind. The grace-filled gift of God was His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom a free gift was offered; a gift not dependent upon any behavior but only that of the Savior. God offered relationship and transformation through His grace. Paul encouraged those he greeted with the grace of God. Grace coupled with peace revealed the ultimate greeting and blessing.
Peace from God is different than the peace of this world.
Jesus provided this supernatural peace when He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27). Paul sought to lift the gaze of those who received his letters from the issues and hardships of life, to the peace offered by God through Jesus. God’s other-worldly peace transcended all the earthly burdens, joys, and circumstances in Paul’s day, just like today. Paul pointed to true peace for the soul.
Grace and peace; wow, what a greeting!
The mercy of God often flowed together with the grace and peace of God in greetings found in Scripture. Mercy is not giving what is deserved, which is death because of man’s sin and consequent separation from God. It is the flip side to grace. By including mercy in the greeting, a complete expression of all the gifts and blessings of God surfaced. Our triune God reached out in extravagant love to offer what is totally undeserved; pardon, salvation and life.
I wonder if Mary experienced the fullness of God’s love when she was greeted by the angel long ago?
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:28-37)
It appears Mary received this celestial greeting with the grace, mercy and peace of God. Her response overflowed with humility and honor.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Mary Visits Elizabeth. At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.” (Luke1:38-45)
Mary’s visit and greeting brought great excitement and joy within her relative, Elizabeth. A simple greeting caused the provocative proclamation of Jesus as “Lord.” Joy and hope flowed from the kind and uncomplicated interchange between Mary and Elizabeth.
The manner in which we acknowledge, receive, and address others brings about an impact. Have you thought about how you greet others? Do you approach others with humility, joy, and honor? In what ways do you offer the grace, mercy and peace of God?
Notice your opening interactions with others.
Ask the Holy Spirit to awaken within you the privilege to offer the grace, mercy and peace of God to those around you. Let the power of these gifts from God transform people in your path: the grocery clerk, your co-workers, children, neighbors, spouse, extended family, postal worker, department store employee, the airline steward, the uber driver, your church staff, etc.
May you offer the greeting of grace, mercy, and peace so that God’s abundant love brings about redemption and transformation in the lives of others.
Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Check out these suggested readings.
J.K.Hodge. Grace and Peace: A Plea for Spiritual Humility. Hudsonville, MI. 2014.
Max Lucado. Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine. Nashville, TN.2014.