Grace and Peace
Have you ever noticed how often the phrase “grace and peace” is used in Scripture? It was used almost 20 times as a greeting in letters and epistles in the New Testament.
According to Merriam-Webster, (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grace)
a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b : a virtue coming from God
c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
d: a temporary exemption : reprieve
e : a charming or attractive trait or characteristic
No doubt, grace is given freely to us by our Creator through his Son, Jesus Christ. We would be spiritually lost without it. But how often do we extend grace to those around us? On a personal level, it is very easy for me to lose my temper and forget that we all make mistakes. We all have bad days, weeks, hours or minutes. In times of stress, it is really easy to let those minutes and hours out of my bad days and weeks to take total control and lash out on everyone around me. I am learning though, that better, less natural response, is to respond with grace.
Anger and impatience NEVER deliver the responses I want or need. Even if there is a temporary submission to my will, the emotional and spiritual damage is done and the behavior I was looking for is not rewarding at all. But, when I respond with grace, the result is nothing short of miraculous! In fact, I would say that the direct result of grace is PEACE!
According to Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/peace), “peace” is:
a: a state of tranquility or quiet
b: freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions
c: harmony in personal relations
Peace is absolutely the opposite of anger, stress and tension. I can say with a huge amount of confidence that our family has recently gone through perhaps the most challenging period of our lives in about the last 14 years. Theoretically, we should feel like life is in absolute chaos right now. Instead, we are experiencing a whole lot of peace!
Our difficult circumstances have given us the perfect opportunity to practice “grace giving” on a whole new level. It is clear to me that we have had countless friends and family praying for us. During our most difficult times we have managed to extend grace to each other. My personal experience is telling me that extending grace delivers peace.
In Scripture, the greeting that we see over and over is “Grace and peace”, not “Peace and grace”. Nothing in the Bible is there by accident. Every word is there for a purpose. Can you imagine what life would be like if you only extended grace when you were at peace? Or what if grace was only extended TO you when the person you needed to give you grace was at peace? I’m going to go out a limb here and say that you don’t have to IMAGINE either of those scenarios, because they are probably your reality (and mine) most of the time.
We all have the promise of eternal peace because of the grace that was given to us on the cross when God sacrificed his perfect Son for is imperfect creation. Grace on the cross = Peace for eternity. It seems that Paul’s favorite greeting is not just a greeting, but a reminder of how God has treated us, and how we are to treat others.
1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons[a]:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.