Grace. Our English word can have various meanings. It can be the name of a dear friend. As a child recently described to me, grace can be the way a person walks into a room. With that I imagine the flow of a dress, the cascade of a waterfall, the sway of a tree.
Reading Ephesians 1:2, we run across the word grace. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The ideas of grace we just visited do not fit here. What is this grace Paul was writing about? The concept is familiar to us; yet, it is not the easiest to put into words. Grace is God’s undeserved kindness, His unmerited favor. It is a gift we receive. Nothing we do has earned it. “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. (Romans 5:15 ESV)
In Ephesians 1:2 Paul says “Grace to you.” It is a gift. Then he adds another gift he wants the church to receive, peace.
Our world might define peace in many different ways. The peace here is specifically the peace “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The grace of God we have received. We don’t deserve His forgiveness. We deserve punishment for our sin. Yet God placed that punishment on Jesus. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV) Now our identity is different. “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11 ESV) We have no need to be anxious or fearful any longer. Jesus is alive! We live!
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 ESV) In the midst of the struggles of this life, God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds.
“Peace was the common Hebrew greeting (šālôm)… As in all his greetings, Paul brings grace and peace together, and the two may be said to sum up all the gifts of Christ. The greeting has thus become a blessing, or a prayer that his readers may know fully the free, undeserved favour of God, restoring them to himself, and adding to them all that they need…; and that they may know peace with God, peace in their hearts, and peace with one another.”
It is not only peace from God that we receive as believers, it is His very presence! “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 ESV)
In Philippians 4:8 we are told our very thoughts are to be true. As followers of Christ, we can greet one another with the word “peace.” This is because our confidence is outside of time and space, beyond circumstances. We can greet one another with grace and peace because of the miraculous work of Christ on the cross. He is alive!
God remains, circumstances change. Warm days at the beach, freezing days in the snow, restful days of vacation, and heartbreaking days at work and home can be an invitation to think on true grace and peace from God. Moments God uses to let us see once again the gifts of His grace and peace.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
You are wonderful. Thank you for giving us not only your grace and peace, but for your presence. Please cause me to think about things the way You do. In Your Name, Amen.
When have you needed to be reminded of God’s gift of grace to you?
How does knowing the God of peace change things?