Grace to You All

I think Paul’s favorite word/topic was grace. He uses it countless times in his writing. As a matter of fact, did you know that he opens and closes every single letter with some variation of “Grace to you”?1  Really! Go ahead! Check it out. I’ll wait.  🧐. . . 🤔. . . 😬 . . . 🙄 . . .  I told you so. 😉

     Why was Paul so consumed with grace?  Consider this. Before Paul was converted, he spent his life persecuting Christians and even “approved of [Stephen’s] execution.”2  On his way to Damascus, Paul was “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.”3 He actually asked the high priest for permission to arrest “any belonging to the Way”3 so he “might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”4  He writes that he “persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.”5  Wow!

     But you know what is truly amazing? Paul did these things because he thought it was the righteous thing to do! Which makes me wonder . . . 🤔 What righteous things am I doing that God might not approve? Hmm. But I digress. What happened to make Paul realize he was not pleasing God? Christ confronted him!

     Paul’s testimony is perhaps the greatest of all time! His life was absolutely turned upside down. I imagine no follower of Christ had thought about evangelizing Paul. As a matter of fact, even after Paul proclaimed to have been converted, believers were afraid of him. When Paul came “to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple.”6

     After his conversion, Paul referred to himself as “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.”7 He believed he was “the foremost”8 sinner of all. He felt God’s grace to him was so undeserved that he spent the rest of his life proclaiming Christ as Lord and administering to everyone around him the grace that he had received himself. He writes Timothy, “But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”9

     And that’s how we should live our lives as well—grace overflowing. What does that mean exactly? Webster defines it as: approval, favor, mercy, pardon. And that’s pretty accurate for our purposes, too. The common religious phrase is that grace is unmerited favor from God, but that’s a bit redundant for me because, really, a favor is always unmerited, right? 🤓 Anyway. We need to be people who are overflowing with grace.

     Paul was overwhelmed by God’s forgiveness toward him. So, everywhere he went, he announced, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers.”10  Paul’s life was radically changed by grace. He says, “Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace.”11  We, too, have been give this “gift of God’s grace.” As a matter of fact, John writes, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”12

     Since we have been given much grace, why are we not gracious? 🤔 What would it look like to be gracious to others? Well, you know, being thoughtful, hospitable, courteous, outgoing, polite, neighborly, attentive, considerate, friendly—giving unasked for and undeserved favor to people. It can include big things as well as little things. And the little things often make the biggest impact. Why? Because they are so unnecessary. Gracious acts are not required or expected; they are extra. And go a long way when delivered.  Paul writes, “But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”13

     As we learn to “excel in this act of grace,” we will, like Paul, be overflowing in grace.  Grace is really what people need more than anything else. So, at least for today, let’s be gracious.

     “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.”14 🙂

1Romans 1:7      2Acts 8:1     3Acts 9:1       4Acts 9:2    5Galatians 1:13    6Acts 9:26     71 Timothy 1:13     81 Timothy 1:15     91 Timothy 1:13-14       10Galatians 6:18    11Ephesians 3:7    12John 1:16     131 Corinthians 12:9      14Romans 16:20





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