The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all. 2 Timothy 4:22 (NIV).
Here we are again, at another ending, at the end of another book. If you’re a ten-year reader of this blog, thank you! I hope it’s a blessing to you. You’ll remember we’ve reached endings together of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Ruth, Mark, Hebrews, James, 1/2/3 John, 1/2 Thessalonians and now 1/2 Timothy, as well as the topics of the Ten Commandments and Santa Claus. That’s thirteen books of the Bible and 15 topics overall; well over a million words. We’ve spent some time together. God-willing, we’ll keep doing that.
And if He isn’t willing, if this is the last of these posts, then the Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all. I mean that. We’ve (hopefully) learned from Paul to end our conversations genuinely, to infuse our parting with the same Spirit and love that we (hopefully, again) brought into our meeting. As Paul closed out his letters with greetings from and to friends, he also closed them out by praying the Lord over the recipient.
That’s a bold thing to do, you know. Paul understood these letters would be widely-read. He probably didn’t envision they’d ever be part of canon Scripture, but he probably did imagine many people hearing them (or hearing about them). He put down on paper both his personal affections for the reader as well as his prayers for the same. In a time when that could get you killed, that’s bold.
And you know that time is now. Praying Jesus Christ in public today can get you arrested or killed in North Korea, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and many nations in Africa. In the US, it can get you fired. Putting those prayers on paper can have the same effect because then you involve those recipients. Yet, if we really believe in Jesus, then we’re compelled to do it. The heart of the Gospel is agape love: undeserved gracious love that goes out without any expectation of anything in return. No matter the consequences.
It’s that love that nailed Jesus to the cross. It’s that love that kept Him there, that rolled back the Easter stone. It’s that love that called Paul on a road into Syria. And it’s that love Paul wanted shared with his friends no matter what it would cost him. Not long after writing the letter, it cost Paul his life. Praise to God that He inspired Paul to be willing to do that.
So, at another ending, let us each be inspired to have that same faith and courage. To wish Christ’s love infuse our souls and bring grace and peace to each other. Grace and His love to you until the next time.
For further reading: Galatians 6:18, Colossians 4:18, Titus 1:1
Lord Jesus, thank You for endings and beginnings, for Your grace and love being in both. Thank You for lettings us have these times together.