The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 1 Thessalonians 5:28 (NIV).
What a great way to end a letter! Read it again: it’s the perfect way to end a letter to several dozen of your close friends.
Or several billion.
Or to begin your day.
Or to bless your dinner.
Or to greet someone at WalMart (go ahead: try it!).
Or…or…you get the picture.
Next time you say goodbye, invoke the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ into their lives until you meet again.
In fact, shouldn’t this benediction be on your lips at all times? When we really love someone, when we adore them, when we care enough to send the very best (including a Hallmark), shouldn’t we be blessing them with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to be with them? At or near the end of Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon, Paul uses nearly identical words to bless his readers with the grace of Jesus. He uses slightly different words in Colossians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. The message: Jesus is the perfect way to end a letter.
Or begin your day…or bless your dinner…or, again, you get the picture.
We can’t do any better than the grace of Jesus Christ. It’s the grace of Christ that created us, then breathed life into us. It is the grace of Christ that sustains us in breath, blood and bone every day. It is by the grace of Jesus that we live and GET TO LIVE every day. It is by the grace of Jesus that we get eternal life after this one, and that we get to be part of that eternity now. It is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we can love.
If you could send a Hallmark to your very best friend, wouldn’t you want to end it by giving them the best you had to give? That’s what Paul is saying here (and in all those other letters). This was serious stuff to Paul who, just the verse prior to this one, had implored his friends to read the letter to others. Back then, it wasn’t broken up into numbered verses; back then, Paul probably though people wouldn’t memorize his words. But he knew that God had spoken through them and that they were important. They were words that God wanted us to remember.
So it only follows that Paul would end the letter with a benediction that blesses the reader with the present grace of the God-man, Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Holy Spirit, one God forever. With that thought, Paul closes out his letter and so shall we.
See you next time.
For further reading: Romans 16:20, 2 Thessalonians 1:1.
Lord Jesus, bless me with Your wonderful grace today that I might share it with others.