The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. Philippians 4:23 (NIV).
Once again we come to the end of a book. Except for Colossians, 1 Timothy, and Titus, Paul ended his letters by invoking the name of “Jesus Christ” (or “Christ Jesus” or “Lord”). So let’s think about ending this book with that theme of, “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
See, my friend, Gary, died from cancer a few days ago. A friend’s dad, Gary courageously battled the disease for many months but it finally got the upper hand and took him. I can almost picture Satan laughing with delight, just like Don McLean sang, the day the music died.
Except that isn’t what happened at all. It was the grace of Jesus. It’s really God who was laughing. It’s really Jesus, and Gary, standing on the other side of death, laughing a big ole belly laugh at Satan taking yet another punch in the eye. That happened because my friend believed in Jesus. He believed in Jesus enough to inspire his son to grow up to be the kind of man who would devote his life to preaching and teaching the world about Jesus. His son, Patrick, is a friend to whom I send my warmest tears and fondest prayers for Christ’s peace today.
Jesus understands that, because He imparts His awesome grace on my friend’s family, and all of us, and our world in general. Especially today. In the face of death all around, it matters more than ever to know that Jesus gives us His grace to be with our own spirits. What is best in us gets to show through right now, because of Him, so that God’s kingdom might grow: one kind act at a time by showing His grace.
That’s how it grew in Philippi. That’s why Paul knew he could send prayers of Christ’s grace to his Philippian friends and they would know what he was talking about. That’s how we can still know today that these words God gives us in the Bible mean more than ever and are still how Christ communicates.
Another is in knowing good people of faith pass from this life to the next. It’s hard to watch good friends mourn the people they love most, even when we know those loved ones are celebrating in Paradise. It hurts them. Yet all things end, even books, and even our lives here. The best we can do is listen, love generously, and pray. Pray the Lord’s grace in my friend’s family because in Jesus, now and later, there is real life, true peace, honest meaning, and endless adventure. There’s heaven now and later. Until then, may His grace be with our spirits.
For further reading: the last verses of Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, 1 and 2 Timothy, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Titus, Philemon, Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians
Lord Jesus, all praise to You. Thank You for Your grace.