Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Grace to You

There's something else I wanted to share after my reading of Galatians. It's not a new thought of mine, really, but something I've been turning over in my mind for a while.

I find it interesting to compare the opening addresses and closing notes in each of Paul's letters. He will often start by naming himself, and a coauthor if applicable, say who the letter is written to, then follow with blessings, thanks, and encouragement toward those people, all the while praising God. Take for example 1 Corinthians chapter 1:

Verse 1:
"Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,"

Paul states who is writing the letter.

Verse 2:
"To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:"

A very specific mention of the recipients.

Verses 3-9:
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."

Blessings, thanks, and encouragement to the people, as well as praise of God.

His letters will often end with blessings, admonitions, greetings to fellow laborers, and an occasional request for prayer.

Then take this the closing of 2 Corinthians:

"Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen."

He's closing out his letter to them with encouraging notes and blessings, and has an obvious love for these people. I've been thinking for a while now about what we can learn from this, and wondering how, as Christians, we could follow this example.

Often today, relationships are so shallow, and people seem to lack a genuine care for one another. Such encouragement is rare. Part of that is because people don't take the time to get to know someone well enough to know how the person needs to be encouraged. If you don't know what someone is going through, how will you know in what way to encourage him? We should be there for one another, bear one another's burdens, and be an encouragement and support to each other. How can we effectively do so if we don't take the time to stop and truly get to know someone? I think it is also good to let people know how much we appreciate them, and let them know you are praying for them and thank God for them.

Those are just some thoughts I had while comparing these passages, and I mull this over from time to time. What can we learn from this, and how can we apply it to our relationships?

In the words of Paul, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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