I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
We have come to the end of our Colossians study and what a great book this has been. Paul is so passionate about Christ that even while he is in prison he continues to minister to others. That is some serious dedication. I imagine that if I had been in his shoes I would have been filled with fear and focused more on my circumstances. I think my letter would have been something like “Please pray for me because I can’t seem to focus on anything except that I am cold, tired, hungry and scared.” It would be easy to become self focused but Paul has one thing on his mind and that is making Christ known and he won’t let that little inconvenience of being in chains keep him from doing that.
I love the last verse of this book. Paul picks up the pen himself and asks for prayer and then speaks a benediction on the people of Colossae. “Grace be with you.”
A benediction is a short prayer for divine help, blessing and guidance over the people of God. It is often given at the end of a worship service. I have very fond childhood memories of seeing our pastor (my dad) raise his hand and pray this special blessing over the congregation. It was almost like a special mark that he was leaving with us as we went into the week reminding us that God is mighty to save and eager to bless.
“Grace be with you.”
This is beautiful. Grace is undeserved favor. It is something we need immeasurable amounts of and yet something we do not deserve and cannot earn. We need grace to help us deal kindly with our children and to show love and respect to our husbands. It is grace that causes us to overcome temptations and it is grace that forgives us when we fail. Grace not only gives us what we need but also things we simply want. Grace stays God’s hand against the wicked and grace allows us to grow in godliness despite our foolishness. Since we all deserve nothing short of hell we can say that everything in our lives is grace.
Grace is freely given by God, and most liberally through Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is the source of our grace we need to stay close to him. We do this by use of the “means of grace.” God has given us gifts that he uses to bless us. We hear God in and are transformed by his word. We speak to God in and are strengthened through prayer. We experience God together in corporate worship. If we want an abundance of grace in our lives then we must seek it in the God who desires to bless us in so many ways (1 Tim 1:14). We seek that grace–we seek Christ–through this sacred means.
Let me leave you with the first benediction found in scripture and I pray that you have a grace filled day.
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Looking to Jesus,
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