Grace and its Treasures

grace

In the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Paul wishes them grace from God: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  In the closing words of this letter he prays for God’s grace for them: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

The letter begins with God’s grace and it ends with God’s grace.  What fills the rest of this letter are treasures that grow out of the grace of God:

  • Joy: “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy” (1:4); “Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord!” (3:1); and “Rejoice in the Lord always; I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4)
  • Hope: “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6); “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (4:19)
  • Integrity: “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27)
  • Compassion: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (2:1-4)
  • Forgiveness: Particularly in how Paul calls for the Philippians to welcome Epaphroditus back after he let them down (2:25-30)
  • Peace: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:7); “And the God of peace will be with you” (4:9)
  • Contentment: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation” (4:12)
  • Strength: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (4:13)

In Changes that Heal Dr. Henry Cloud describes grace as: “Grace is the unmerited favor of God toward people.  Grace is something we have not earned and do not deserve.  As Frederick Buechner says, ‘Grace is something that you can never get but only be given.  There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream.’”

In Romans 5:8 Paul explains, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Lewis Smedes adds, “The gospel of grace releases us from the guilt of failure and opens new possibilities for a new effort.  Moreover, it offers a new relationship with the Commander.  He who pointed us to His design for living at Mount Sinai embraces us with His love at Mount Calvary.”

God’s grace toward us is what makes possible the great treasures we find in Philippians: joy, hope, integrity, compassion, forgiveness, peace, contentment, and strength.  It is grace that makes these treasures available to us, for it is grace that enables us to be filled with the God of grace.

 

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