I admit it. Sometime when I read the Bible, I skim over the parts that seem almost like “throwaways”. You know. The genealogies, greetings and the sort. They can seem like the obligatory copyright and table-of-contents before you get to the start of a story.
This was happening the other night as I started to read the book of Ephesians. The first couple verses read like, “Paul…blah, blah, blah…Ephesus…blah, blah, blah…grace and peace…blah, blah, blah.”
But after reading a bit further, my eyes flitted back to “grace and peace”. I read verse two over several times…
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
It was as if Paul was just handing out gifts to the readers of his letter — reaching in to a spiritual bag of presents, looking for what would be most needed and appreciated. I can almost hear Paul saying, “Here’s some grace for you. And some peace for you. These are from Dad. He thought you’d like them.”
Before Christ came, it was primarily angels and prophets who spoke such blessings. But after Jesus gave his Spirit to us, we are the ones who are charged with declaring grace and peace to the world around us.
Some of the most profound gifts I’ve ever received have been blessings from Christ, spoken by another. And these were not just words — they were animated by the Spirit of God himself to become life to me. They were just what I needed. “You are forgiven.” “You’re going to make it.” “I love you.”
This Christmas, maybe the greatest gifts we’ll pass out to others won’t be those wrapped with bows. They’ll be the ones spoken from the heart, prompted by God, to meet a need of the soul.
Is there someone in your life — a neighbor, a child, a parent, a co-worker, an enemy — who desperately needs to hear Christ’s heart for them? Will you speak it, write it, text it, sing it?
“The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry.” Proverbs 25:11 (MSG)
Spread hope this Christmas!