Epaphras, who is in prison with me for the cause of Christ Jesus, greets you, as well as my coworkers Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philemon 23-25 CEB)
It’s not at all unusual for this phrase to flow from Paul’s pen, whether he is writing to an individual (2 Tim. 4:22; Philemon 25), a church (Phil. 4:23) or a group of churches across a rather large area (Gal. 6:18). While “grace” is Paul’s well-known watchword, his use of this particular phrase – “with your spirit” – accentuates where Paul wants to see grace reside in all disciples – in their spirit. It is from their spirit that Christ’s grace should well up and flow out into the lives of the people all around them.
Grace; Christ’s grace. In our spirit; with our spirit. Mull those words over for a minute. It’s quite a remarkable thought, isn’t it?
Picture the concept as two people standing beside each other, “with” each other: one named “spirit” (your spirit) and the other named “grace (Christ’s great, free goodness). Where you go, God’s grace goes. Where you stand, you stand not alone, but with the grace of God.
It sums up the essence of what we are as Christians: recipients and embodiments of the amazing grace of God.
It reminds us of how we have the power to deliberately choose to connect each moment in our lives with the great work of God. The heart of the Master of the Universe is connected with the center of who we are and then, with that holy connection at work, we reach out to those with which God has crossed our lives. Each moment then becomes the holiest of moments, for the here and now becomes the when and where the Lord of all touches us all.
It calls for us to act very differently from those around us, and not merely feel comfortable in settling for “just fitting in” with the others with whom we are naturally drawn. The very core of our being has been touched by God and his grace and so, how can we ever be the same, whether it be in terms of who we are or how we conduct ourselves with others? We are changed. Maybe not nearly so much as we need to be or would even like to be yet, but changed, nonetheless. For the good. For the betterment of all.
Father God in heaven, do send your God Spirit of grace to stand alongside my spirit throughout this day, I pray. As you have poured out grace upon grace on me, may I be a conduit for your grace to others today. For in the name of him by whom this grace flows, I pray. Amen.