Monday, May 16, 2022
The Apostle Paul closes his letter to the church at Ephesus with a standard benediction, but I believe that even things that seem standard have divine importance for our lives. In fact, I find several very important truths in the closing two verses. Here are a couple of thought stimulators for your day.
First, I see a distinction between verse 23 and 24. Verse 23 challenges us in our attitudes and behaviors towards those within the body of Christ. Verse 24 challenges us with our love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 23 is about the horizontal life we live, and verse 24 is about the vertical life we live. The life we live with others is to be lived as a product of the love we have for Jesus.
It is an old and maybe overused analogy, but it is still very true – input determines output. Garbage in – garbage out. “Bad company corrupts good character,” says Paul in his letter to the Corinthians. But when we input the peace and love of God into our lives, that’s what will flow out of us towards others.
Second, we are to be personally characterized by two attributes – peace and love. Paul sends peace to the brothers. Remember, he is in prison while he writes this. The people of the church are worried about him. They are deeply impacted by his condition because as members of the same body they hurt when he hurts. Paul understands the depth of personal emotions when people are connected at the heart of Jesus. He knows they are hurting for him, so he says, “Peace to you.” He wants them to rest and be quiet in the truth that God is in control. He doesn’t want his current circumstances to contribute to their conflict, but rather to be a connecting point of confidence in Christ. He wants them to be one with each other.
Then Paul says he wants us to have love with faith. Rather than separate these two into separate characteristics, I want to suggest that Paul may have had something else in mind. One simple possibility is that he was referring to love being the natural outflow of our faith. But there’s more. The source of our love with faith is God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. How did they model love with faith for us? Well, if we take the primary meaning of faith to be the moral conviction of truth, then it doesn’t apply to God. He does not have faith – He is the object of our faith. Jesus does not have a moral conviction of truth, He is the truth. But there is a secondary meaning to the word faith – constancy. It is that meaning that describes the nature and character of God. He is faithful. He is consistent. His love was carried to its completion on the cross of Christ. His love never fails.
I believe Paul is telling us to have that kind of love – love that is constant and consistent. Love that does not waver with circumstances. Love that doesn’t demand response. Love that proves our faith. This is critical as we witness to the grace of God. If we say that we know the truth, and our faith is in the One True God who never changes, and that love is the product of our faith, the love will be consistently seen in us. If the product of faith doesn’t validate the faith, then the faith is of no value.
Paul concludes his letter with one more challenge – to love the Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love. The word undying means incorruptible and perpetual. It’s how we are to love Christ, and how we are to love one another. As I get older I realize how love gets stronger. I love the Lord more than ever, and it’s the deepest and darkest trials that strengthen it the most, because I get to experience the faithfulness of His love for me. I love my wife more than ever, and it’s the grace I get from her every day that makes me love her more.
My friends, there is no stronger anchor to hold you in the hurricanes of life than the love of God. There is no more secure place to ride out the storms of life than in the grip of God. Love Him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. His grace will be sufficient for you every day.