Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Gal 1:3-5 NKJV)
I don't know why, but this time in my readings through Paul's letters, I have been intrigued by the nature of his introductions where in the past I have most likely skimmed them in order to get to the "good stuff". But there is good stuff in all of God's Word, even in the salutations.
Have you ever noticed how Paul often wishes grace and peace from God to his audience? These are good things to wish for someone and I like to think Paul is wishing grace and peace to me as well. However, what I would like to explore further today are not the aspects of grace and peace but the fact that they come from God and how deeply Paul must have been connected with God to feel so comfortable in relaying the message of peace and grace to all of us. In the passage above from Galatians 1:3-5, I see three things about Paul that we would do well to mimick ourselves.
Paul knew God intimately.
Because of Paul's deep connection with God through the scriptures and prayer, he related to God as Father, knew Jesus as Lord and could pass on God's message of the gospel to others with authority. Paul also knew of God's will.
Application: How well do I know God? What have I learned about Him or from Him today that I can share with someone else?
Paul cared for people deeply.
Paul's intimacy with God gave him the ability to care for people so much that he would risk everything to share God's message of grace, peace and salvation to them. How else could Paul have continued his work of spreading the gospel through all of his trials - the beatings, the prison terms, etc.? More evidence of Paul's love for his "flock" is seen in his letters by the prayers and thanksgiving Paul offers to God for them. Because of God's grace in Paul's life, Paul was a thankful man.
Application: How deeply am I infused with God's love? Am I spending enough time in His presence and in His word and allowing it to work in me so it can overflow to others in my life?
Paul gave God the glory explicitly.
There is no doubt that Paul was a humble man and no doubt as to where Paul got his strength, gifts and authority from. Even in a simple letter salutation, Paul uses the phrase referring to God's "to whom be glory forever".
Application: How often do I give thanks to God for all of the good things in my life? Do I recognize each moment that all good things come from Him and share that fact with others?
Yes, we can all learn from Paul. He was real and genuine, yet he was so intimately connected with God that he was able to give to others naturally out of the overflow of God's blessings in his life. May all of us stay in touch with God in this way so we too, can pass on His blessings to others.