Sunday, November 13, 2016

Peace be to the brethren - Ephesians 6:21-24

"But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts. Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love." (Ephesians 6:21-24)
We live in a highly connected world. Sometimes it is hard to remember that back then they did not. It could be months in between communications and years between visits. Many people to whom Paul wrote had never met him or had met him only once. Having heard that Paul was imprisoned, many people prayed and hoped for his safety with out ever knowing if their prayers were having an effect or if their prayers had found the object for which they prayed. For them, it was a great joy to receive Tychicus and hear the report of how Paul was fairing.

Paul closes his letter by praying that they would find peace along with love and faith. It is interesting that Paul often holds these two virtues together: love and faith. Love without faith is weak and often misdirected. Faith without love can actually be destructive to those to whom it is directed. Both are required and necessary. They are as two sides of the same coin. More precisely, one is the action and the other its conduit, as Paul says, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love." (Galatians 5:6) Love is to be the conduit through which faith works.

Finally, Paul speaks of those who love our Lord with a love that is incorruptible. An incorruptible love is one that does not fade, grow cold, or diminish by degrees. Some people start out read-hot but end up lukewarm, or worse, stone cold dead. Our love for God should ever be increasing and is something we should guard as precious treasure. Anything of value must be tested, and so with our love for God. Our love will be tested but it need not fail. Our incorruptible love for God is at the center of our life with God and our life with each other. It is what sustain us and gives us the power to love others, even the unlovely and unlovable. Let us not grow cold in love but ever be those who stoke its flames to a full burning fire.

David Robison

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