Nearly every New Testament letter begins with the greeting, ‘grace and peace (shalom) to you’. It’s so much more than just a formal greeting. It reminds us of the two most basic ingredients of a fruitful and fulfilled life, God’s grace and God’s peace.
Recently I came across this definition of grace, ‘God freely extending Himself to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them’. In other words, God’s grace is God Himself right at our side.
And there are many definitions of peace. I really love the Hebrew shalom. It sounds so peaceful. It means wholeness, where all essential parts are joined together. I’m truly at peace when every part of my being – spirit, soul and body – is working together in harmony, and in harmony with the heart of God, and, of course, in harmony with other people.
Peter’s longing for the readers of his letter is that grace and peace should be ‘multiplied’ to them. He wants exponential growth. There’s a well-known story that illustrates exponential growth. The inventor of chess, asked his ruler to reward him by giving him wheat, one grain on the first square of the chessboard, two on the second, four on the third, doubling the amount each time, until all sixty-four squares were covered. The ruler laughed it off as a meagre prize for such an amazing invention. But he later discovered that the actual amount would have ruined him. On the entire chessboard there would have been 1,199,000,000,000 (just over a trillion) metric tons. That is about 1,645 times the annual production of wheat worldwide.
There is no limit to the grace and peace that God is able to give me. He wants to multiply it exponentially to every single one of His children.
Peter’s greeting tells us where these two basic ingredients for life are to be found. It is ‘in the knowledge of God and of Yeshua our Lord’. ‘The knowledge of God’ isn’t just knowing about Him. It’s a relationship, knowing Him personally as Lord, Father and Friend. In fact, anything that we know about Him apart from this personal relationship is always liable to be incomplete and distorted. And, as Peter reminds us, we cannot know God personally apart from Jesus, trusted as Saviour and followed as Lord.
As I was thinking about this, I felt God was saying to me, “I’m not a courier”. When the courier delivers a parcel from Amazon, he leaves the parcel and goes. God is happy to give us His grace and peace from time to time, when we feel in particular need, but if I want to see the exponential growth of these wonderful gifts in my life, I must receive not just the gift, but the Giver. I can receive a single parcel from Amazon on my doorstep, but how different it would be if I lived in the Amazon warehouse!
Prayer: Father, how I thank and praise You for Your inexhaustible resources of grace and peace. Today, I receive You afresh into my life as my living Lord, asking that You will increase You grace and peace to meet all my needs. Amen.
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