Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Paul was addicted to long sentences, which is extremely awkward for translators because Greek doesn’t use punctuation. Actually, my maternal grandfather was the same way (but with punctuation, since he wrote in English). One summer when my mother was in college she offered to transcribe his latest book, typing it before it would be sent to the publisher, and asked if she could divide some of his sentences for clarity. He trusted her enough to agree readily, and when it was published, one of the reviews said, “The most readable Carver yet!” Frankly, I have the same tendency, which is why I let my wife edit my devotions before they are posted as a blog. Not only does she catch typos, she also lets me know when I’ve written mud. God always knows what I mean, but if I’m sharing it with others, they need to be able to understand it too! This first chapter of Ephesians (which happened to be my grandfather’s favorite book in the Bible) is particularly notorious for long sentences, but thankfully this verse separates out fairly easily, and in a way it expresses the content of what is to follow. Here, the difficulty in understanding doesn’t come from the words used, or even the grammar, but rather from the magnitude of the truth expressed. We can’t grasp all that “every spiritual blessing” means, much less that those blessings are accomplished “in the heavenly realms!” Paul goes on from here to try to express some of those blessings, which is why the sentence gets so long and complicated. Our human minds really can’t wrap themselves around the magnitude of God’s love and grace toward us. He has to reveal that to our hearts, and only then do our minds have any hope of grasping it, though it is beyond words. Both Paul and Peter mentioned that what God does for us is beyond human words. (2 Corinthians 9:15, 1 Peter 1:8) One thing that helps is to remember that there’s always more. We may think we’ve been blessed incredibly, and we have, but there’s always more. That’s one reason this verse mentions heaven, because heaven is as infinite as God is, and the lack of limits is the very definition of infinity. The difficulty with all of this is that in our current, very finite condition, our gratitude and obedience don’t really keep up with all that God has done for us. As the chorus says, “All that I have, all that I am, all I will ever be, cannot repay this love-debt I owe. I surrender to Thee!”
I perhaps have a greater appreciation for God’s love and grace than many, but I am still struck with my own inability to respond fully. The point for me is to ask and allow the Holy Spirit to remind me, so that I won’t forget it in the press of this temporal life. As a pastor I seek to help others grasp more and more of the goodness of God, but there too I am dependent on the Holy Spirit. I am to keep speaking the truth in love at all times, and allow God to use His words through me to accomplish His will in the hearts and lives of those who receive those words.
Father, words indeed fail me to thank You enough for all that You have done for me in Christ. May every part of my being be a living sacrifice to You, (Romans 12:1) for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!