Benediction; February 24, 2020

2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

I have no idea how many times I have spoken this benediction, but it is still meaningful every time. Unpacked, the meaning is very deep indeed. In the first place, grace is absolutely central to everything, because we don’t deserve any of the good stuff God provides for us. I often say that without God’s grace we can’t take a single breath, because it’s true. Jesus exemplified grace, because there was no reason for Him personally to become a human being and live our life with us, much less go to the cross and take our death on Himself. That is amazing grace indeed! Speaking out that grace is an appropriate benediction, because the moment I fail to extend God’s grace to others, I step out of it myself. That’s what Jesus was talking about when He followed up the Lord’s Prayer with saying that if we fail to forgive, we won’t be forgiven. (Matthew 6:14-15) Then we get to the love of God, which motivates the grace that allows us to exist. When I speak this benediction I specify, “Father God,” because in Japan it can be very confusing which god you are speaking of. Some people have sadly not experienced the love of their human father, but our Creator is very much the Father of us all, and His love is absolutely perfect, if our hearts are open to receive it. Finally we have mention of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Here too I embellish slightly, specifying “intimate fellowship.” That’s because for so many people the Holy Spirit is simply an abstract concept, something they accept in theory but not as part of their daily lives. We need to discover that the Holy Spirit is indeed Immanuel, God with us, in a fellowship that is more intimate than that of a husband and wife. When we experience that, it colors everything else, giving it all tints of heaven. Those who have been to heaven and come back say that the colors there are beyond anything we experience on earth, and walking in step, in fellowship with the Holy Spirit can help us see heaven on earth, quite literally. All of this makes this an appropriate benediction indeed, something we should desire for everyone we meet, because it will transform their lives as nothing else ever could.

As I speak this benediction over others, I need to be careful to walk in it myself. Particularly with something this familiar, it’s easy to just say the words and be done with it, rather than letting those words operate in my own heart and mind. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I need constantly to be aware of the Father’s love and the fact that everything I have and am is because of grace. I’m not there 100% yet! I still get caught in traps of the enemy, being self-centered and losing sight of what is true and good. Being aware of my own foolishness should keep me humble and allow me to transmit the grace, love, and fellowship God provides to me, to those around me for our mutual blessing.

Father, thank You for this reminder. This morning I snapped at my wife and opened a door of attack by the enemy against her and against me. I ask Your forgiveness and cleansing, that we may stand together against the enemy on every front, based on our full submission to You, so that he may indeed flee and Your plans be manifested in our life, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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