Good morning, and a most blessed Thursday to you! Today in our time of devotion together we are going to talk about greetings, and what we are attempting to communicate through the words and expressions we use in our greetings. For example, I just said “Good morning”. Hopefully you know that as I come to you, I greet you this morning communicating with you the eagerness I have to share God's Word with you… the eagerness that I have knowing that in just a few moments we get to pray together… and then the eagerness knowing that in just a few days, we get to worship together in the house of the Lord.
So how do you greet people? Are you one that gives a “howdy” or a “hey”. Do you wave? Do you nod? Buenos Dias? Good morning, or maybe you do the “sup”. No matter how we greet someone, we always have a purpose for it.
Today I want to look at some of the greetings that the Apostle Paul uses. What we find is a very familiar phraseology, or a couple of words that pop up in his greetings. In his letters he greets the person or the church to which he writes by name. Then he gives a special greeting..
He wrote to the Philippians: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
To the church in Ephesus he wrote: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."
To Titus he wrote: “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.”
To Philemon he wrote: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Can you see the common theme that runs throughout Paul's greetings? “Grace and peace.” “Grace and peace.” And what a wonderful greeting this is to greet the beloved church, and his beloved saints among whom he served. “Grace and peace.”
But when Paul wrote to Timothy he adds another word. “To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
He still greeted Timothy with the grace and the peace of God the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he adds the word “mercy”. We know that Paul had a very close relationship with Timothy. Perhaps he wanted to add something extra for Timothy because of their close relationship. Or perhaps he was trying to remind Timothy of the call that he had, and the endurance that was necessary to walk-out that call. Perhaps Paul wanted Timothy to receive, and to be washed in the mercy, along with the grace and the peace from the Lord.
I think that Timothy probably had a difficult road to walk. Paul often writes to him about not being discouraged because he's young, and making sure that he sticks to the doctrine that he knows, and not to be discouraged because Paul was being persecuted and beaten. He encourages Timothy to stand firm, and to remain firm.
And we read in the 2 Timothy 4:1-2:
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2 proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage with the utmost patience in teaching.”
I wonder how difficult it was for Timothy to share the gospel, and walk-out the very serious call from the Lord upon his life, as a good steward and proclaimer of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I wonder if that is why Paul adds the word “mercy” to his greeting. I wonder if Timothy needed that extra kindness from Paul, as a fatherly figure and beloved mentor can only give. Paul was reminding him that he goes forth not only by the grace and peace of God, but also knowing fully the mercy of God that has claimed him for eternal life, and has placed him in a position to proclaim the good news everywhere. It's not easy for young people to stand firm in faith and in sound doctrine, when their elders are trying to keep them down, or their peers are mocking them or putting pressure to them. Timothy needed that extra loving word from Paul. And Paul certainly was ready to greet him with it.
How do we greet those around us? How do we greet our brothers and sisters at church? How do we greet our family when they come home from work, or school, or play? How do we greet the person at the grocery store, or the neighbor across the street? What are we trying to communicate to them about our feelings for them, our relationship with them, and our relationship with the Lord?
We are called to be proclaimers of His Word. I hope that the rest of this week you get to greet many people with the loving Word of the Lord, and that you enjoy the opportunity to greet with grace, mercy, and peace.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, we thank you for calling us as witnesses to lovingly proclaim your good news to our neighbors. To proclaim to them your grace, your mercy, and your peace to rule our hearts. Lord, we ask that we would go forth the rest of this week looking for those opportunities to let people know that they are greeted in the Lord, and that they are loved by you, and by your family. Lord, we lift this all up to you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
I look forward to worshiping with you in just a few days, and to greeting you with a big smile.