Thursday, November 3, 2011

Salutations and Greetings of Peace

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

2 Timothy 1:2 

To Timothy, my dearly 
beloved son: 
Grace, mercy and peace, 
from God the Father and Christ 
Jesus our Lord.

Have you ever notice the greetings the beginning of the many letters in the New Testiment. It seems to be quite common to start a letter with an opening like the one in the verse above. Perhaps you just breeze past the greeting and move on to the meat of the letter. I have found that how people open, and end letters is often very important. What is the first thing you would say to a friend you had not seen in a very long time. How would you end a letter to that friend. I don't think these bible guys just tossed out these salutaions in a light manner. 2 Timothy 3:16 reminds us "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." I think it must be significant that all these letters the opening is about Grace, Mercy and Peace from God.
Here are a few other examples, there are probably more if you go hunting.

Philemon 1:3 (NIV1984)
 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Titus1:4 (NIV1984)
 4 To Titus, my true son in our common faith:
   Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

1Thessalonians 1:1 Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 

2 Corinthians1:2 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus  Christ.
The Hebrew word associated with peace is Shalom. I thought this definition was interesting. "One meaning is "Whole", another could be the actual verb "Pay" usually in command form. The conjugated verb has other spins that are worth noting, such as: "Hishtalem" meaning "it was worth it" or "Shulam" as "it was paid for" or "Meshulam" as in "paid in advance." Hence one can jokingly say that, "when it's paid-for then there is peace," as in PEACE HAS A PRICE." 

So what jumps out at me in the quote above found at Wikipedai is we become whole when we accept that Jesus has paid the price, that He is worth it, that He paid in advance. We we come to that realization of what He has done for us it takes us to a whole new understanding of peace.

It strikes me that it not just the writers aim to just lightly wish Grace, Mercy and Peace upon the reader. It reads to me more like they are imparting some sort of blessing. Genesis 12:3 says "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Jesus when he first sent out the disciples told them not to take any thing with them and to go into a town and find a place to stay. If they were treated well they were to cause peace to remain upon the house. If they were treated poorly they were to shake the dust from there feet as they were leaving.  This blessing of peace seems to be a bigger deal that perhaps we have understood.

I generally walk in a pretty high level of peace and when I am disturbed it is a sign to me that something is out of order. The other night I was troubled about a number of things it was late and I needed to go to bed. I realized I was just laying there worrying - which I have found to not be a very fruitful activity. So I got up and went to the other room to pray for a while. I one by one, talked to the Lord about the things that were troubling me. I admitted that I really did'nt know what He was wanting me to do but that my heart was to do things His way. When I don't know how to pray, I often pray in my prayer language. Nothing in my circumstances changed - what did change was my troubled spirit found rest and peace in God the Father. The following day I was pretty sure what things I needed to adjust. I took care of those things and God's peace returned. I think peace is a great indicatior of the Holy Spirits leading. In Isaiah 55:12 it says "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace;"
It is one of the indicators that I look for in deciding the direction to proceed. Quite often I will wear and idea for a while to determine the level of peace within it. Granted you can't always tell everything - many things do require a step of faith to be taken at some point. When I wear an idea its kind of like trying on clothes to find one that is the right fit for me. It could be a lovely out fit on someone else but it may look hiddious on me. Which is why we try on clothes before we buy them.  The mirror or the opinion of a friend is often helpful at such time.

When I hold up my spiritual mirror is the what is reflecing back to me the peace of the Lord? Do the people around me measure and feel my peace or are they having to deal with me being all stressed out.  I have learned make myself sensitive to shifts in my level of peace and to quickly take what is concerning me directly to the Lord.

I think the writers of these letters are letting us know up front some things that are very important that should become more and more evident in the lives of believers. Over and over they list three things Grace, Mercy and Peace.  They are I think deserving of a little deeper digging to descover if they might contain some deeper insight that has gotten lost in translation or due to the changes of culture.

"The Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

I would have to agree with Martin Luther King Jr.  I think we can fall in to the decieving peace of complacency when we should be moved to action. To be at peace does not imply that one must be a door mat and let everyone walk all over you. Roosevelt was famous for saying "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far," Which reminds me of the movie Sahara when the enemy looks like they have won but then the battle turns and the heros think it is their own puny efforts that have somehow changed the tide. They come out cheering the victory until they turn around to see they have been backed up by a massive army lined up on the ridge above them.  God is like that for us. The enemy would love to have us be continually harried and harrassed. We can think that we have won the battle on our own until we turn around and realized it is God who has had our back in the spritual battle.

I would love to hear some of your insights on this subject. You can e-mail me directly at or post a coment below. Thanks for reading and following along.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for your peace. Let it rest upon us now. Help us to gain a greater understanding of what the concept of Shalom or Peace is in your mind. Your ways are so much higher than ours. So lead us Lord to discover some treasure in regards to this idea of peace as we go through our day.

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