November 10, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — 1 Thessalonians 5:28
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
God’s grace makes all the difference in the world. As we receive God’s amazing, limitless grace for ourselves, we are enabled to extend that grace to others. Christians, of all people, should be marked by amazing grace in the way we relate to others.
This devotion is part of the series: Encouragement from 1 Thessalonians.
The letter we know as 1 Thessalonians ends much as it began. In the opening verse of the letter, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy greet the assembly of Christians in Thessalonica: “Grace to you and peace” (1:1). The letter’s last verse states, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (5:28). If you worry that peace has been left out, remember that five verses earlier God was identified as “the God of peace” (5:23). Grace shows up as the final wish prayer of the letter writers. They want the Thessalonian believers to experience the grace that comes from God through Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, the word “grace” doesn’t appear elsewhere in 1 Thessalonians, other than in the first and last verses. That’s not to say that the idea of God’s grace through Christ is absent from this letter. If you read between the lines, you can find grace almost everywhere (especially in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 2:7-12; 3:9-12; 4:1, 9-10, 17-18; 5:9-11, 16-18, 23-24).
What is grace? Grace is undeserved favor. It’s being given something we have not earned. Grace is unmerited kindness. In particular, grace is God acting to save us in Christ and, we must remember, to mend the broken world in which we live.
Though Paul and his colleagues don’t speak in depth about grace in 1 Thessalonians, you can find much more on grace in Paul’s other letters. Ephesians, for example, shows us that God’s “glorious grace” has been “freely bestowed on us [by God] in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). We have “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of [God’s] grace” (1:7). God will one day “show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (2:7). But, even now, we have experienced the riches of grace because “by grace [we] have been saved through faith, and this is not [our] own doing; it is the gift of God” (2:8).
It’s fitting to begin and end with grace because grace makes all the difference in the world. By grace, God saves us and calls us into a life of purpose. By grace, we know that we are loved by a God whose love will never let us go. By grace at work in our hearts, we are able to extend grace to others.
The failure of Christians to treat others graciously is one of life’s mysteries and tragedies. It just doesn’t make sense for us, having received God’s limitless grace in Christ, to fail to extend that grace to other people. When Christians are judgmental, critical, mean, uncaring, and unjust, it is utterly baffling. Well, sort of baffling, I should say. Why? Because there are times when I have not been gracious to others even though I have received God’s grace in my life more times than I can count, most of all when I was first saved by God.
Though Paul and his co-writers don’t use the word “grace” very often in 1 Thessalonians, this letter shows how grace transforms us. What grace did in the lives of the Thessalonians is what grace can do in our lives as well. For example, it enabled the believers in Thessalonica to “turn from idols to God, to serve and living a true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Grace enabled Paul and his colleagues to refrain from abusing their authority, but rather to be gentle and kind among their converts, acting like a nurturing mother and an encouraging father (1:8-12). Grace enabled the Thessalonian Christians to abound in faith and love (3:6; 4:9-10). Grace enabled them to live so as “to please God” (4:1). Grace enabled the Thessalonians to grieve when they lost loved ones to death, but to do so with confident hope in the future resurrection (4:13-18). And grace would, in time, guarantee that the Thessalonians would be fully dedicated to God, completely whole and free from sin when Christ returns (5:23-24).
I can think of no better way to conclude this series of devotions based on 1 Thessalonians than by quoting the final verse of the letter: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” And, yes, I mean you. May you have a fresh, transforming, and truly encouraging encounter with God’s grace, lavished on you through Christ. Yes, indeed!
How have you experienced God’s grace in your life?
Why do you think that sometimes Christians are terribly grace-less with other people?
What helps you to be gracious in your relationships with others?
Take some time to think about whether you are extending the grace of Christ to others in your life at work, at home, in your neighborhood, at church, and beyond.
Gracious God, you are rich in grace, grace beyond all measure, grace lavished upon us, grace given most of all through Jesus Christ. Thank you, dear Lord, for treating us with unmerited favor and undeserved kindness.
As I have received your grace and as I continue to receive it each day, help me, Lord, to be gracious to others. Help me especially, I pray, to be gracious with those who try my patience, whose lifestyle bugs me, whose politics or religion isn’t like my own. May the memory of your grace in my life consistently inspire me to be gracious. And may you receive the glory! Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Grace and Peace.
Subscribe to Life for Leaders
Sign up to receive a Life for Leaders devotional each day in your inbox. It’s free to subscribe and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.