April 17, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Ephesians 1:17-20 (NRSV)
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.
When we are with the Lord in the age to come, we will receive a wonderful inheritance. But, even more amazing than this, God will receive us as a glorious inheritance. We will belong completely to God and God will delight in us as a treasure. What an inspiring and transformative thought! No wonder Paul prays that we might know it.
This devotion is part of the series: Why Easter Matters.
In yesterday’s devotion, I began considering Paul’s prayer that we might know “the riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance in among the saints.” I explained that the Greek original of verse 18 could be pointing to the amazing blessings that will one day be ours when we are with the Lord.
But the actual language of verse 18 suggests another interpretation, one that seems, at first, to be less wonderful than what we expected, but turns out to be even more glorious after all. The Greek phrase under consideration reads very literally, “[that you may know] what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance among the holy ones” (1:18). Now, “his inheritance” could mean, “the inheritance we will receive from God.” But the more natural interpretation of the language would be “the inheritance God will receive.” And what is this inheritance? We are! You and I and all of God’s people are God’s inheritance. What we learned in verse 11 about being God’s inheritance is reiterated here in verse 18. Paul prays that we know God, and in particular that we know we are God’s own inheritance.
At first, we might feel a bit deprived. You might be thinking, “What? You mean you shouldn’t know about the inheritance I will receive? Isn’t my inheritance from God glorious?” Yes, it is. And, yes, you will receive it. Don’t panic. But Ephesians 1:18, like verse 11, points to the fact that you and I are also part of God’s inheritance. Of course, in a very real sense, we already belong to God. But, when we finally stand in God’s presence, we will be fully God’s people. God will claim us as complete and delight in us fully.
Far from depriving us of hope, Paul’s prayer opens up a new perspective on our hope. Not only will we receive abundantly when we are with the Lord, but also we will belong to God in a whole new way. Moreover, God thinks of us as a glorious inheritance. What a wonder! As F.F. Bruce writes in his commentary on Ephesians 1:18, “That God should set a such high value on a community of sinners, rescued from perdition and still bearing too many traces of their former state, might well seem incredible were it not made clear that he sees them in Christ, as from the beginning he chose them in Christ.”
Because you are in Christ, God sees you as you will be in glory and is eager to receive you and your fellow believers as God’s own glorious inheritance. How amazing! No wonder Paul prays that we might know this as we come to know God better.
Have you ever thought of yourself as part of God’s glorious inheritance?
How might seeing yourself in this way change your life?
Set aside several minutes to reflect on the fact that you are part of God’s glorious inheritance. Consider how much you mean to God, how glad God is to inherit you. Let the truth of how much God values you sink in and touch your heart.
Gracious God, what an amazing thought! Not only will I one day inherit incomparable blessings, but also you will inherit your glorious people, including me. This isn’t some cheap self-help trick, some gimmick to make me feel better about myself. Rather, it is part of the truth about who you are and who I am in you.
Help me, Lord, to see myself today as part of your glorious inheritance. May this vision guide and empower me to live for you in every segment of my life. Amen.
Banner image by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash.
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: How to See with the Heart.
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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.