9. A Grace-Filled Way of Life (Luke 6:27-28; Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 5:5-7)


Audio (39:41)

Detail from Venetia Epler (1912-2005), 'Jesus and the Children'
Detail from Venetia Epler (1912-2005), 'Jesus and the Children'

We've considered how grace saves us and keeps us, equips and empowers us for ministry. But it remains to explore how we are to live out God's grace in our daily lives. What should grace look like in us?

The Organizing Principle of Grace

If I were to ask you: What is the basic principle, the organizing ethos of Christianity, you would probably answer, "Love." And I would agree. Two chief commandments: Love God, love your neighbor.

I want to put a slight twist on that. It's hard to show grace towards God, just because he is deserving of everything. Granted. But I believe that showing grace to others, especially to the undeserving, is the essence of God's relationship to us. In the same way, showing grace to others, especially to the undeserving, ought to be the organizing principle of our lives.

Philosophers and theologians talk about ethical behavior in a very thought-through sense. And that is good. But Jesus goes beyond ethical, appropriate behavior, to radically grace-filled actions that amaze us.

9.1 Jesus Demands Grace-Filled Living

In Lesson 3, we examined Jesus, the Son who is full of grace and truth. Jesus sets the tone for grace among his disciples. In Lesson 3.4, we examined his parables on grace. In Lesson 3.5, we looked at his actions toward people that exhibit his grace. Here, let's consider Jesus' specific teachings about how to treat others.

The Golden Rule of Grace (Matthew 7:12)

The reason that Jesus is considered radical is because he integrates grace -- favor to the undeserving -- into his whole life purpose, lifestyle, and teaching to his disciples. Let's consider the Golden Rule.

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

This isn't a brand new statement. Something similar to the Golden Rule can be found in nearly every ethical tradition.252

"That which you hate to be done to you, do not do to another." (Egyptian papyrus, 645-323 BC)

"One should never do something to others that one would regard as an injury to one's own self." (Sanskrit, Mahābhārata)

"Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing." -- Thales, Greek philosopher 624-546 BC)253

Notice that all these are negative -- what not to do. Seneca comes closest to Jesus.

"Treat your inferior as you would wish your superior to treat you." -- Seneca, Stoic philosopher (4 BC-65 AD)

Nevertheless, Jesus' Golden Rule is helpful for us to sort out our actions toward others. Notice that the Golden Rule doesn't teach us to do something to someone only if they do it to you (reciprocity). Rather, Jesus teaches us to do to others what you would like them to do to you if you were in their situation. It helps us check our love-level towards a person. It helps us to look for ways to bless a person, to do good to them.

No, it is similar to what others have thought. But now Jesus begins to get radical about grace.

Radical Grace towards Enemies (Luke 6:27-28)

The Golden Rule in Luke's Gospel is set in the midst of the so-called Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20-49) in the context of love towards enemies -- those who least deserve goodwill from us. We noted this in Lesson 3.3, but let's go deeper. Here are Jesus' radical commands to his disciples

"27 But I tell you who hear me:
Love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you."254 (Luke 6:27-28)

Differentiating Ethics and Grace

It is important to realize that Jesus is not teaching ethics here, what is the proper or moral or just thing to do in a situation.255 Ethics, ethical behavior is important. Don't get me wrong. But Jesus isn't teaching ethical behavior here. He is teaching grace -- showing favor to those who deserve nothing at all from us. People who may actually deserve punishment for their evil actions.

Who is your enemy? The neighbor who despises you. The nasty church member who gossips. The person who resents your righteous living since it shows up his unrighteousness by contrast. Perhaps a brother or sister with whom you have had a falling out that has never healed.

Jesus tells us in Luke 6:27-28 that we are to (1) love them, (2) do good to them, (3) bless them, and (4) pray for them. That's radical grace! The sort of grace God extends towards us "while we were yet sinners" (Romans 5:8).

Examples of Radical Grace (Luke 6:29)

Now Jesus begins to get specific. Again, this is radical grace -- way beyond ethics!

"If someone strikes you on one cheek,
turn to him the other also.
If someone takes your cloak,
do not stop him from taking your tunic." (Luke 6:29)

Is Jesus saying to never defend yourself or your family against attack or to never lock your door to prevent thieves from robbing you? Is he suggesting that we should aid thieves by advertising when we are not at home? No. This is not an ethical statement, a teaching of passivism.

Rather, Jesus is giving examples of what radical grace towards your worst enemies would look like! Surprise those who assault you with unexpected and undeserving love!

Undeserved Generosity (Luke 6:30-35)

People don't expect generosity. Jesus tells us to surprise them with unexpected, undeserved liberality.

"30 Give to everyone who asks you,
and if anyone takes what belongs to you,
do not demand it back.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you." (Luke 6:30-31)

Now Jesus makes crystal clear that he is not talking about reciprocity, where one good turn deserves another. He is talking about out-of-the-ordinary grace that is never practiced by "sinners."

"32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full." (Luke 6:32-34)

Even sinners reciprocate good deeds. It's just common sense living in community with others. But Jesus calls us to a higher standard. A radical standard of grace. God's own standard.

"But love your enemies,
do good to them, and
lend to them without expecting to get anything back." (Luke 6:35a)

Jesus is back to enemies again -- the very people that most folks would despise in return. Remember, we Jesus-followers are called to grace, to favor towards the undeserving. To be people who give some money to help when our enemy is hurting, not once expecting them to reciprocate. Grace isn't about reciprocation. It is about favor to those who deserve it least

Overcoming Evil with Good (Romans 12:19-21)

Revenge is reciprocity, what is deserved, what is expected when someone hurts you. Grace repays evil with blessing. Shower your needy enemy with grace. It will astonish him. Paul explains how to show love for enemies.

"19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord.256 20 On the contrary:
'If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.'257
21
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:19--21)

Showing grace with God's help allows us to overcome evil!

The Father's Value System (Luke 6:35b-36)

Now Jesus reminds us that this kind of radical grace reflects the Father's value system.

"35b Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." (Luke 6:35b-36)

Do you want to be like Jesus? Like the Father? Then show radical grace when least expected. Random acts of kindness without choosing a worthy recipient. Mercy. Grace. Love. That is what motivates Jesus. That is why the Father sent his only begotten Son.

Q35. (Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:12-21) What is the difference between ethical behavior and grace? What is so radical about Jesus' teaching about loving one's enemies? What illustrations does he use of this outrageous grace?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/2171-q35-ethics-and-grace/

9.2 Grace-Filled Conversations

Grace-filled living is not only for our actions, but for our words as well. Paul and Peter have a lot to say about what grace-giving speech looks like in practice.

Conversation that is Full of Grace (Colossians 4:5-6)

Consider what the Apostle Paul says about conversations with "outsiders," those outside the Christian community, the kind of people you might want to shun, to suspect, to consider potential enemies.

"5 Be wise in the way you act258 toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation259 be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:5-6)

You've probably seen Christians act in outrageous ways around unbelievers, in ways that might make you want to crawl in a hole and disappear. That is why Paul calls for practical wisdom.260 Paul tells us to literally "redeem the time" (KJV). What does that mean? The phrase uses two words.

  • "Opportunity" (NIV), "time" (KJV, ESV, NRSV) is kairos, a word that carries the idea here of "favorable time, opportunity."261
  • "Make the most of" (NIV, NRSV), "make the best use of" (ESV), "redeeming" (KJV) is exagorazō. The basic meaning is "deliver, liberate," but a figurative sense used here is "to gain something," especially advantage or opportunity, "make the most of."262

The NIV translation catches the sense well: "Make the most of every opportunity." Paul tells us to take full advantage of every opportunity we are given in conversing with those who don't know Christ. We are to be full of grace. In Ephesians a similar exhortation is followed by a reason: "because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16).

The phrase "full of grace" (NIV), "gracious" (NRSV), "grace" (KJV) points to the key concept underlying our conversations. "Grace" (charis) is by now a familiar word to us -- "favor" that is expressed by the giver of his own will, without any need for the recipient to respond in kind, that is, undeserved favor. But in this context, charis probably bears a widely used meaning in common Greek, "a winning quality or attractiveness that invites a favorable reaction, graciousness, attractiveness, charm, winsomeness." For example, the same word is used in Luke 4:22 to describe Jesus' "gracious words."

To understand what this is, contrast loving, open, friendly speech with an attitude and words that are perceived by non-Christian neighbors as being:

Defensive Hard Condescending
Legalistic Holier-than-thou Critical
Cold Naive Manipulative
Pushy Negative Judgmental
Uncaring Selfish Ungracious

So often the worldly caricature of "born again" Christians is negative, the opposite of Paul's expression "full of grace" or "gracious." We are called to be gracious in our speech toward outsiders. How much more to our family and the family of faith!

Next, we find the phrase "seasoned with salt." In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the figure of saltiness in the context of witness (Matthew 5:13), emphasizing salt's tastiness, its flavor, the way it gives just the right tang to food to make it exquisite to the palate.263

Grace and love are the unique tang of our testimony if we are Jesus-followers. So often we try to blend in with a tasteless and insipid world. No! We have a unique, radical flavor of grace that the world needs -- and is desperate for, if they can recognize it as genuine and not self-serving.

Paul's instruction concludes with the phrase, "so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Gentleness and Respect (1 Peter 3:15)

Peter said it this way:

"Always be prepared to give an answer264 to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...." (1 Peter 3:15)

We would like, of course, to be able to answer questions about Christianity with a thorough knowledge of the Bible, to stun our critics by the force of our logic and apologetics training that enables us to field any question.

But the point of Paul's and Peter's counsel to us is two-fold:

  1. Willingness to seize the opportunities God gives; don't be silent.
  2. Be gracious and gentle in your reply.

"Gentleness and respect" should be our hallmark, not a quick answer that says that we know better and won't listen. Sometimes, when we feel we need to resist someone, we tense up and become brittle and defensive in our response. Rather, ask God to help you to be "gentle" in your reply. The Greek word suggests gentleness, humility, courtesy, considerateness.265

We are also to show respect or reverence266 before our adversaries. This is hard if we despise them. But if we love them -- with God's help -- perhaps we can show graciousness from the heart. When even enemies see grace and love in the face of their attack it can surprise and disarm them.

Building Others Up (Ephesians 4:29-32)

While we look at how to show grace in our conversation, we don't want to miss Paul's wonderful counsel.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

Paul shows a contrast in verse 29. The word translated "unwholesome" comes from a word used to describe spoiled fish or rotten fruit.267 Stinking with decay. The alternative he suggests are words intended to bless and build up the hearer, to bring benefit to them. That sounds very much like grace and an act of grace. Acting without grace offends God's Spirit within us.

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

Paul's list of anti-gracious speech is convicting. In our homes especially we can fall into horrible speech habits with family members when we have arguments.

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." (Ephesians 4:31)

These are all too familiar.

In contrast we see what grace pours out -- love and forgiveness, even if our opponents don't deserve it.

"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:32)

Notice that Paul concludes by reminding us to be like Jesus, to emulate the grace he shows toward us, even though we don't deserve it.

The Peace that Grace Brings (1 Peter 3:8-9)

Peter gives us a glimpse of what Christian community looks like when brothers and sisters take care to lead with grace rather than their selfish old nature.

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony268 with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9)

  • How do you live in harmony? By showing grace! We see words that have often appeared close-by grace.

  • Sympathy (sympathēs) suggests putting ourselves in another's place, feeling their emotions. Sympathy is the opposite of selfishness and self-centeredness.269
  • Affection for brothers and sisters (philadelphos) The adjective describes the kind of love experienced in the family circle.270
  • Compassion (eusplanchnos). The Greek adjective suggests deep inner feelings for a person, a heart-tenderness.271
  • Humility (tapeinophrōn). The word suggests voluntarily taking a lower place,272 like Jesus did at the Last Supper when he took on the role of a slave washing the disciples' feet. The world may look on humility as weakness, but they are wrong. Love and grace triumph over all. Believe it!

You may have heard people -- even prominent people -- who believe in replying to every criticism with an insult. How contrary to grace! What a bad practice to avoid!

"Do not repay evil273 with evil or insult274 with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:9)

Jesus taught us that loving our enemies is the greatest example of being "sons of the Most High" (Luke 6:35b-36). We can be spewers of hatred or we can be out-pourers of grace. God, fill us with grace!

Q36. (Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:8-9, 15; Ephesians 4:29-32) What would be the characteristics of a conversation with an unbeliever that might be termed "full of grace"? What guidelines should rule our ways of speaking? How can we avoid the bad examples set for us by leaders of our culture and our world?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/2172-q36-full-of-grace/

9.3 Grace and Generosity (2 Corinthians 8:6-9)

John describes Jesus as "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14), and that "from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16).

I can't imagine someone who is crammed full of grace being stingy, and only giving out tiny portions of grace at a time. No, if you are full of grace you are free with blessings. There is no end of your grace, so you are characterized by two English words:

  • Generous, "liberal in giving, open-handed; marked by abundance or ample portions; characterized by a noble or kindly spirit, magnanimous, kindly."
  • Liberal, "marked by generosity, open-handed."275

The Generous Man Plans Big (Isaiah 32:8)

Isaiah praises "the noble man."

"The noble man makes noble plans,
and by noble deeds he stands." (Isaiah 32:8, NIV)

The root of the Hebrew word for "noble" connotes "an uncompelled and free movement of the will unto divine service or sacrifice."276 The noun refers to "one who is generous, noble."277 So NKJV appropriately translates the verse:

"A generous man devises generous things,
And by generosity he shall stand." (Isaiah 32:8, NKJV, cf. NLT)

Some people are small and tight-fisted, cheap, begrudging any contribution to help others. This comes from a sense of self-interest, fear of not having enough. But I don't see Jesus that way. He was full of grace and generous with his blessings.

Grace in us requires a generosity of spirit!

The Grace of Financial Giving (2 Corinthians 8:1-9; 9:6-8)

Paul explicitly links grace with generous giving in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians. The churches in Jerusalem and Judea were poor and Paul seeks to bring a substantial financial gift from the Gentile churches when he goes to Jerusalem.278

"1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God (charis) that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity (aplotēs279) on their part.

3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor (charis)280 of taking part in the relief of the saints -- 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace (charis). 7 But as you excel in everything -- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you -- see that you excel in this act of grace (charis) also.

8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace (charis) of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:1-9, ESV)

"And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift (charis) to Jerusalem." (1 Corinthians 16:3, ESV)

Paul comes back to the topic of the collection for the saints in 2 Corinthians chapter 9, where grace used in a slightly different way.

"6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly281 will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously282 will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly283 or under compulsion,284 for God loves a cheerful285 giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace (charis) abound286 to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

Apparently, showing the grace of generosity towards others releases God's grace in you even further so you have enough yourself -- and enough to give once again. It reminds me of God's promise of extravagant generosity towards those who tithe (Malachi 3:10-11). We're no longer under the Law, but the same principle of multiplication applies.

This also sounds like what Jesus was talking about with respect to what generosity unlocks.

"Forgive287 and you shall be forgiven;
Give288 and it shall be given unto you,
A good measure,289
pressed down,
shaken together and
running over,
will be poured into your lap.
For with the measure you use,290
it will be measured291 to you." (Luke 6:37-38)

Jesus isn't teaching you reap what you sow, tit for tat. He is saying when you give, what you receive will be so much more -- overflowing, like the windows of heaven opening and pouring out more grace than you can understand.

Lots of sermons have been preached from these texts during Stewardship Sunday in churches all over the world. And with good reason. There is a key here. Of course, the prosperity gospel preachers have exploited people by twisting these texts, but that doesn't invalidate their truth.

Grace Illustrates God's Generosity

Let's go back to a passage we just looked at.

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:1-9, ESV)

Paul directly ties God's generosity to his gracious act of sending Christ to die on the cross for our sins and thus be the atoning sacrifice that sets us free. Paul hints that the Father sending the Son wasn't something trivial -- a trifle thrown to the poor in the streets. No, by sending his Son, the Father became "poor."

God expects generosity from us. That is how grace should change us. Has grace changed your greed to generosity, my friend? "Freely you have received. Freely give" (Matthew 10:8b).

Q37. (2 Corinthians 9:6-9; 8:9; Luke 6:37-38) Is it possible to be grace-filled and stingy at the same time? Why is this so? What is the relationship between forgiving and giving generously?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/2173-q37-generosity/

9.4 Grace to the Humble (1 Peter 5:5-7)

As we wind down our study of grace, let's look at a passage targeted at congregational leaders, but with general application as well. It comes from Peter, the once pushy, braggadocios leader of the disciples, now softened and seasoned by years walking with the Lord.

Submission to Elders (1 Peter 5:5a)

In verses 1-4, Peter has admonished the elders themselves to lead gently, unselfishly. Now he speaks to those under their charge.

"Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older." (1 Peter 5:5a)

Peter commands Christians in the church to "be submissive" (NIV), "submit yourselves" (KJV), "be subject to" (ESV), "accept the authority of" (NRSV) the elders. This is the Greek verb hypotassō, "subject oneself, be subjected or subordinated, obey."292

Humility for Elders (1 Peter 5:5b-6)

Even though elders have spiritual authority which must be recognized and submitted to (Hebrews 13:7, 17), elders aren't to become proud because they have this authority. Peter calls all his readers to mutual humility, quoting Proverbs 3:34:

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility293 toward one another, because,
'God opposes294 the proud295
but gives grace296 to the humble.'297
Humble298 yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." (1 Peter 5:5b-6)

Humility is to be worn like a garment -- we are to "clothe" ourselves with it!299 When we begin the day and dress, we must also be careful to put on an attitude of humility. Jesus described himself as "gentle300 and humble301 in heart" (Matthew 11:28). We desire to be like our Master, Jesus.

The quotation from Proverbs 3:34 is heavy stuff. If we cling to our pride, God promises to oppose us. Frankly, I don't want to be on the wrong side of God, to have Him for the opposition. Rather, I long for his grace. But to receive grace I must be humble, receptive, for it is a gift.

And as you live in humility, you'll receive more and more of the grace of God that is priceless. May God's grace and anointing rest on you all your life as you walk humbly with your God!

Q38. (1 Peter 5:5-6) Why is prideful living incompatible with showing grace? Why do you think God opposes the proud? What does humility have to do with repentance to enable us to receive God's grace? How does pride prevent us from showing grace?
http://www.joyfulheart.com/forums/topic/2174-q38-humility/

9.5 Salutations and Benedictions

Grace was often on the apostles' lips in their letters and in the way they greeted God's people and took their leave. The Greeks would commonly greet people with the word "grace." But the apostles would combine grace with peace (shalom), the characteristic word of greeting used by Jews.

Nearly every New Testament epistle begins with a grace greeting. Paul typically opened his letters with the greeting:

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ."302

The Hebrew word shalom was typically present in the salutations, but absent in the formulaic conclusions to letters. But grace was nearly always mentioned, often quite simply, but occasionally in more elaborate benedictions.

"Grace be with you."303

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit."304

Perhaps Paul's three-fold benediction in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians is the most fulsome:

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

My prayer for you, my Christian friend, is that the grace of our Lord will be with you and in you so fully that you will leak grace to everyone who comes in contact with you. Grace, that favor of God that is neither earned nor deserved. Grant it, Lord. Amen.

Lessons for Disciples

The New Testament is rich in teaching us how to live grace-filled lives.

  1. The organizing principle of Christianity is love, which is another way of saying grace.
  2. Though the Golden Rule has occasionally been stated negatively, Jesus formulated it to capsulize the teachings of the Law and the prophets -- to do to others what you would have them do to you (Matthew 7:12).
  3. Jesus' teaching on love for enemies is not ethical teaching -- what is the proper, just, or moral thing to do in a situation. Rather, Jesus teaches radical grace toward undeserving enemies (Luke 6:27-28).
  4. Jesus' examples of radical grace in the face of attack are not given to teach the ethics of passivism, but of undeserving grace (Luke 6:29)
  5. Unexpected, undeserved generosity is an expression of grace, in contrast to reciprocity (Luke 6:30-34).
  6. Paul teaches us not to take revenge, but to overcome evil with good. Grace repays evil with blessing (Romans 12:19-21).
  7. By showing grace we become true sons of our heavenly Father and adopt his value system of grace and mercy (Luke 6:35-36)
  8. Grace should be shown in our conversations, especially with those who are not Christians. We are to treat them with gentleness and respect (Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15)
  9. Our words should build up others and benefit them, that is, show grace to them. Especially we are to be kind and forgive, like God forgives us (Ephesians 4:29-32).
  10. We are to love, show compassion and humility, rather than return insult for insult (1 Peter 3:8-9).
  11. Grace includes a generosity and liberality of spirit (2 Corinthians 9:6-9)
  12. Just as Jesus was rich and became poor for our sakes, so we should be generous to the poor (2 Corinthians 8:9).
  13. As we forgive freely and give freely, God will forgive us and bless us (Luke 6:37-38).
  14. We are to live humbly, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).
  15. Nearly every New Testament letter begins with a greeting of grace and peace, and concludes with a benediction of God's grace.

Prayer


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Father, the world sees Christians as judgmental hypocrites. Help us to be changed on the inside so that we ooze grace towards unbelievers as well as believers, our enemies and those in our family. Let us show the world what Jesus showed -- grace! In his holy name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12, NIV)

"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back." (Luke 6:27-35a, NIV)

"Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:19--21, NIV)

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." (Colossians 4:5-6, NIV)

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...." (1 Peter 3:15, NIV)

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:29-32, NIV)

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." (1 Peter 3:8-9)

"We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, or in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints -- and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything -- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you -- see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." (2 Corinthians 8:1-9, ESV)

"And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem." (1 Corinthians 16:3, ESV)

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

"Forgive and ye shall be forgiven; Give and it shall be given unto you, A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." (Luke 6:37-38, NIV)

"Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.' Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time." (1 Peter 5:5-6, NIV)

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

End Notes

References and Abbreviations

[252] R.J. Wyatt, "Golden Rule," ISBE 2:523.

[253] Quoted in Wikipedia article, "Golden Rule."

[254] Notice the Hebrew synoptic parallelism of Jesus' teaching that is still retained in the Greek translation.

[255] "Ethical" means "conforming to accepted standards of conduct" (Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary). The Wikipedia article on "Ethics" begins, "Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior" (Wikipedia, "ethics," retrieved 28 Sep 2022).

[256] Quoting Deuteronomy 32:35a.

[257] Quoting Proverbs 25:21-22.

[258] "Act" (NIV), conduct (NRSV), "walk" (ESV, KJV) is peripateō, literally, "to walk about," then, by extension, "to conduct one's life, comport oneself, behave, live as habit of conduct" (BDAG 803, 2aα).

[259] "Conversation" (NIV), "speech" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is logos, "word, of utterance, chiefly oral" (BDAG 599, 1a).

[260] Sophia, "the capacity to understand and function accordingly, wisdom" (BDAG 934, 1bα).

[261] Kairos means "a point of time or period of time, time, period," frequently with implication of being especially fit for something, here "a moment or period as especially appropriate, the right, proper, favorable time" or "opportunity" (BDAG 497, 1b). The other primary Greek word for time is chronos, from which we get our English word "chronology," is used more to express sequential or chronological time.

[262] Exagorazō, BDAG 343, 2.

[263] For a deeper explanation of Jesus' use of the figure of salt, see my exposition of Matthew 5:13 in Sermon on the Mount: The Jesus Manifesto (JesusWalk Publications, 2008), Lesson 2 (www.jesuswalk.com/manifesto/2_witness.htm).

[264] "Give an answer" (NIV, KJV), "make a defense" (ESV, NRSV) is apologia (from which we get "apologetics"), "the act of making a defense" (BDAG 117, 2b).

[265] "Gentleness" (ESV, NIV, NRSV), "meekness" (KJV) is prautēs, "the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of one's self-importance, 'gentleness, humility, courtesy, considerateness, meekness' in the older favorable sense" (BDAG 861).

[266] "Respect" (NIV, ESV), "reverence" (NRSV, NASB), "fear" (KJV) is phobos, "fear," here, "reverence, respect," the kind of respect we would accord to officials, or those over us (BDAG 1062, 2bβ).

[267] The word "unwholesome" (NIV, NASB), "evil" (NRSV), "corrupt" (KJV), "corrupting" (ESV) is Greek sapros. The basic meaning is "spoiled, rotten," used literally of spoiled fish, decayed trees, rotten fruits, and stones that are unsound or crumbling. Figuratively, it means "bad, evil, unwholesome to the extent of being harmful" (BDAG 913).

[268] The phrases translated "live in harmony" (NIV), "all of one mind" (KJV), "have unity of spirit" (NRSV), "have unity of mind" (ESV) is the Greek compound adjective homophrōn, "pertaining to being like-minded, united in spirit, harmonious" (from homos, "common" + phrēn, "thinking") (BDAG 709-710).

[269] "Be sympathetic" (NIV; NRSV), "sympathy" (ESV), "having compassion one of another" (KJV) translate the Greek adjective sympathēs, "sympathetic, understanding."[269] This word was originally used for one who has the same pathos, "suffering," "one who is affected like another by the same sufferings, impressions, emotions," or "who suffers, experiences the same as another." Only later it developed the meaning, "one who has fellow-feeling, sympathy with another" (BDAG 958).

[270] "Love as brothers" (NIV, KJV), "brotherly love" (ESV), "love for one another" (NRSV) is the Greek adjective philadelphos, "loving one's brother/sister." In the New Testament the word means, "having affection for an associate, having brotherly love, having mutual affection" (BDAG 1055).

[271] "Be compassionate" (NIV), "be pitiful" (KJV), "a tender heart" (NRSV, ESV) is the Greek adjective eusplanchnos, "pertaining to having tender feelings for someone, tenderhearted, compassionate" (BDAG 413). The root splanchna refers to the "inward parts, entrails, hence as the seat of emotion, the heart" (Hans-Helmut Esser, "Mercy," NIDNTT 2:599-601).

[272] "Humble" (NIV), "humble mind" (NRSV), "courteous" (KJV) is the Greek adjective tapeinophrōn, "humble, modest" (BDAG 989), "humble-minded" (Thayer 614). The basic idea of the root tapeinos in Classical Greek is "below," low, in comparison with that which is above or higher. In Classical Greek the word was used in the sense to demean oneself, usually in a derogatory sense. In the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, however, the term begins to be used in a more positive light -- humble, modest vs. proud, insolent, arrogant. Members of the word group are used 34 times in the New Testament in a positive sense (Hans-Helmut Esser, "Humility," NIDNTT 2:256-264).

[273] "Evil" is kakos, "pertaining to being socially or morally reprehensible, bad, evil," here, perhaps "evil, harm wrong" (BDAG 501, 1 and 3).

[274] "Insult" (NIV), "railing" (KJV), and "abuse" (NRSV), "reviling" (ESV) is the Greek noun loidoria, "speech that is highly insulting, abuse, reproach, reviling" (BDAG 602).

[275] Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary.

[276] Leonard J. Coppes, nādab, TWOT #1299.

[277] Nādîb, Holladay 229.

[278] Galatians 2:10; Acts 11:30; 21:17.

[279] "Generosity" (ESV, NIV, NRSV), "liberality" (KJV) is the adjective aplotēs, "simple goodness, sincere concern," or "generosity, liberality" (Romans 12:8, 2 Corinthians 8:2; 9:11, 13) (BDAG 104, 2).

[280] "Privilege" (NIV, NRSV, NJB), "favor" (ESV, NASB), "gift" (KJV) is Greek charis. Grace is used with the Church's gift to the poor saints a few verses later. in a similar way, speaking of "the surpassing grace God has given you" (2 Corinthians 9:14).

[281] "Sparingly" is pheidomenōs, "in a scanty or meager manner, sparingly" (BDAG 105).

[282] "Generously" (NIV), "bountifully" (NRSV, ESV, KJV) is two words, epi, "upon" and eulogia, "blessing," here, "generous gift, bounty" (BDAG 409, 4).

[283] "Reluctantly" (NIV, NRSV, ESV), "grudgingly" (KJV) is two words, ek, "out of" and lypē, "sorrow," here, "reluctantly" (BDAG 605).

[284] "Under compulsion" (NIV), "of necessity" (KJV) is two words, ek, "out of" and anankē, "necessity or constraint as inherent in the nature of things, necessity, pressure" of any kind, a divine dispensation, some hoped-for advantage, custom, duty, etc. (BDAG 60, 1).

[285] "Cheerful" is hilaros, "pertaining to being full of cheer, cheerful, glad, happy" (BDAG 473).

[286] "Abound" (NIV, ESV, KJV), "in abundance" (NRSV) is perisseuō, "to be in abundance, abound," here "be more than enough, be left over" (BDAG 805, 1aα).

[287] Apoluō, "set free, release, pardon," (BAGD 96).

[288] Didōmi, "give, grant, bestow, impart" (BAGD 192-193).

[289] Metron, "measure, an instrument for measuring" (BAGD 515).

[290] Metreō, "measure, give out, deal out, apportion" (BAGD 514).

[291] Antimetreō, "measure in return" (BAGD 75).

[292] Aorist middle/passive imperative of hypotassō (BDAG 1042, 1bβ).

[293] "Humility" is the Greek noun tapeinophrosynē, "humility, modesty" (BDAG 989).

[294] "Opposes" (NIV, NRSV), "resists" (KJV) is the Greek verb antitassō, "oppose, resist," from anti, "opposite, against" + tasso, "put, place" (BDAG 90).

[295] "Proud" is the Greek adjective hyperēphanos, "arrogant, haughty, proud" (BDAG 1033).

[296] "Grace" in Proverbs 3:34 that Peter is quoting is ḥēn, "favor, grace" (that we studied in Lesson 1.2). In 1 Peter 5:5b it is the Greek noun charis, that we have seen many times now (BDAG 1079).

[297] The adjective tapeinos, "to be of low social status," then "unpretentious, humble" (BDAG 989, 3).

[298] The verb tapeinoō in verse 6, "to cause to be or become humble in attitude, humble, make humble" (BDAG 990, 3)

[299] "Clothe yourselves" is the Greek verb enkomboomai, "to put or tie something on oneself, put on," from en + kombos, "band" (BDAG 274).

[300] Praus, "gentle, humble, considerate, meek' in the older favorable sense (BDAG 862).

[301] Tapeinos, "pertaining to being unpretentious, humble" (BDAG 989, 3).

[302] Romans 1:7b; 1 Corinthians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2; Philippians 1:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Timothy 1:2b; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4; Philemon 3. Only occasionally he would vary a bit -- "Grace and peace to you from God our Father." (Colossians 1:2). "Grace and peace to you." (1 Thessalonians 1:1b). Peter had a similar greeting. "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2). John's greetings were similar. "Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, will be with us in truth and love" (2 John 3). "Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne" (Revelation 1:4).

[303] Colossians 4:18c; 1 Timothy 6:21b; 2 Timothy 4:22; Titus 3:15; Hebrews 13:25. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you" (1 Thessalonians 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:18; Romans 16:20). "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people" (Revelation 22:21).

[304] Galatians 6:18; Philippians 4:23; Philemon 25. "Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love" (Ephesians 6:24). "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).

Copyright © 2022, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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