Greg Spires – Teaching Pastor
When a major holiday rolls around, you will find people gathered around the greeting card aisle looking for just the right card to give to someone. The idea is that when the celebration of that holiday rolls around, we want others to know that we were thinking of them. There is a sense of blessing conferred on others in these moments. We want the best for them. We want their celebrations to be full of joy and merriment.
These kinds of greetings are important because it is a way that we communicate how important others are in our lives. When greetings are passive and flippant, we know it and recognize it. For example, we might be standing in line to order coffee, and a person comes up and stands in line behind us.
“How ya’ doing?” they comment to us.
Most people know at that moment the person is simply being polite, and probably doesn’t want us to give them a 10-minute explanation of exactly how we’re doing.
When we read the greeting at the end of Philippians, we must understand this greeting wasn’t merely a flippant, yet polite, way to end the letter. Philippians 4:21-23 says, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
This greeting from Paul was a heartfelt recognition of how important the people of Philippi were to him. Like a son standing in the aisle of the greeting card store pulling card after card looking for just the right one for his mom on Mother’s Day, Paul is diligent in extending the warmest of greetings. He does this because of how deeply he cares for them.
First, the greeting is in Christ Jesus. That is, he wants to bless them because of what they have in common together – hope in Christ alone. His heart was warmed to know that what mattered most to him, also mattered most to them.
Second, he sent greetings from those in Caesar’s household. This was a deeply personal recognition of the challenges the church was facing. He wanted the church to know that not everyone in the Empire was against them. The church faced persecution from Roman authorities. However, Paul reminds them that there are many even in the Roman bureaucracy that have a higher allegiance to Jesus than to Rome. The people in Philippi weren’t the only ones under tremendous political pressure because of their faith – and the recognition of that commonality was meant to lift their hearts.
Finally, Paul blesses them with the hope of Grace in their spirit from Jesus. He hoped that in the stress and difficulty of suffering, they would know that Jesus’ grace is poured out on them. They won’t always get it right. They won’t always do the right thing. They won’t always have a good attitude. They won’t always have strong faith. But no matter what, the grace of Jesus reminds them, and us, that we are in Christ by faith, and He will never leave us.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit!
I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we celebrate the work of God in Jesus Christ together! This Sunday, we will be seeking God through His Word in Philippians 4:21-23.
See you Sunday,