Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 2 Timothy 1:2
If we are not careful, it becomes easy to dismiss certain portions of Scripture as being less important than others. Especially when reading the epistles, we tend to consider the first few verses to be merely introductory. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable..."
Rather than simply offering the standard “grace and peace” greeting common in those days, Paul wished for Timothy something far deeper than that. Used in the New Testament sense, grace is God’s unmerited favor that provides its receiver with a desire and power to do God’s will.
So many times our young people lack desire to serve God, or they sense a frustrating inability to accomplish His purpose for their lives. They need grace! More than any lesson I can teach or motivational speech I can deliver, my young people need for God’s Holy Spirit to do a work of grace within their hearts.
When is the last time you prayed for God’s grace to rest upon someone you love? How often do you communicate to others your desire for them to be the recipients of God’s richest blessings—not simply temporary physical blessings—like that of grace?
No one has the consistent inner drive or the outward natural resources to maintain a walk with God or to please Him day by day. No one. In fact, we are all in need of God’s empowering grace. Only grace is greater than our sins. Only grace can pardon and cleanse within. Grace hath brought me safe thus far, and only grace will lead me home.
Where human effort fails and leaves behind it frustration, grace emerges victorious and produces peace. Peace is the settled inward assurance of God’s control, in spite of what circumstances say otherwise. Grace makes it available. Maybe that’s the reason that the term peace always follows the word grace. She is the byproduct of grace.
Teenagers live in tumultuous times. Tornado-like winds of temptation howl about them. The billowing waves of peer pressure, divorce, and humanistic philosophy at times crash over them. They need to realize that a relationship with Jesus Christ, with a subsequent access to the grace and peace that only He can provide, is the only protection in such spiritually inclement times.
To these two terms (grace and peace—Paul’s standard greeting), Paul added the term mercy. To Titus and Timothy, his preacher boys, Paul expressed his passion for them to be the recipients of God’s mercy.
Sometimes a young preacher can erroneously think that somehow he deserves God’s favor or in some way has achieved a higher station of Christian experience than others. To the contrary, we need for God to show us His mercy. If the truth were fully told, each one of us would admit that we need God’s mercy. We need for God to withhold from us that which we legitimately deserve due to our own sinful behavior and pride. Without God’s mercy, we would all be in pretty sad shape!
Do you wish for your teenagers God’s mercy? Or are you typically praying for God to zap a special lightning bolt upon their rebellious life? Paul was careful to let Timothy know of his desire for God’s blessings—including God’s mercy—to rest upon him.
Sometimes we are so enraptured with the idea of “connecting with teenagers” that we center our conversations on everything but the truly substantive spiritual topics they need. We “relate” by speaking intelligently about sports, video games, cartoons, etc. But do we ever go down the road of heart-to-heart, spiritual conversation with our young people?