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Personal Grace

Colossians 4:18
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. (NIV)

When Christ takes hold of a person's life many things change. The grace of God stimulates a different perspective. For Paul in prison, although his body was chained, his heart was free. Prison walls used by God's grace removed other distractions so that he could focus his prayer and teach by writing. And his interest was not just for people he knew. Paul had never been to Colossae but, having heard about the church there, he had taken them to his heart and to the Lord in prayer. That is a mark of grace, to pray with loving desire for those you have never met.
Paul's letters were dictated. But here he 'signs off' with his own personal greeting. Although he had never met his readers, he was in a personal relationship with them. Like Paul, they were equally children of the same Heavenly Father and therefore his brothers and sisters in Christ. Although he was their Apostle and teacher he was not puffed up with his own importance, but accepted his vulnerability and was willing to ask for their prayers. Although he was in great need himself, his benediction was that God's grace would provide for their need.
God's grace does not stop at saving us from hell; it is also His transforming grace through life. When our relationship with God is renewed, so is our view of ourselves, and other people. We no longer see through self-centred eyes but we start to see everything through the lens of Christ. His purpose becomes ours, we share His desires and we love the people in whom His grace is operating. That is the true measure of spiritual maturity: use it to assess your progress in the Christian life, especially if you are a leader or teacher. So, let God's grace take hold of you and work in you. When you do, it will not only be a blessing to yourself, but also to many others!

Gracious God, my loving Heavenly Father. Thank You for Your grace. I do not deserve Your favour but You lavish Your love on me. Forgive me for resisting Your grace by focussing on my selfish ambitions, and ignoring my responsibility to receive from You so that I may have an overflow to pass on to others. Help me to value the way my circumstances restrict me so that I can concentrate on what is important to You, and how I can be a blessing to others for Christ's sake. In His Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams