To have the reputation of being a faithful person is certainly a very good recommendation for any person to have. To be “faithful in Christ Jesus” takes one’s reputation to a much higher level than just being one who can be trusted. This does not means that these saints were just set apart for God’s use, but they were trusted by God to carry out His divine intentions. What makes this high calling possible to frail mortal men? Two things at least, and doubtless there are more. Grace and peace. Grace is God’s free favor that gives and maintains that which we need, without making demands that we cannot fulfill.
An interesting comment on grace was made by God to His servant, Paul, who had been suffering for quite some time with a “thorn in the flesh.” That thorn was in danger of being the focal point of his daily life and had the potential of affecting his service for the Lord. Like a thorn pricking into our body makes every other activity or point of interest take second place to the pain, our bodies are all directed by our nerve endings to the object of our discomfort rather than the responsibilities we have been given to accomplish. Everything in a person’s life is put on hold until the offending thorn is removed. But for His own sovereign reason, God did not allow this cause of discomfort to be removed from Paul. Why not? Because God’s grace had to be demonstrated as sufficient for the task before him no matter what discomfort it caused. No matter what we may think needs to be done for us, we have to submit to the will of God and say honestly, “Thy grace is sufficient for me.”
It is common for us to think strength is necessary for effective service. However, that is not so in all cases. In this experience of Paul’s, God’s strength was what was needed, not his. God’s strength was able to be best demonstrated by the weakness of the servant, not his strength. That is contrary to what our expectations are. God wanted His grace to be evident in the Ephesian believers so there would be on-going evidence of God as Father, and Jesus as Lord, both to the saints in Ephesus, and to those to whom they would bear witness of God’s grace. There is a graciousness that is seen when the people of God appreciate the grace that has been shown to us. A merciful, compassionate attitude, coupled with gracious acts of kindness are of great value when we represent our God where we live and work.
Another valuable characteristic of God’s people that has a lasting impact on those who observe the lives of individual Christians and the local assemblies of God’s people who gather in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, is peace. A condition of calmness of spirit promotes words and conversations that are free from discord. The state of being peaceful indicates we are free from the strife that produces unrest and may lead to bitterness. When there is harmony in one’s own soul, spirit and body, that produces harmony in our interaction with other people. The Lord Jesus was at peace in Himself and with His Father, even though wherever He went there was turmoil and opposition around Him and from other people. He has left us His peace so we can demonstrate the power of God to those around us who live in a tumultuous world where there is “no peace saith my God to the wicked.”
The Source of both grace and peace comes from the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. These divine Persons who have said they would be with us, and the Spirit of God who is within us, makes it possible for us to rise above, and live above the effects of the conflicts and antagonism that is all around us. When we practice the presence of God, and obey what He instructs us to do, we will learn experimentally the fact that “great peace have they who love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them (be a stumbling block to them).” More than that is the fact that grace and peace are multiplied to us through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. How good it is to know that our standing is secure in both the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is working on our behalf to keep our state to be what it should be.