1 Thes.1:1 – From Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We send our greetings to you, the congregation of believers in Thessalonica, which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May God’s delightful grace and peace rest upon you.
Paul often began his letters with a reference to God’s grace. In the Passion Translation in today’s verse grace is described as “delightful grace”. Tasting the delightfulness of grace is really the beginning of our Christian experience. Grace is not a free pass to live a carnal lifestyle, far from it. Grace deals with the very heart of the deceptive and enslaving nature of sin because grace touches our heart, the seat of our emotions. Here is a quote from the Passion Notes on God’s grace.
“The usage of charis (grace) in ancient classical Greek carries the connotation of something that awakens joy and pleasure. The Greek concept of grace imparts delight, often attached to a strong emotional element. Paul uses the term grace as a joyous delight that rests upon the people of God.”
Grace awakens our joy and pleasure in God. Until grace frees us, the things of God are unappealing and repulsive. Grace enables us to taste the sweetness of the Lord. Here is how Augustine describes God’s liberating grace.
“During all those years [of rebellion], where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke? . . . How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! . . . You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves. . .”
Following the Lord is not our duty, it has become the passionate joy of our lives. Let’s be honest, our whole life has been a subtle pursuit of joy. It manifests itself in the pursuit of better wages to buy the things we need and enjoy. This pursuit is seen in our pursuit of pleasure in sports, career accomplishments, sex, alcohol consumption, and an endless list of other pleasures and vices. The strange thing about grace is that we don’t stop pursuing pleasure in life. If anything our pursuit has intensified. The proof that it is authentic is now we are pursuing joy in the Bible, in worship, or in Christian gatherings. God Himself has become our joy.