There’s a familiar lilt to the greeting, “Happy New Year!” that generates excitement and energy. In years past we have welcomed family and friends into our home to get a little crazy as we greet the New Year together.
This year was different. My husband and I had just returned from gathering with all 15 members of our family over Christmas break. We thought about inviting friends in to welcome the new year, but in the end my husband went to bed at 10:00 on New Years Eve and, just before midnight, I realized I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. So I crept up to bed and listened to fireworks being set off at a distance as I drifted off to sleep.
Since then I have greeted many family, friends, and even strangers with “Happy New Year”, not thinking much about it until yesterday . . . . Curious about where the greeting, “Grace and peace to you,” is recorded in the Bible, I looked it up online. What I discovered was that the Apostle Paul extended that greeting (in various forms) in every one of his letters recorded in the New Testament:
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . .”
“To the church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace and peace to you . . . .”
I Thessalonians 1:1
“To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father
and Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I Timothy 1:2
What stood out to me initially was the richness of Paul’s greeting, compared to the impersonal, almost generic quality of how we greet one another today. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wishing happiness to others. But compared to the richness of Paul’s extension of “grace and peace” (especially as it is founded in God the Father and Christ Jesus), Happy New Year” and “Happy Birthday” seem almost trite!
I decided to write about this because, as Christians, we can and should do better in choosing the words we speak because they matter before God:
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,
so that you may know how you ought to answer everybody.”
“Then we will no longer be infants . . . blown here and there
by every wind of teaching and by the cunning, craftiness of men . . . .
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become
in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Ephesians 4: 14, 15
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.”
I appreciate the way Paul reminds us of our ultimate responsibility before God:
“And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
II Corinthians 5: 19-20
As we enter this gift of a new year, my prayer is that as Ambassadors for Christ we will walk worthy of Him. To speak truth in love and to guard our hearts against anger and fear must be our priority. May His grace and His peace guide you, as you choose to love those He puts on your path with the same love He has invested in you.❤️
All to His Glory!