“Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”
Paul ends his letter to the Ephesians with a three-fold blessing: peace, love with faith, and grace.
Peace has been a theme of Ephesians. Paul wished peace for us, and he prays that we will experience peace. He is fully aware that the political and cultural climate in the Roman Empire was hostile to Christians. Paul himself is in prison in Rome when he writes this letter, so the external conditions were certainly not peaceful.
As we studied earlier in Ephesians, Paul is not talking about situational or circumstantial peace. Paul speaks here of the kind of peace that only comes “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is about God giving us clarity, courage, and calm in the midst of whatever circumstances we face.
Paul’s message to Timothy about godliness with contentment is one of the most important messages for the people of God:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6.6-10)
In this passage, the Lord teaches a paradox that lies at the heart of the Christian faith. There is great gain in trusting God and recognizing that we brought nothing into the world and take nothing out of the world.
Do you see the paradox—and truth—in this passage? Peace and contentment are not found in gaining wealth and the things of this world. Rather, our greatest gain is found in recognizing that we have nothing without the Lord. This was Jesus’ message to the disciples, and to us …
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?’” (Matthew 16.22-24)
In the kingdom of God, we gain the most when we die to self.