Paul begins most of his epistles—his letters to the churches he founded around Asia Minor—with this greeting, “Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It’s always the same two words—grace and peace. What’s so important about these two words? Why not a blessing of love and patience instead? Or kindness and perseverance?
What’s so special about grace and peace?
Grace and peace are the antidotes for our two greatest sin habits—pride and anxiety. Pride shouts, “I’m in control! I’m the master of my own destiny! I can and will manage things myself, thank you very much!” Grace, on the other hand, acknowledges God as my master and recognizes every good thing is a blessing from his hand. Changing my paradigm from “I’m in control” to “God’s in control” releases the stranglehold of pride from my life, allowing God’s grace to freely flow through me.
Our other great sin habit, anxiety, echoes concerns—real and imagined—in our minds like a soundtrack on repeat. Anxiety blocks the way to peace. Without the blessing—the grace—of peace, we can remain hopelessly locked in a cycle of worry.
Paul isn’t the only apostle to recognize these as the two biggies that trip us up time after time. Concluding his first epistle (1 Peter 5:5-9), Peter warns against pride and anxiety, telling his readers both to humble themselves, because God is opposed the proud, and to cast all their anxiety on God, because God loves them. Peter tells us exactly why these are such dangerous sin habits to fall into: “Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a hungry lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Peter knows a thing or two about being tripped up by pride and anxiety. On the night Jesus was betrayed, Peter allows his pride to control him when he declares he would never deny his Lord. Just hours later, consumed by anxiety for his own safety, he denies Jesus not once, but three times. Satan looks for these two habits in particular—pride and anxiety—to trip us up and lock us in sin.
But Jesus never leaves us without hope. He offers us grace to tear down our pride, and peace to disrupt our anxious thoughts. Will you release your desire for control to him today, accepting his hand of grace on your life and welcoming the peace that he so freely gives?