First Things First

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2

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Grace. What a beautiful word, full of depth and meaning. There’s something about the way it flows from my heart and bubbles over with sweet joy from my lips. As I read Paul’s letter to the Philippians I have to believe he felt the same way. And just as some parents have chosen to name their newborn baby daughters after this lovely expression of gratitude and undeserved favor, I’d have to say the apostle is most well deserving to own it too.

In his salutation to the church at Philippi, Paul greets his readers with this most amazing blessing:

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2


Notice what’s first—grace. This word in the Greek is “charis”. It signifies favor, gift, benefit, even credit.

Paul knew it was the most important thing needed for the people he loved. Why? Because everything true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy flows from grace.

There have been times in my life where troubling circumstances have provoked fear and anxiety deep within me. Like a noose around my heart, worry threatened my sanity. I know I’m not alone in this. And I am ever grateful Paul was keenly aware of this battle for our minds. Not only was he inspired by the Spirit of Christ, who is all grace, but also by his own personal experience. Paul knew grace. He reveled in the glorious reality of grace more than he retreated into the raw reality of his problems.

On a good day, I’ve done this too. But not all days are good. And if God’s grace is abundant and abounding, why have I wrestled over what makes some hard days easy to endure and others painfully difficult?

I believe Paul has the answer.

There’s a word in the fourth chapter of Philippians that jumped out at me as I meditated on this most priceless word, “grace”— its “thanksgiving”.

Paul writes this:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

The word “thanksgiving” is the word “eucharista”. In the Greek it is “eucharistos”, eu, meaning “good” and the rest being a derivative of the word “charis”. Eucharistos—grateful for good grace.

Could it be that in those moments when I’ve struggled just to keep my head above the fierce waves of despair, I’ve forgotten to practice eucharista?

Paul exhorts us to put into practice whatever we’ve learned or received or heard from him. And we must. The peace of God is waiting to guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus if we only receive His good grace with great gratitude.

by Dana Lange