Grace Be With You!
by James Smith, 1860
The last words of a venerable friend, or endeared relative, are always remembered and prized. More especially so, if remarkable for wisdom, usefulness, and moral excellence. Dying sayings, are often precious sayings, profitable sayings. How do we prize the last note, dictated by the dying tongue, or written with the dying hand, of one to whom we are laid under deep obligation, and who has become peculiarly endeared to us. These thoughts have been suggested by Paul's last letter to Timothy, especially by the few last words, most probably the last he ever wrote. His heart full of affection and wisdom, breathes out its most enlarged desire, as he writes, "Grace be with you!" 2 Timothy 4:22.
Here was Paul the aged, being now nearly seventy years of age, worn-out with labors and sufferings in the cause of Christ, just about to depart to go unto his Master. He was an old Christian — for many years he had known, trusted, and loved the Savior. He was an old servant — he had labored long and hard in his Master's service — and he was just about to leave the vineyard and enter into the rest. He was an old soldier — who had fought many a battle, conquered many a foe, and won honor to his Sovereign's name — and he was leaving the battle-field, to go home. He was in spirit, and soon was to be in fact, a martyr — sealing his testimony with his blood, and confirming the truth of his testimony, by laying down his life in its defense. He was, to Timothy, a father, a spiritual father, full of holy, earnest, paternal love; and as his last legacy, as his best blessing, as he is about laying aside his pen forever, he sighs out from the bottom of his heart, "Grace be with you!"
Timothy was, compared with Paul, a young man, and a young Christian. He had done good service in the Lord's cause — but there was much more for him to do yet. He also had fought many battles — but he had yet many more to fight. He was a witness for Christ, a preacher of the everlasting gospel, and Paul's own son in the faith. He would need much from God, because he had much to do for God. Well did Paul know this, from his own experience — and yet all that he could desire for his beloved Timothy, to meet his case, to fit him for duty, for suffering, and for death, is included in that word, "Grace." Therefore he says, "Grace be with you!"
In wishing grace to be with him — he wished him courage, for grace inspires the soul with fortitude, boldness and courage. So that where there is much grace, there is little fear, and no cowardice. A man with much grace can face any foe, meet any difficulty, dare any amount of suffering, and come off victorious.
He wished him also strength, for grace strengthens us in the inner man. Paul had prayed to be delivered from the great trial of his life, the thorn in the flesh, and after much importunity, the Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." In the strength of grace we can perform any duty, carry every cross, and conquer every foe.
He wished him also wisdom, for grace makes us wise. Wise to choose our work. Wise to select our means. Wise to perceive our opportunities. Wise to seek above all things — to please our master. Grace, taking the form of wisdom, is pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and of good fruits.
He wished him also spirituality, for grace spiritualizes, refines, and purifies all the powers of the soul. It fits us to approach to God, qualifies us to commune with God — and prepares us to dwell with God. Grace, spiritualizing us, enables us to discern clearly, to act wisely, and to persevere in the Lord's work and way, until discharged honorably.
He wished him also comfort, for grace comforts all that are cast down. It has strong cordials for the sick, sweet consolations for the discouraged, and glad tidings for those who are of heavy hearts. The comforts that grace brings us, are pure from the fountain, and free as the air.
He wished him also success in his work, and all success is from grace. Hence Paul speaking of his own work, sufferings, and success said, "Not I — but the grace of God that was with me."
Grace will give us courage to face every foe, strength to do the will of God from the heart, wisdom to do and suffer whatever God appoints in a befitting temper; spirituality to raise us above earth and fit us for heaven, comfort in all times of grief and trouble; and success in all we undertake for the Lord's glory — the great thing we need therefore is "grace."
Sinner, grace can save you. No matter what you have been, or what you are now — grace can save you. You may be saved by grace — but you cannot be saved in any other way. From my heart I say, "Grace be with you!"
Grace will convince you of sin, strip you of self, lead you to the Savior, pardon all your sins, justify your person, sanctify your nature, supply all your needs, and conduct you safely to glory! Come then, to the throne of grace, there plead for grace, and you shall unquestionably obtain grace.
Believer, grace can support you, deliver you, and make you all you desire to be. There is a fullness of grace in Jesus. That fullness is open to you — open for you. Come to it then and receive grace upon grace. Grace to qualify you for every duty. Grace to sanctify to you every trial. Grace to enable you to face every foe. Grace to make you a conqueror, and more than a conqueror in life, and to fill you with joy, peace, and triumph in death.
Grace is the best thing that God can give us, since he has given us his Son. In asking for grace, therefore, we ask for God's best gift. But there is nothing that God is so willing to give, as grace. Gifts we may pervert. Temporal things puff us up, and make us vain, worldly, and careless. But grace will humble us, make us like Jesus, and fit us either to live or die. In giving grace — God gives us all things in one. It comprises all we need now, or ever shall need. It comprehends the substance of all that God has given, or promised to give. It is stored up in Christ. It is to be sought as a favor. It may be obtained by the vilest. Those who have any, may have more — for God is never weary of giving, if we are not weary of asking or receiving.
Whatever grace has made others, it can make us. Let us not then envy any, or look with a jealous eye on any — but let us realize our need of grace, believe in God's willingness to give grace, come boldly to the throne of grace, and as directed by the Apostle, "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." Beloved reader, whoever you are, for you, as Paul for his beloved son Timothy, I desire grace; and to you in closing I say from the bottom of my heart, "Grace be with you!"