Thursday, March 10, 2011

More than a Greeting: The Lord be with you

And behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem. And he said to the reapers, “The LORD be with you!” And they answered, “The LORD bless you.” (Ruth 2:4 ESV)
Tonight I read a chapter of Eric Bolger's Journey into Intercession. The chapter (Day 16 of The Old Testament Journey) references Eli's blessing of Elkanah and Hannah in 1 Samuel 2, where the priest says to them "May the LORD give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the LORD."

This simple blessing was a prayer, an intercession of Eli to God on behalf of these people. And God heard, answering Eli's request by blessing Elkanah and Hannah with three more sons and two daughters.

Bolger reflects on what the passage teaches Christians today, all of whom are called to be priests, as Eli was.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)
One of the primary duties of a priest is to intercede for his people before God. That is the calling of all who follow Christ. We are to walk in the steps of Him who is the Intercessor for the world.

As I read tonight's chapter, I felt ashamed. I have failed so utterly in this calling.

How often have I hurried to do for someone myself without asking God, who is far more able, to do for them?

How often have I doled out advice without praying God's guidance on someone?

The author continues to urge his readers to intercede for people in the seemingly small yet powerful way of blessing them. Scripture is full of examples of such speech, which often comes in the form of a greeting:
May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:2 ESV)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:2 ESV)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3-5 ESV)
Why do we settle for so many meaningless social greetings? Hey! Hello! What's up? How's it going? Why do we send people away with Goodbye instead of The Peace of the Lord be with you?

Why say nothing when we can give someone so much more than a greeting?

As for me, I want to remember who I am -- a priest of the Most High God. By the grace of the true Priest, may I speak as He would have me.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV)

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