I have the feeling today is going to be a good day as I slip on one of my favorite shirts. The soft cotton is a comfort, and its warm, dusty rose color makes me feel just a little more lovely. My favorite part though, is what the shirt says on the front in beautiful white lettering: “Everything is grace.” It’s a quotation attributed to Saint Therese of Lisieux. The sentiment is sweet at first sight, and seemingly quite simple, but the depth of meaning is far beyond that. Today’s First Reading from Ephesians (2:1-10) brings us to the heart of these words with great clarity.
Now, I know I have read this reading before, as Ephesians happens to be one of my favorite books in the Bible, but when I read the words this time, sisters, the Holy Spirit gave me a fresh experience of God’s Living Word, and it blew me away. I found myself positively bowled over by God’s goodness and mercy and love for each one of us. This line stood out in particular: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Our salvation is a gift. The most generous, selfless, lavish gift we will ever be given. Out of His abundant love for us, we have been presented with “the immeasurable riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:7). Sisters, this is profound beyond words. Have you truly received the knowledge of this tender gift from the Lord deep within your heart and soul? It changes everything.
The nature of the gift strikes me: it is “not from works” or because we have done something to acquire it, but rather “for the good works that God has prepared in advance” (Ephesians 2:9-10). Our salvation is not earned, but freely given. It can be hard to really comprehend, particularly living in a society where so much value is placed on working to achieve a goal, a society where busyness is seen as equivalent to success. It simply is not so in the Kingdom of God. Instead, we are given grace without reserve, that we might go forth, building the Kingdom and inviting others to know Jesus. For this great gift is not for us alone.
The beauty and riches Saint Paul speaks of in his Letter to the Ephesians must be in part what Jesus meant in today’s Gospel when He spoke of being “rich in what matters to God” (Luke 12:21). Let us set our eyes on eternal life, sisters. Let us place our hope in the great gift of our salvation. For this gift is everything. Everything is grace.
Find some time to spend in prayer with today’s First Reading, Ephesians 2:1-10. Read the Scripture slowly, leaving room for the Spirit to move and inspire your Christian imagination. Allow the Lord to show you the depths of the beauty of this promise. Rest in His abundant love for you.
Elise Howe is a devoted wife, momma, vocal artist and teacher. She currently resides in New York City, though she will always be a Midwestern gal at heart. Elise has a heart for ministry, dark chocolate (but not too dark) and coffee with a generous amount of cream + sugar. Find out more about her here.