As Paul closes his second letter to the Corinthian believers, he leaves them with these instructions. “Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words. Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT

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The first instruction in the list is to be joyful. True joy does not come from circumstances, but from our relationship with Jesus Christ. Thus, we can be joyful even in difficult situations, because our joy is in the One Who never changes.

Paul recognizes that the new life in Christ is real life– with a new birth, a period as “babes in Christ”, and a time of growing into mature children of God. And his exhortation to the churches was to not remain children forever, but to actively grow and mature in Christ.

Most of us who are Christians also interact regularly with other Christians. Here, we are told to encourage one another, and to live in harmony and peace. And, as wonderful as this sounds, it can only be brought about by the work of God in our hearts, and our willingness for Him to change us into His image.

With these closing instructions, however comes the promise; “The God of Love and Peace will be with you.” And that is what makes everything worthwhile. As Paul wrote earlier in this letter, God says “My Grace is all you need.”  We need God’s grace every step of the way, and His grace is equal to every situation– truly, His grace is all we need.

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