Signing-off with “Peace & Joy”

peace_joy

Email signatures are a little like fingerprints … identifying marks that distinguish us from others. Using one became a habit for me several years ago. Changing them annually aids my daily walk with Jesus … Here are reasons for why and how:

One year I signed off with Abide in the Vine … to remind of Jesus’ repeated commands and promises in John 15.

Another year it was Embrace God’s Grace … a necessary, ongoing, daily activity … not exclusive to when we first profess allegiance to Christ.

Grace & Truth emerged one year as a way to express my desire to live a balanced Christian life. The Bible uses both words liberally to paint a detailed picture of God’s character.

  • The primary Hebrew word for grace in the Old Testament [חֵן or chen] means “favor, charm, elegance or acceptance.” It occurs scores of times, along with other Hebrew synonyms, adding other nuances.
  • In the New Testament, [χάρις or charis] is the most frequently used Greek word, occurring 159 times. Depending on the context, the term may be translated as “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, good-will, loving-kindness or favor.”
  • On the other hand, Truth in the Hebrew [אֱמֶת or ’emeth – 127x in O.T.], defines “firmness, faithfulness, sureness, reliability, stability or perpetuity.” The complementary Greek term in the N.T. [ἀλήθεια or alētheia] describes that which is “free from pretense, simulation, falsehood or deceit.”
  • More significant still are the two times the apostle John combines “grace and truth” (John 1:14, 17) to describe Jesus … the Word made flesh … Immanuel … God with us!

Just this past year my email signature was one word … Shalom! … but what does that word mean? … is it Hebrew slang for “peace out”? … hardly! Although we typically think of shalom as a synonym for peace, or the absence of conflict, the Bible paints a fuller, more detailed picture. Those close to me know just how tumultuous 2016 was personally. God knew that I needed daily reminders of His shalom!

  • The word derives from a verb meaning to be complete, perfect and full. According to Strong’s Concordance, shalom [שלום] occurs 242x in the O.T. Depending on the context, the term may be translated as “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, or harmony,” along with the absence of agitation or discord.
  • One of the most profound blessings ever pronounced in all of Scripture is what God commanded Moses to say about the nation of Israel:
  • “The LORD bless you, and keep you; the LORD make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you, and give you shalom.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

For this new year of 2017 my email signature is Peace & Joy … admittedly a follow-up to Shalom, although there’s much more behind it. Isaiah chapter 55 is full of great promises and truths, including these two words, Peace & Joy.

  • “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters …” (v. 1)
  • “Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live.” (v. 3)
  • “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.” (v. 6)
  • “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (vv. 8-9)
  • “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding for which I sent it.” (vv. 10-11)

And then comes the wonderful imagery of verse 12

“For you will go out with JOY, and be led forth with PEACE. The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands!”

Based on the consistent teaching of the New Testament, I have intentionally changed the order, for true joy in the Christian life emanates from the peace bestowed on us through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension.

So, how does the simple gesture of personalizing email correspondence aid my daily walk with Jesus? When I type a signature to conclude an email, I’m intentionally doing two things:

  • I am reminding myself of these biblical realities at work in my own life; and …
  • I am purposefully passing along these same realities to whoever receives my message.

Proverbs 18:21 indicates that life or death are in the power of the tongue. Whenever we employ words like grace, truth, shalom, or joy, we are speaking into someone’s life all the wonderful things that these biblical terms mean!

When you receive an email from me this year signed with Peace & Joy, be encouraged, be blessed, and be filled with …

Peace & Joy!

~ tr

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