The story goes that James Carville, one of Bill Clinton’s chief political strategists during the 1992 presidential campaign, had a sign placed over his desk in their Little Rock, Arkansas headquarters. Apparently Mister Carville got fed up answering campaign volunteers’ questions about the main theme of the campaign. Seems it was abundantly obvious to Carville and anybody who couldn’t see it was, well … an idiot. The sign read, “IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!” Sheesh, you’d think seven years after Madonna strutted out as the “Material Girl,” that people would understand the bottom line! Then add to that the rise of the “prosperity gospel” with its ‘name it and claim it’ theology. Abundantly obvious - It’s about profit. It’s about gain. It’s about the glory of riches.
Even the city of Ephesus in Paul’s day knew this. A meteor falls into its lap, so they build a temple around it; the biggest temple in the ancient world. (Because it’s all about quantity.) They call the thing that fell from the sky a goddess from heaven and personify her as a huntress with a hundred breasts. (Because it’s all about abundant provision.) The merchants have it made; especially the silversmiths with their renderings of goddess Artemis. They've got their temple economy with the glory of its riches.
But the Christians knew differently. The Christians in Ephesus didn’t revel in the glory of its riches. They reveled in the riches of God’s glory! The words ‘glory’ and ‘glorious’ appear five times in today’s passage. I think Paul uses that word on purpose for all the people who might be dazzled by the shiny abundance of the silver-carved deities. Paul wants to up the brilliance; ‘Saints, the blessings and purposes and person of God outshine all of it!’
And we are co-heirs with the Ephesian Christians. We have every spiritual blessing. We are adopted children of God. We are forgiven of sin. We are clued in to the mystery of His will. We are marked and sealed with the Holy Spirit to guarantee our divine inheritance. We are beneficiaries of His incomparably great power. Way more is abundantly provided for us than was accumulated by the acolytes of Artemis. Who is magnificently endowed? Christ’s church is!
Moreover, the riches of God’s glorious grace were set apart for us before the creation of the universe. Even as the means of our lavish gifts was set apart from the foundation of the world. He was slain from the foundation of the world. “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … has freely given us in the One He loves … redemption through His blood …. in accordance with the riches of …grace.” It’s true. GRACE does stand for -- God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!
Pray: Generous, magnificent God, thank you for making Your glory and our blessing your first priorities. Thank you for helping us see that our spiritual inheritance is far and away the better riches. Material wealth is uncertain and fleeting, but abundant Christian living is secured by the power that raised Christ from the dead! May I honor You and steward it all to the praise of Your glory.