What is your greatest accomplishment ever? Chances are, whatever you achieved did not happen simply by your rolling out of bed in the morning. If we want to achieve something worthwhile in this life, it takes time and effort. Our discipleship to Christ is no different.
Read Colossians 1:28-29. Though Paul talks about God working in him, in what ways does he show the human effort also involved? See also Deuteronomy 4:4, Luke 13:24, 1 Corinthians 9:25, Hebrews 12:4.
In Colossians 1:29 there is a very interesting insight into the way Paul sees his relationship with God in this work. He says that he is struggling — but with the power of God.
The word for “labor” means to “grow weary,” to “work to the point of exhaustion.” This word was used particularly of athletes as they trained. The word for “struggle,” which comes next, can mean in some languages “to agonize.” So, we have the word picture of an athlete straining with everything to win. But then Paul adds a twist to the idea, because Paul is straining, not with everything he has, but with everything that God gives him. So we are left with a simple conclusion about Paul’s ministry — it was a ministry done with great personal effort and discipline, but done with God’s power. This relationship works in exactly the same way as we pursue the development of Christ’s character in us.
This is important to remember, because we live in a world in which we want more and more with less and less effort. That idea has crept into Christianity, too. Some Christian evangelists promise that if you just believe, the Holy Spirit will fall upon you with amazing supernatural power and perform great miracles. But this can be a dangerous half-truth, because it can lead people to the conclusion that we just need to wait for God’s power to come while sitting comfortably in our seats!
|What is your own experience with the kind of striving Paul talked about? What things has God laid upon your heart that you are struggling with? How can you learn to surrender to God’s will?|