COLOSSIANS 1:29: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: There is a “paradox” of grace in the Christian life. When we think of grace we think of God’s action toward us. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Jesus showed His love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, He died for us. We are saved by grace through faith, it is a gift of God, not earned by our works, so that no one can boast. In all of these examples, grace is the action of God reaching down to man when he was not expecting it, undeserving of it, and unable to embrace it.
So what is the “paradox” of grace? This same love, that we did not expect, we did not deserve, and we were totally unable to embrace – has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit when we received Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. This opened us up to a new dimension of grace, which is – “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. Paul puts it this way.
“…Of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:25-27 ESV
A “mystery” is something that is veiled and cannot be known – unless there is an unveiling, a revelation. It is like a great statue that is covered with a drape. You can see some aspects of its’ shape, but you are unable to know what is under the drape, until the drape is removed. When the drape is removed, and you are face to face with the statue, you must respond in some way. You will either admire it, or you will dislike it. Revelation always requires a response.
This is the “paradox” of grace. Through God’s Grace we have been given a revelation of the mystery that had once been hidden for ages and generations. This revelation is that, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ now lives in our hearts. His desire is to change our lives from our broken sinful past into His transforming life and glory. This does not happen without our participation. We must respond to His grace. We have two choices. We can look upon HIs Grace and simply do nothing. In essence this is moving back toward our old life. Or – we can look upon His Grace and respond to His power working in us with humble obedience. This is what Paul is saying in this verse and what he also exhorted the Philippian believers to do.
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13 ESV
God is working in us. He desires to change our lives, heal us, empower us, and transform us. Yet, it does not happen until we respond to His Grace. We must “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling”. To use the analogy of a car – the tank is full of gas, the keys are in our hands, everything has been given to us – yet, we will not get anywhere until we get into the car, put the keys in the ignition, start the engine, and begin to drive. In all of this we are not “earning” anything – we are simply responding “to”, and employing “what” has been given to us freely (God’s Grace!). We are – “…struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me (us).”
Lord, forgive me for the times I stand on the curb, keys in hand, looking at the car that is filled with gas and ready to go, and say – “Why isn’t God doing anything for me?”. Give me Your Grace today to obey you in the small things, to hear Your voice, to begin to put one foot in front of the other in humble obedience. One of the first things I can do to begin this process is to stop grumbling and to begin praying and praising. May my heart be fully engaged in answering Your call today. Empower me by Your Great Grace, through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit! Open my eyes Lord, I want to see Jesus – IN ME! In Jesus Name!