Verse: Colossians 1:28-29
28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
I'm always fascinated by verses like this that articulate the partnership we have with the Spirit of God. The Scripture holds in tension the fact that we are saved by grace, there is nothing we can do to earn it, AND because of that free gift we respond with wholehearted discipleship (effort).
In my experience, as humans, we often struggle with the tensions in Scripture, so we tend to polarize towards one end or the other. We either overemphasize God's control over our lives or we overemphasize our effort. The first way can look like this: "I'm just waiting on the Lord, he'll open a door when the time is right." This sounds so good doesn't it? What's wrong with waiting on the Lord? Nothing! But when it becomes an excuse for not being obedient and doing our part, then it actually can hold us back. The second way can look like this: "I haven't prayed about it, but I'm just moving forward with what I think is best, and God will bless it." Effort is great! But effort without God's Spirit is limited at best, prideful at worst.
I love how Paul describes it: "I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me." I love that picture of Christ working powerfully in me. His work in me produces a desire to strenuously contend with the energy that he is giving me! I love that verse. It reminds me of another place where Paul says something similar: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Isn't that great!! His grace was not without effect. It starts with unearned grace, but it doesn't end there. It results in effort. He worked harder than anyone, but "not I, but the grace of God was with me."
It's an amazing partnership. His grace and our effort. His power and our response. His ability and our obedience. What areas in your life are you partnering with God in? How can you be growing in this partnership? Where are you maybe relying too much on your own effort, or waiting too much on God and not doing your part?
God, may the power of your Spirit continue to change me from the inside out, and inspire a life of wholehearted obedience and service to you!