“To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.” Colossians 1:29
We’re living in the midst of an energy crisis. I’m not talking about fossil fuels, but about trying to find enough energy to face the relentless demands of our busy lives. Exhaustion is so widespread that energy drinks are a multi-billion-dollar industry in the US alone.
The Apostle Paul, of course, didn’t have the luxury of grabbing a Red Bull to fight off fatigue. He had to depend on another kind of energy altogether.
His energy was supernatural and it came through the indwelling Spirit of God and enabled Paul to handle continuous challenges on his missionary journeys.
At the core of his being, Paul operated under the power of the Holy Spirit, relying on Him to fuel his every action.
Still, Paul was not exempt from exerting tremendous effort. He “labored” and “struggled.” A literal translation of these terms reads, “I labor to the point of exhaustion, agonizing.” This expression was typically used to describe an athlete participating in a competition.
Throughout all of his vigorous toil, Paul was never striving in his strength alone. There was a beautiful combination of human labor and Divine energy. Theologian and author John Piper explains, “God does not work instead of our working, but through our working. God does not energize instead of our having energy; He energizes our energy.”
This same dynamic is as accessible to us today as it was for Paul.
The question is – do we really believe we can live this way?
Before we answer this question, we need to understand the motive behind Paul’s labor and the purpose of the Spirit’s energy coursing through his bones.
Notice what he shares in the preceding verse – “He (Jesus) is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone, so that we might present everyone fully mature in Christ” (v.28).
The goal of Paul’s life was to proclaim the good news of Jesus and help people grow in Christlikeness.
Not all of us are called to be full-time missionaries, but all Christians are called to participate in this mission in some form or fashion (See Matthew 28:19,20). For this cause, we’re promised an endless supply of His energy.
The Spirit performs a variety of functions in our everyday lives such as:
• Reminding us of truth (John 14:26)
• Shaping our character (Galatians 5:16-18)
• Helping us pray (Romans 8:26)
But these everyday functions of the Spirit are in the broader context of living “on mission” to reach a lost, broken world. The Spirit empowers us to be witnesses for Christ as we go about our everyday lives (Acts 1:8).
So, why does the Spirit fill us with His energy?
- To increase our fame? No.
- To make our hopes and dreams come true? No.
- To make our lives problem-free? No.
His Spirit energizes us so that we can play our unique role in reaching and discipling people for Jesus right where we live, work, and play.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH
Live it out
1. Profess your need for the Spirit’s energy while simultaneously resolving to work as diligently as you can.
2. Ask yourself this question: "How am I currently involved in the mission of reaching the world for Christ?"