“For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”
April 5, 1998— Palm Sunday, and the first Sunday my family came to this church.
Coming right out of Catholic church, we didn’t know what to expect. The only thing we knew was that we heard it was a good Bible-teaching church and we wanted to learn about God’s Word. We walked in and right away we were taken in by the worship and the warmth of the people. We could tell something very special was happening here. That God was moving in this place. Twenty-two years later and God is still on the move. But He’s saying, “There’s more work to be done.”
There’s a kingdom that needs to be furthered.
Certainly it is God who builds the church-Jesus said it: “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Matthew 16:18. But we have a part. As the apostle Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:6.
It’s a partnership really— a blending of our efforts done in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We see that “blending” in Colossians 1:29, where Paul makes that statement following what is in essence, his chief goal: Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ (1:28). It is what he strives for! But not only with his efforts, but by the power of the Holy Spirit working in him!
Commentators suggest that this verse is an excellent example of the balance of Christian living. Paul makes the statement that he gives all his energy to this effort. In fact, “toil” refers to working to the point of exhaustion.The Greek word for “striving” gives us the English word for “agonize,” as in the maximum effort required for intense athletic activities. At the same time, he knew that for his striving or efforts to have any spiritual and eternal results, it must be done by God through him.
Indeed, Paul was confident that his efforts of furthering the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ would be effective by doing his part with all his might—and by the power of God working through him. Amazingly, the same power at work in the apostle Paul is at work in us! God will use our desire and efforts as we share Christ with others for His glory. But remember, it’s a partnership. We have to do the seeding and/or the watering!
As things continue to open and more gatherings occur over the summer, will you take the opportunity to partner with God in the gospel? Just a reminder—men and women have always been His method in telling others about His Son! As we come out of lockdown, especially with our church reopening today (woo-hoo!), what an opportunity to co-labor with our Lord in the work that cost Him the most!
Pastor Joe Garofalo