I’ve been faced recently with the some rather uncomfortable experiences that have waivered between the line of following the spiritual disciplines and legalism. A passage today struck me as I’ve been pondering (or more specifically struggling with) these issues:
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, Col 1:9-12
At first reading, and especially considering some of the issues I’ve been facing, some of the word choices in here bother me. Things like, “living a life worthy of the lord,” and “bearing fruit in every good work.” They bother me because if taken out of context, these can be dangerous. I worry because it doesn’t take much to cross that line into legalism. The key here is to read on and not miss the meaning in the rest of the passage:
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col 1:13-14
My struggles recently have been about why I am training my spiritual self. Why am I reading the bible every day – why am I praying? Paul tells me why – because He has rescued me!! In truth, can I ever be truly worthy of the Lord? Can I ever bear enough good fruit? Perhaps, but the beauty is, I don’t have to worry about how much. God wants my best, yes, and I want to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant,” but Christ saved me from death, and for that I am more than grateful and more than willing to train.
Tim Keller in his book, “The Reason for God” says it best. “It’s not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you.”
Saving One, my prayer here is that you will always remind me that you delight in me when I delight in you, and that regardless of my sin, your love never fails. Amen