6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7
No sin is more common among those who have a passion for righteousness and purity than to imagine that these things are to be achieved by human striving rather than divine grace. The Pharisees fell into the trap, the Galatians fell into the trap, the Judaizers fell into the trap, Peter fell into the trap, and, according to our text today, the Colossians were in danger of falling into the trap. After all, nothing makes more sense than to say that if we want to pursue the righteousness of God, then we must earn it; we must strive for it; we must achieve it.
For the last several weeks we have been considering the strength that God has placed in young men, the particular gifts that He has given them. Our text today in Colossians reminds all of us, young men included, that native strength is not the key to victory over the evil one – the key is faith, trust in the promises of God.
Paul exhorts us to walk in Christ, to conduct our lives, according to the same principle that united us with Christ in the first place. And what was that principle? Faith. Faith united us with Christ, was the appointed means by which God credited to our account the righteousness of Christ, was the gift that enabled us to emerge from the shadow of darkness into the light of life.
So let us be absolutely clear that we understand what this means. Young men, do not trust in your strength – trust in the goodness of God who has given you strength. What do you have that you have not received? And if you have received it, why do you boast?
Paul urges us to pursue our growth in grace by looking not to our own worth, not to our own deserving, not to our own wisdom, but looking instead to the grace of God, the mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has given us all things. And precisely because He has given us all things, we should be the most grateful people on earth, we should be “abounding with thanksgiving.”
And so, reminded that God’s grace is the source of our strength and wisdom; that that which distinguishes us from our neighbor is not our commitment, not our determination, not anything of ours, but rather the completely free grace of God, let us kneel and confess that we often fall into the sin of imagining that it is by our own strength that we serve the Lord and not by the strength which He has supplied.