“We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:28-29)
It’s called many things today, “power,” “energy,” “drive,” “vitality.” Here Paul calls it “energy.” But what is it? What is this energy that fuels Paul’s “labor and struggle?” What is it that is working “so powerfully” in him? What is the fuel for the Christian life?
What do you put in your tank? What enables you to start in the morning? What keeps you running all day? What fuels your commitment, your obedience, your ministry? I’ve got to understand this because there are so many inferior fuels — fear, tradition, pride, arrogance, to name a few. I have a friend who filled up at a gas station and then broke down three blocks down the road. He discovered he had one gallon of gas and 10 gallons of water. Or, you hear that clattering engine noise as you drive up a hill and you ask yourself “Why did I buy that cheap gas?” Bad fuel. Cheap gas. There’s a lot of it around.
Paul is very aware of inferior fuels. His earlier life had run on them. And so, over and over, in this short letter, he describes a much better fuel:
1:3 – “we always thank God”
1:12 – “joyfully giving thanks to the Father”
2:7 – “overflowing with thankfulness”
3:15 – “and be thankful”
3:16 – “with gratitude in your hearts”
3:17 – “giving thanks to God the Father”
4:2 – “being watchful and thankful”
This is Paul’s fuel — Gratitude. And it never runs out.
In his book, God Is Inescapable, Dr. David Soper writes that the basic difference between a prison and a monastery is simply the difference between griping and gratitude. I think he’s right. Criminals spend their days griping, saints spend their days offering thanks. And to take the analogy a step further, when a criminal becomes a saint his prison can become a monastery. Or, when a saint gives up gratitude, even his monastery becomes a prison.
Years ago, when Kipling was one of the more popular writers, it was reported that he received 10 shillings for every word he wrote. As a joke, some university students sent him 10 shillings with a note, “Send us one of your very best words.” Kipling wrote back one word, “Thanks.”
It still is one of our very best words.