"Grace Days, Labor Days"
(Friends: I entitled this "Labor Days" because just as I finished the essay, I remembered that this is, in the United States, Labor Day, the time of year in which the achievement and efforts of American workers are celebrated. The title may not strictly apply to the theme, but it does address our works for the Lord, as enabled by our working from His promised enabling. Or, we might say, "grace days" lead to "labor days." Thanks, Glen).
Walking with our Lord involves much conscious decision and determination. While He does much for and within us under the surface and behind the scenes, as it were, much that He would do for us requires our reasoned and chosen response to His gracious working on our behalf. As Joshua commanded the people of Israel before his death, "Choose you this day whom ye shall serve" (Joshua 24:15).
Such a life of volitional activity involving both the heart and the hands would be impossibly daunting were it not for God's promised provision of both motivation and strength for the journey.
"Work out your own salvation, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12-13).
The champion weight lifter does not flinch when his wife asks him to carry in the groceries from the car. He knows his own capacity to elevate hundreds of pounds of iron, based upon the physical strength of his body. In far greater measure, born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ possess our Lord's spiritual strength to walk in faith and faithfulness. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10). We may not feel that such is the case, and our experience does not always measure up to our capacity. However, the power of God is always present and available in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the promise of His Word, and the practical working of our Lord in us "both to will and to do." Our application of such grace begins in the faith that believes these Biblically affirmed assurances, and then goes forth in the expectation that leads to accompanying action of heart, hands, and feet. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" commanded the Apostle Paul (Galatians 5:25). Christians, in fact, do live in the Spirit - "Ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you" (Romans 8:9). Thus, we can walk accordingly through Christ, as enabled by the indwelling Holy Spirit. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheth me" (Philippians 4:13).
Our response to this frequently affirmed Scriptural truth requires our growing knowledge of God Himself, and the truth of His Word. We trust others in accordance with how well we know them, and also how well we know what they have spoken and promised. Thus, we must seek to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" in order that we might be enabled to respond to God's Truth amid the challenges and temptations of life. "I also labor, striving according to His working" testified the Apostle Paul, who knew his Heavenly Father well enough to consistently access Divine grace by faith (Colossians 1:29). Our Lord calls us to the same awareness and application of grace that results in a growing measure of confidence in our Christ-enabled capacity to trust and obey God. This leads to the practical expression of works originating with God's dynamic presence in our hearts and lives. Our labors are thus the fruit of His labors, and of our chosen determination to trust and submit ourselves to our Lord's Person, promises, and power.
"This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"
(I John 5:3-5)
Weekly Memory Verse
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
(I John 5:12)