Col. 1:29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
Sometimes Christianity seems to be in conflict with itself. Paul’s life is a great example of what I mean. We see in Paul’s life someone eaten up with zeal and vision for his ministry; obviously Paul holds nothing back. At the same time we see the transforming, supernatural power of God working powerfully in and through the Apostle Paul. This conflict is at the heart of all Christian endeavors. Was Paul’s success all Paul or all God? We see the dilemma in today’s verse, Paul says he is struggling or agonizing with the very energy and power of God. This is how Adam Clarke describes this conflict.
“Whereunto I also labour. In order to accomplish this end, I labour with the utmost zeal and earnestness; and with all that strength with which God has most powerfully furnished me. Whoever considers the original words, will find that no verbal translation can convey their sense. God worked energetically in St. Paul, and he wrought energetically with God; and all this was in reference to the salvation of mankind.”
So is it Paul or is it God. It seems as if the revelation of God awakened Paul’s passion and drive and at the same time empowered him in unprecedented ways. Albert Barnes also talks about this strange convergence of human and divine energy.
“Striving. Gr., agonizing, he taxed all his energies to accomplish this, as the wrestlers strove for the mastery in the Grecian games. According to his working. Not by my own strength, but by the power which God alone can give.”
Was Paul striving ? The answer is yes but not the striving in the flesh we normally associate with striving. He was striving together with the Lord to see all mankind effected with this divine power that had changed his life. So there was supernatural power involved, not just the will power of a driven man. Wuest also talks about this divine energy at work in Paul’s life.
“Our word “energy” is derived from this word. “Mightily” is Dunamis, “power” in the sense of natural, inherent ability. Expositors says; “The struggle is carried on in proportion, not to his natural powers, but to the mightily working energy of Christ within him.”
The good news about all of this is this; this power is working in whosoever will. Rather than doing nothing and waiting on the Lord or taking matters into your own hands; we can yield our hands, all of our strength and talents, into His hands. Learning to yield to the conflict will bring you into the place where you too can say, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me”.