Colossians 1:29 29For this I also labor, striving according to his power which empowers power within me.
Paul got strength for his ministry from the power of Christ working within him. Labor (kopiō) can be intense form of work that can lead to weariness. Paul had great zeal in ministry, as evidenced by his much travel and intense preaching and teaching. In many cases, this type of labor can lead to fatigue and burnout. Burnout in ministry can happen if a person relies upon his or her own abilities and strength. Self-care is important, but there is something even more significant for continued ministry for the Lord.
The instrumental participle striving (agōvizomenos) describes how Paul labors. This word gives the image of fighting in a battle or athletic contest. The voice of the word could be middle or passive. The middle emphasizes the cooperation between Paul’s faith and Christ’s grace. The passive would suggest more emphasis on Christ’s grace working in him. Either is possible, but the middle voice may provide the nuance that Paul is stressing. He and his companions have given their best effort in faithful dependence upon the grace of Christ.
The grace is described as his power or “energy” (energeian), which is experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit. The power of Christ is emphasized with the repetition of “power” in an attributive participle (energoumenēn), which makes for an awkward translation. The literal reading is “his energy which energizes in me with power.” Paul makes it clear that even though we must respond in faith, it is ultimately not our power at work but the Lord’s.
Ministry and working with people can be very challenging at times. The constant temptation for ministers is to take the load upon themselves. Many ministers are high achievers who work hard to fulfill their calling. Without tapping into divine resources, ministers can burnout their own energy. We are like batteries that need constant charging. The way to do this is to be in prayer and growing in knowledge and understanding of God. We must trust in God’s might and not our own.
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