He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 1:28 – 2:3)
In this four-week series, we are walking through each of the four chapters of Colossians, honing in on a few passages that are particularly relevant to ambitious professionals like you and me.
Today, I’d like us to focus on Paul’s description of his work ethic, in which he says, “I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29).
In the past few years, there seems to have been a dramatic rise in the number of books and other pieces of content encouraging us (especially Christians) to slow down and rest. Given our modern addiction to work and increased susceptibility to workaholism, I think most of this trend is good (in fact, I myself recently published a devotional series on the topic of rest).
But in the midst of all of this talk about rest, I beg that we be careful not to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction. All throughout Scripture (and in Colossians in particular) we are called to work hard or as Paul so eloquently says here, to “strenuously contend with all the energy” we have for the work we were created to do.
Why? To what end are we called to expend this much energy in our jobs?
Paul answers this question in verse 28: We are called to work hard as a means of proclaiming Christ in everything we do so that others may see and know him.
Doing just enough work to get by and earn a paycheck is the norm in our world today. What is rare is to “strenuously contend” for exceptional work because we are compelled by a mission bigger than ourselves or even the companies we lead or work for.
What is that larger mission? To “proclaim” Christ (1:28) so “that [others] may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ” (Colossians 2:2).
Our work provides perhaps the most significant arena through which we can make Christ known through the way we live, the way we talk, and the way we energetically work to produce exceptional things in service of others.
So yes, let us be sure to rest and combat workaholism wherever that temptation may lurk. But let us also be known as those who work hard as a means of making the Creator God known to those around us.