November 1, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture— Colossians 1:12 (NIV)
. . . and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
What do we need when we have had enough? To the Ephesians, Paul told them that they are an inheritance. And to the Colossians, he told them that they receive an inheritance. We do not just get the tools for the journey—some kind of spiritual gas station every few miles to restock resources. We get the reminder that we are the resourced ones.
I had a great idea of using cross-country as a preparatory method for the wrestling season. This was before I had any Greek studies or careful thought that would have helped me to know that “cross-country” is an adjective describing a type of running. While it is not in actuality across the country, when you finish it (if you survive) you will be certain that you have seen too much of the country.
During camp, I was told that we were going on a peaceful morning run of about 6 or 7 miles. That was what I heard. About six miles was the maximum length I had run, and it was early before the oppressive heat kicked in, so I figured I would be ok. I began to get worried around mile two when I recognized that the gravel road was straight and we were not making turns. Around mile five—between questioning the hypostatic union, what Kit Kats were made of, and if Jesus could turn exhaustion into wine and then back into water—I noticed that the cross-country super-achievers were coming the other way. When I reached the highway, I realized that it was a six or seven-mile trip one way. I was wearied and now it was hot, and in order to finish, we would have to turn around and go back. Around mile seven I began to question the point of me being there.
In the course of the year (or day) most humans reach a point where the reality of the journey is much further than previously believed. The sun’s rays have transitioned from warming the cool air to beating down on you. And when you think you have arrived you realize that you are only just beginning. When you have worked to pay off something only to have something else break—the student who completed a project and somehow the file is corrupted or deleted, the leader of an organization who gets the right people in place then realizes that the purpose is much heavier than originally believed. When we are weak God is indeed strong; but how do you, practically, keep running?
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he prayed that they will be filled with many things (Colossians 1:9-11). Emptiness is a perpetual foe in this life’s race and we cannot avoid being tired forever. It is interesting that Paul prayed that they would be filled with knowledge, with living and pleasing God, with bearing fruit, and being powered with power, patience, and joy. We need those gifts from God on the journey. The why behind those gifts helps us understand how good those gifts are.
From prison, Paul in his own journey turned to the saints in Colossae and after praying for what they needed to keep things going, he reminded them why they can keep going. What makes a person watch the things around them fall apart and get up the next morning willing to try again? What makes one who is inept by their own standard and everyone else’s keep trying to contribute to the world and to do good toward their neighbor? What makes the one who sees hopelessness in the world maintain a real hope? Why do you persist? What is driving you? Paul told the saints of God that for us it boils down to a fundamental fact: We are qualified to “share in the inheritance” of the saints of Light.
To the Ephesians, Paul wrote that they are an inheritance. To the Colossians, he told them that they receive an inheritance. We do not just get the tools for the journey—some kind of spiritual gas station every few miles to restock resources. We get the reminder that we are the resourced ones. We are qualified and thus we have everything according to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We are like John the Baptist, unworthy to untie the shoes of Jesus yet qualified to baptize him. We are like Paul, not worthy to be an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9; 2 Corinthians 2:16). Yet here we are reading his letter and trusting God’s word despite his inadequacies. We are like the woman with the inadequate anointing even though it is expensive—and yet we are still talking about her (Matt. 26:13). We are not qualified because of our achievements but because of Christ’s accomplishment. God’s gracious gifts through his Son make us into people who are qualified.
Around mile eight I really had nothing in me and if Uber existed I would have called a ride. Nobody was talking. We were all winded, even the super-achievers. Have you had enough? You may be at a point where the destination is still much further than when you started. You may be worn out by the proverbial heat of the day. You may be looking for help. Only the accuser lingers to remind us of our conditions. But he leaves out what we forget: divine enablement. We are worn and pressed in every direction but our status is that we also are people who are filled. We are inept and prone to wander but we are reminded that we are also qualified to continue.
When was the last time you experienced or felt or were made to feel that you were not a qualified Christian?
When was the last time you reminded a believer to look forward and remember that Christ qualifies them?
Find a weary believer in your workplace or neighborhood. Watch their life. Look through their lens and their heart at how they see the world. Take time to talk to God about your thanks to him for that believer’s power, knowledge, and life. Give that person a message of encouragement about how they are qualified by God.
God, I thank you for the Spirit leading us to all truth. And thank you that your truth includes that you have taken clay and used it for your glory. We belong to you God. We derive our worth and value and purpose from you. And we thank you that it all reflects back on who you are. When we are tired or weary by the day please make us pause to consider that we have an inheritance and we are an inheritance. Remind me to consider those other believers who are qualified also. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God Worked in Creation, Making Humans Workers in His Image (Colossians 1:1–14)
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DeLano J. Sheffield is the Business Resource Specialist for Goodwill of MoKan where he connects to people on the fringes, training them to reach their full potential through learning and the power of work; he also is on the frontlines of the advances of the fourth industrial revolution and coaches leaders on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. He began his career as an architectural engineer then went on to attend seminary. In every part of his life he finds ways to infuse theology into vocation, and strengthen practical connections of faith and daily activity. DeLano lives in Kansas City, Missouri.