8th Sunday after Pentecost – C (Proper 10) LSB #387
Text – Colossians 1:11-12
May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance & patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
ENDURANCE & PATIENCE WITH JOY
Running has been my chosen form of exercise for 20 years now, & running a race is sort of the top achievement in that sport. When I’d get to the finish line it took a good ten minutes before I could feel the joy of having finished the race. Up to then I was nauseous from pushing myself to the limit. Endurance & patience are needed to finish such a race with joy.
Running can also be an accurate illustration for highlighting certain aspects of our spiritual life. The apostle Paul uses it several times in his letters. Probably the most powerful is at Galatians 5:7, “You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (ESV) Our heavenly Father could have said the very same words to Adam after The Fall.
And the Bible reveals very clearly just whom it was that hindered Adam from obeying the truth. At John 8:44, Jesus said of the devil: “When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar & the father of lies.” (ESV)
We have become so accustomed to hearing lies, that we think nothing of it anymore. It’s just a normal part of life. It’s what people do. Even in the church we’ve become blinded to the damage that lying causes. That’s why St. Paul’s words are such a powerful diagnosis: “You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”
We need to believe that we are hearing the truth in order for us to endure suffering. When running in a race, if I didn’t trust the time keeping system, it was a lot more difficult to push myself to the limits. I wanted to know that my suffering would bring worthwhile results. Motivating yourself to suffer for a lie is almost impossible. A couple Sundays ago, the sermon was titled Walking By The Spirit. It was about living the Christian life & following the guidance of God’s Spirit to live that life with integrity. Having faith in Jesus always brings results. God promises that & He makes it happen, even if those results cannot be evaluated with our physical eyes. Nevertheless, faith believes the promises of our Lord, no matter how things appear.
Since Jesus is truth, Satan’s only real weapon is the lie. If he’s able to convince you that the lie is true, then he has separated you from life. You may remember that Jesus said, “I am the Way, & the Truth & the Life.” (John 14:6 ESV) Separating you from the Truth automatically separates you from Life. That is Lucifer’s day in, day out, continuous goal.
He’ll fight you tooth & nail, & being a pacifist is not an option for our saintly nature. The devil wages spiritual warfare every hour of every day. It is only in Christ that we find endurance & patience for that battle. The saints at Colossae were not only fighting that battle, Satan was attacking them furiously. Worse yet, many of the people weren’t clued in.
St. Paul writes the letter of Colossians in order to warn the Christians there, to encourage them & to strengthen them. He wants them to continue walking by the Spirit, yet, he’s also teaching them that this walking will require endurance & patience on their part. Those thoughts are directed, by the Holy Spirit, also to every one of us here this morning.
As you hear these words, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance & patience with joy,” (Colossians 1:11 ESV) those very words enable & empower endurance & patience for each of you simply because they are the Words of God. That is what “believing in Jesus” is about.
Christians don’t just believe in Jesus. We believe in His Words, & in their power to bring about what they say & what they promise. Many children of God consider that to be a fairytale Christianity, because they do not always “see” an immediate effect from the Words. Since they do not see, for example, an instant answer to their prayer, they come to believe wrongly, that God’s Words have no power. They forget that simply because an admiral may say “Full speed ahead” does not make the boat instantly travel at full speed. It still requires the work & the time & the energy of everyone involved, accomplishing their tasks, to make it happen.
So it is with much of the work God’s Holy Spirit calls us to do. It certainly takes endurance & patience to teach children, as we do here at Sunshine ECC & at Holt Lutheran Schools. It takes endurance & patience to teach adults as we do in Sunday morning Bible class, or at elder’s meetings, or voter’s meetings, or church council meetings.
You might say it takes endurance & patience to get through listening to my sermons, or listening to my Bible studies. You can bet it takes endurance & patience on the part of the Holy Spirit as He guides & directs us in walking by the Spirit.
Yet, as St. Paul encourages the Colossians, & you, & me, with these words, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance & patience with joy,” (Colossians 1:11 ESV) those very words have their effect. It may not be as immediate as we would like, but they are Words of God & they do not return to Him void & empty.
We should also keep in mind this, as we doubt the effect of those words, we are the ones who weaken their power. As we are skeptical of the effect of those words, we are the ones who lessen their scope. As we hear & welcome the lies of Satan, we are the ones who separate ourselves from life. Without life we cannot run & we cannot walk by the Spirit.
Continuing beyond the milk level of faith, stepping into the meat level of Christianity, the lies of the devil do more than simply get in the way. It takes more than just avoiding the lie to run the race well. It takes endurance & patience too. And going even beyond that, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance & patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” (Colossians 1:11-12 ESV) The Apostle Paul does not merely call us, or encourage us, to endurance & patience, but to do so with joy, giving thanks to God because it is He who has qualified us to share in the inheritance!
St. Paul not only urges us on to greater faith, through words of Law, he also empowers us by telling us why with the Gospel. He introduces the Good News in the last words of v. 12 & then lays it out for us in vs. 13 & 14:
“…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness & transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (ESV)
The Apostle knows & God knows that we will fail to endure & to be patient as we ought. We absolutely will fail to be joyful as we should. Yet, the Apostle, & certainly God, also know that without offering the forgiveness of our sins no sinful human being can ever get beyond their sin. No sinful being can reconnect himself to the Source of life.
Jesus came to earth & took on human flesh for that express purpose. As we endure & practice patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, in due season we will reap a harvest. Our labors will not be vain; we will not have run the race to no avail. Yes, being a good Samaritan is not easy. It takes great endurance & patience.
Being generous with our income is not easy, especially with the way the government has messed up our economy. It also took great endurance & patience to follow the laws of Leviticus where farmers were required to leave some of their crop in the fields so that hungry people had an opportunity to provide themselves with food to eat.
Endurance & patience with joy is practically impossible, nevertheless, it is a lie that says
we cannot run the race with endurance or patience & with joy give thanks to our heavenly Father. Jesus is not just the Truth & the Life, but He is also the Way to heaven. Jesus is the Way to living a life of endurance & patience with joy.
Joy to the World, we sing it with gusto at Christmas time. So exactly when was it that our joy left us behind? When was it we decided we were no longer joyful at Christ’s coming? Was it one day after Christmas, three days, a week later, or a month later?
It’s not like Jesus has abandoned us or anything, but look around at the number of members here in church today. A lot of them are missing. Many of them are not finding their joy in Christ this morning!! For those of us who do, it is our calling from the Holy Spirit to share the joy we have with them.
In order to do that, 1st we need to have our joy strengthened & renewed. The Words of Colossians 1 point you in the only direction from which true joy will ever arrive in your heart & soul:
“…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness & transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Running the race is not easy, but we have the Son of God running that race with us, carrying us even, right to the finish line. There’s plenty of room to find joy in that. Amen.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare Him room & heaven & nature sing. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ, while fields & floods, rocks, hills & plains repeat the sounding joy. No more let sins & sorrows grow nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found. He rules the world with truth & grace & makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness & wonders of His love. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet