so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
(Colossians 1:10 ESV)
To walk worthy of the Lord. Early on in my relationship with God I had the common thought that now that I am rescued from hell and eternal separation from God, I must prove I’m worthy of it. If you had called me legalistic you would’ve been right even as I denied you. See, I thought legalism was what you tried to do to get into heaven. I didn’t realize that legalism could happen after you have been assured heaven by faith in Jesus.
Verses like the above hit me with the thinking that I’m supposed to work after my faith…after all, isn’t that what it means to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord? Trying my utmost to be like Him in everything? There’s just one thing that separates the legalism of trying to prove I’m worthy and the power and grace to actually walk in a manner worthy. That’s the gospel.
The same gospel that rescued me from my sin rescues me from my self-effort. I am not worthy. I cannot, by effort, deed or will, become worthy. I can’t will myself to be a better christian or obey perfectly. The gospel demands of me to say, I can’t, I’m not, and I won’t be until heaven. Yet that very gospel reveals Jesus who is worthy, is perfect, and now lives in me and the Spirit of God provides the very power I need to walk in a manner worthy…not from my own trying harder, but rather from repenting of the belief that I can and believing in the One who already has.
This isn’t about earning our salvation by extreme measures or trying to finagle special favors from God. We can’t let our attempts to walk worthy of the gospel be driven by fear, drudgery, or guilt. Living a life worthy of the gospel— a mysterious life, indeed— should be a natural and joyful response to the crazy love God offers us. As Jesus taught, those who understand just how much they have been forgiven can’t help but live lives sold out for their Redeemer (see Luke 7: 41– 47). Because of the great love with which He loves us, we can joyfully follow our Savior’s example of embracing the mystery gospel-driven lives embody.
Anonymous (2012-09-20). Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything (pp. 134-135). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
I am, thankfully, more cognizant of the risk legalism and self-effort in my own life and walk. Preaching the very gospel that rescued me, to myself, helps to serve as the filter through which I obey. It’s not by my strength or power, but that of His. And my life of walking worthy is not about trying harder or being stronger, but humbling myself, crying out that I can’t without Jesus.