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God’s Word for You

Colossians 2:7 rooted and built up

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, December 28, 2018

7 firmly rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Paul’s stress here is on the permanence of your faith. He gives us one of the many beautiful lists of the Scriptures. These lists are always worth careful consideration and meditation. Notice the upward progression of his thought: First of all, faith is firmly rooted, then faith is built up, then strengthened, and finally it overflows.

“Firmly rooted.” Being firmly rooted in Christ is also to grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-18). In the Old Testament prophets, those without faith are sometimes described as being planted or rooted, but they cannot remain more than a short time in God’s soil if they reject the Almighty (Jeremiah 12:2; Isaiah 40:23). But those who are rooted in Christ last longer than the “short time” of Jesus’ parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:21). We root our children in Christ by bringing them to be baptized, by bringing them to Sunday School or even Lutheran Elementary School (if possible). Their instruction there builds on what they learn at home in Mama’s lap and as Daddy leads devotions at the table or reads the Christmas story beneath the tree. Those earliest lessons will remain with those children their whole lives. I have never yet been at the bedside of a Christian, even one with loss or memory or dementia, who could not follow along with the Apostles’ Creed or the Lord’s Prayer, or who did not join in on at least the first verse of favorite hymns that we’ve sung.

“Built up.” This word can mean to build a house, a siege ramp (Jeremiah 32:24), or even a whole town (Joshua 19:50). It can also mean to build up a family (Ruth 4:11), but here it means to strengthen the faith of a Christian with instruction and with experience. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he encouraged them to “try to excel in (spiritual) gifts that build up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:12). When we interact with one another, we shouldn’t tear one another down. I know that sometimes we do this in a joking way, but we really need to consider the effect of what we do. Are we building one another up? Are we encouraging each other? Are we, finally, loving each other? John wrote: “I ask that we love one another” (2 John 5). This followed the command of Jesus: “As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34), repeated by Peter: “Love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22), and in John’s earlier letter:  “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

“Strengthened.” This is the word (bebaioumenoi, βεβαιούμενοι) translated “confirmed” in the last verse of Mark’s Gospel, “The Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it” (Mark 16:20). We strengthen our faith and confirm it when we continue to read the Word of God, study it, and take it to heart. We need to remember to let the Scriptures form our theology rather than shoehorn the Scriptures into what we want to believe. The Word of God is the summary, the example, the norm, and the rule. It was through the preaching of the gospel that the Galatian churches were strengthened (Acts 16:5). The Lord commanded Joshua: “Do not let the Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8). When Job was troubled, his friends said many things to him, some useful and some useless, but one friend reminded the teacher to listen to his own teaching from God’s Word: “Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees” (Job 4:3-4).

“Overflowing with thankfulness.” Finally, when a Christian’s faith is applied; when we see the grace of God, realize its impact in our world, and respond: this is thankfulness. Those around the throne of God say, day and night, “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever, amen!” (Revelation 7:12), and we say the same thing with our prayers and music day by day.

The life of a Christian becomes a life of continuous, walking prayer, as we see the mighty hand of God in the great events of life and the finger of God in the small events of the day. The wind can be understood as the breath of God, which brings the blessings of the fresh breeze, the formation of useful winter ice (Job 37:10), or the blast that destroys the wicked and chastizes the good (Job 4:9). The shining sun at its brightest is nearly as bright as the light of our eternal God (Revelation 1:16); the moon a dim remnant of his glory. Sun, moon and stars give him glory with their own form of praise (Psalm 148:3). We give God glory with our praise as well, but ours is not the pure praise of being precisely what God intended as the sun and moon continue to do. Ours, tainted by sin, is recovered by the atonement of Christ. We do not need to mourn again and again over our sins as if we are forever lost. We have been found, recovered, and restored by Jesus our Savior. This is what has planted us, built us up, strengthened us, and drawn out our thankfulness to overflowing.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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