"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (Col 2:6a)
My wife and I like to take walks together, which has been somewhat hard for us to do since the boys came along. But when the weather is nice and the boys are cooperating, we take the opportunity to take a walk on the country roads around our home. This might be an oversimplification, but what it means for my family and me to go on a walk together is for us to actually walk next to each other. If I ran ahead, lagged behind, or just quit altogether, it would be hard for me to say I went on a walk with my family.
Applying that idea to Paul's phrase “walk in him” gives us a good idea of what Paul wants us and the Colossians to do, which is to continually walk alongside Jesus. He doesn’t want us to lag behind, walk ahead, or quit altogether. He wants us to stay right next Jesus.
As we walk next to Jesus, we should be in conversation with Him, so that He is establishing our values, guiding our thinking, and directing our conduct. As we continue walking with Jesus, our lives should constantly be changing.
Continually walking with Jesus, however, is easier said than done. Maybe we have gotten out of the habit, found another walking partner or we are just not feeling it. Whatever it may be, Paul knows it can happen, which is why he, like the good spiritual trainer he is, provides us with motivation for why we should keep walking with Jesus.
3 Things We Must Remember to Keep Walking with Jesus
(1) We must remember our profession of faith (vs. 6)
In verse 6, before Paul tells us to walk in Jesus he says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord,” (Col. 2:6a)
One of my family members adopted a little boy a couple of years ago. When you adopt a child, you adopt them for life. No matter what happens, or who he becomes, he is theirs. If there was any doubt as to their commitment, they only need to look back to the day when they received him.
In a similar way, that is what Paul wants us to do. He wants us to look back on the day we received Jesus; to remember our profession of faith and what we thought about Jesus, namely that He is the Lord of our lives and our Savior. Remembering our profession of faith and what we thought about Jesus should motivate us to continue walking with Him, so that He is the One who is establishing our values, guiding our thinking, and directing our conduct.
(2) We must remember that God uses Jesus to save, grow, and establish us (vs. 7a-b)
Following on the heels of telling us that we are to walk in Jesus, in verse 7, Paul tells us that we are, “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith,” (Col. 2:7a)
(1) We are rooted in Jesus
If you have ever planted a plant, I am sure most of you have, you know it’s important to make sure its roots are covered by the soil. If they aren't, the plant will die for lack of nutrients. Just like a plant needs to be planted in soil in order to live, we need to be planted in the soil that is Jesus in order to live. Without Him we are dead.
But here is the thing: just like a plant can’t plant itself in a pot; we can’t plant ourselves in Jesus. God has to do that for us. We know God is the One who roots us in Jesus because the verb “rooted” is a passive. The passive in grammar tells us that someone else besides the subject is doing the work and that someone else is God. He is the One who is rooting us in Jesus, which means we are not the ones who save ourselves; it’s God who saves us. It is through Jesus, then, that we are saved, not anything else. He is the One who provides us with salvation and He alone.
(2) We are built up in Jesus
After we are planted in Jesus and receive life from Him, God not only keeps us planted in Jesus, but He also uses the soil that is Jesus to build us up in the faith. As we receive the spiritual nutrient that is Jesus, we grow strong.
(3) We are established in the faith in Jesus
As we continue to feed on the nutrient that is Jesus, our roots grow deep, establishing themselves in the soil, allowing us to grow tall and mature in our faith.
When we are tempted to find another walking partner, we need to remember Jesus is the soil God uses to save us, grow, and establish us in the faith. Remembering, we should be motivated to continue to walk with Jesus.
(3) We must remember God’s work and allow it to drive us to thanksgiving (vs. 7d)
Paul ends verse 7 by telling us that the Colossians were “abounding in thanksgiving” (2:7d). Commenting on this verse, John Calvin says,
“When he adds, with thanksgiving, he would have them always keep in mind from what source faith itself proceeds, that they may not be puffed up with presumption, but may rather with fear repose [or keep] themselves in the gift of God.”
Calvin is hitting on an important point because continually thanking God for the work He is doing in our lives causes us to remember that it is God, not ourselves or something else in this world, which saves us and continues to grow us. Thankfulness, then, guards us against thinking too much of ourselves, or too much of the things of this world. It keeps us centered on that which provides all we need for life and godliness — Jesus.
Along these same lines, John Piper in his sermon, "Guard Yourself with Gratitude," says,
“Thankfulness is an essential guardian of the soul, and therefore we should guard ourselves with gratitude. Evidently we are fair game for the devil when we don't abound with thanksgiving. Unless the song of thanksgiving is being sung in our hearts the enemy outside will deceive his way into the city of our soul, and the enemy sympathizers within will make his job easy. So for the sake of your own safety, strive to fill your heart with thanksgiving! Guard yourselves with gratitude!”
If we truly focus on what God has done for us, then abounding in thanksgiving shouldn’t be a problem. He gave His only Son to suffer a punishment that we deserve in order to repair our relationship with the Him, so we could live in His kingdom for all eternity. He delivered us from the domain of darkness, freeing us from the bondage of sin so that we can walk in Jesus. He sustains our life each and every day by providing for our physical, spiritual, and psychological needs. God does all this, and more, for those who don’t deserve it. When we think about all of what God has done and is doing for us, we should abound in thanksgiving. As we abound in thanksgiving, our gratitude should keep us walking with Jesus.