"See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." Colossians 2:8-10, 13-14
February happens to be the shortest month of the calendar year, even though it celebrates some pretty powerful dates such as Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Black History Month, and even the Super Bowl, in addition to the potential millions of birthdays and anniversaries. Yet if February were a person, it might be tempted to complain about being cheated or slighted out of the extra days that the other months get. In fact, if February were a person, it may even begin a movement to demand its right to have as many days as the next month.
Of course I am being silly, but it is easy to feel slighted these days. It seems that everyone is doing it, or at least talking about how they deserve something more. I’m sure that we all have at one point or another believed that life would be better if we only “got what we deserved.” You may even be thinking that now as you read this.
But Paul had a different take on the subject of fairness. Paul was a guy who battled Jesus and actually killed some who followed Jesus’ teachings; until one day when Jesus opened Paul’s eyes (ironically by blinding him) and corrected Paul’s faulty thinking. As Paul began to follow Jesus, the very One Whom he had previously persecuted, he planted churches and wrote letters to them.
In one such letter to the Colossians he said this, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition…” Paul understood that many deceptive philosophies in our world attempt to lead us away from God and His truth which is found in Jesus Christ. And Paul warned believers to not be taken captive by such thinking.
One of the primary philosophies that captivates, or traps people, is what some call “entitlement.” Basically it is the thinking that I “deserve” more; or that I am entitled to what I deserve. Ironically there is a destiny that we each deserve and to which we are entitled; the only problem is that no one would want what they actually deserve. Paul clarifies this when he states that some have been “made alive” by God which sounds great except that in order to be made alive, one must first be dead! In other words, all of us begin our lives dead. And what we deserve is to remain dead, but God reaches out to awaken us. Clearly we are living and breathing so how can we be dead? We can be dead spiritually. Death is really a separation and in the case of spiritual death it means a person who is separated from God. According to Paul, we all start off spiritually dead; but the good news is that it doesn’t have to remain that way.
To be blunt, what we deserve is to be judged by God as unworthy and to remain separated from Him, but God has provided a way for us to be forgiven, “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.” God literally represented us before Himself and provided payment for our sins. How? Paul says that God did it by, “nailing it to the cross.”
Simply put, in the person and work of Jesus Christ we no longer have to get what we deserve. Instead, we can receive what we so absolutely don’t deserve which is an act of God’s mercy and grace to bring us into a relationship with Himself. In the end, the world may short us sometimes, but God provides for us an opportunity to gain opportunities that are beyond imagination, compare, and certainly beyond merit; rendering the world and it’s empty, deceitful philosophies foolish.
What is the cost for so great a gift?
Not much, just everything you have, beginning with your total trust and belief.
So how about it, do you still want what you deserve?
Posted on Thu, February 27, 2014
by Sam Petitfils