“We’re sorry, you don’t qualify.”
If you’ve ever heard or read those words before, you know how disappointing they are. Hopes may be dashed by those words. Dreams may be left in tatters. The words sting, even though they are merely conveying a fact that you don’t meet the requirements for the job, the loan, or the place on the team.
Those words are bad enough when they refer to some worldly activity. But imagine what it would be like to hear them, or words like them, when life is over and your eternal destination is being assigned. Imagine being told “You are not qualified to escape God’s wrath. You don’t qualify for eternal life. You don’t meet the requirement.”
For those of us who have trusted in Christ, imagining is the closest we will ever come to that experience. That is because of what our heavenly Father has done, as Colossians 1:12 tells us:
…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (ESV)
The Father has qualified you. Notice that the verse does not say that you have done anything. He has done everything required, by sending His Son to meet the requirements for you. This was His act, not yours. You are passive in it. You have done none of it. He has done it all.
Notice also that the verse says that all of this has already happened. You are already qualified, and need not do anything in the future. There are no tests or exams. There is no paperwork that you need to file. There is no condition you still have to fulfill. It is done.
But for what has He qualified you?
To share in the inheritance. What is the inheritance?
The inheritance includes eternal life, but it is even more. Jesus described that inheritance as the kingdom of the Father:
Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:32 (ESV)
Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. -Matthew 25:34 (ESV)
Jesus described it as a hundred times greater than all the things you might possess on earth put together:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. -Matthew 19:29 (ESV)
Peter described the inheritance as…
…an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, – I Peter 1:4 (ESV)
What is more, you are qualified by the Father as one of the saints in light.
The saints are those who are “set apart” and made holy. The Father has already designated you as holy, pure, righteous, and sinless. That is the quality that the sovereign all-powerful Creator and sustainer of the world has ascribed to you. To describe you as a saint, He also uses the expression “in light,” which means both in purity and in truth. There is no doubt of your holy standing as a saint, for it is impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). Just as He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, He has declared you a saint and holy in truth, and so you are made holy in truth.
In response to all of this, the first part of Colossians 1:12 reminds us to give thanks to the Father. Although we might look upon all that the Father has qualified us for– eternal life, the inheritance of the kingdom, standing as a holy saint, true purity– and desire to somehow deserve them, we cannot. A gift cannot be deserved, and God’s grace cannot be repaid. The only seemly thing we can do is to give thanks to the Father who has done all of this.