9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14)
Paul opens his letter to the Colossians with a prayer, and I've often found myself considering this passage when seeking the will of God. In verse 10, Paul prays specifically for "God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding;" specifically, for a knowledge of the will of God. And as he continues in verse 10, the purpose of Paul's prayer is "that you may live a live worthy of the Lord."
What's unique about Paul's prayer is that he doesn't just want us to learn about and grow in our knowledge of God's will, but he wants God's will to change how we live practically. So, knowing God's will will change how you live. Sounds great, right? Exactly what I'm looking for as I seek the will of God.
But how do we know God's will and make sure that we are living in it?
Paul goes on to give us three things that will help you to determine if you are living in God's will. They're like characteristics that we can use as metrics in our own lives. If these things describe you, you're probably living in God's will; if not, they're things that you should pursue if you care about God's will for your life.
First, take a look at the second half of verse 10. If you are in God's will, you should be experiencing continued spiritual growth. The idea comes from two phrases in the second half of verse 10: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
What does "bearing fruit in every good work" mean?
Paul is calling on a metaphor that Jesus used to describe followers of God in John 15. he says that people who are followers of Christ are like branches on a vine, and you can tell if they're connected to Christ (if they are in his will) by the fruit that comes off of the branches. people who are in Christ bear good fruit; people who are not bear bad fruit. You can tell if someone is a Christ follower by their fruit.
So in this situation, we can tell if somebody is in God's will by the fruit that is coming out of their life; specifically in the works that they are doing.
As you live your life, are you reproducing other Christians? Helping people to get saved?
Do the fruit of the Spirit characterize everything that you do?
Are you doing a lot of good works? Christian service? Or are you just sitting around or even doing bad things?
Ultimately, this comes down to whether or not you are living in a way that is consistent with Scripture and obedient to the Lord.
Now the second phrase, "increasing in the knowledge of God," is paired with the first, and that's important.
It tells us that increasing in the knowledge of God only happens when we are bearing fruit in every good work. A biblical scholar, F.F. Bruce, puts it this way:
"Obedience to the work of God brings further knowledge of God himself."
And that's a pretty good summary statement of what spiritual growth is based on what we see in Ephesians 4!
"Attaining to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God... to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, growing up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love."
The second characteristic is in verse 11. Those who are in God's will have the strength to persevere. Now, there's something interesting about the way the Greek word for power is written here. There are two words given: dynamis, and kratos.
Dynamis is like being able to exert a lot of force when performing some function. So, like a weight lifter, he has dynamis when he lifts like 250 lbs on a bench press or something.
Kratos is about being able to rule or control something.
Now, when you put it into this context, it tells us that you receive some physical strength that comes from knowing God is in control of your life; you're strengthened with all power according to God's glorious might.
And what that looks like for you, Paul says, is two things: endurance, and patience.
Endurance is the ability to bear up under difficult circumstances. In Scripture. this is usually being able to get through the difficult circumstances in life.
Patience is a state of emotional calm in the face of provocation or misfortune without complaining or irritation. It's that you're calm, you don't complain, and you aren't being irritated as a result of other people.
These two things compliment each other. If you're in God's will, neither circumstances nor people can steal your joy because you know God is with you and in control of it all.
The last characteristic is in verse 12. Those who are in God's will have heartful, genuine thankfulness for God.
Why should we be thankful to God?
Paul is going to give us two reasons in verses 12-14. God has given us an inheritance, and God has forgiven us our sins. We are co-heirs with Christ, and God has given us a share of Christ's inheritance and a place in the kingdom of God.
Those who are in God's will are thankful to God for their inheritance, and for our salvation. God rescued us from darkness, brought us into the Son's kingdom, and gave us redemption and the forgiveness of sins. Those who walk in the will of God are conscious of their salvation, and continually thank God for it.
So, let me close with our metrics. Evaluate if you are in the will of God:
Are you living in a way that is consistent with Scripture and obedient to the Lord?
Do circumstances or people around you steal your joy, or do you have endurance an patience because you know God is in control of everything?
Are you conscious of your salvation, and do you continually thank God for it?
The prayer of Colossians 1:9-14 is my prayer for you this week.
Middle School Pastor