Colossians 1:9-14 (CSB): 9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and 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, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Paul is praying for several things in there, but I think you could summarize it this way. He’s praying they’d grow to know God better, and he’s praying their lives would grow to please the Lord and bear fruit in an increasing manner.
Verse 9…We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding
Now what Paul has in mind is not the idea of ‘what is God’s will for my life?’ Like, should I move here or take this job? He’s referring to a deep and abiding understanding of who God is. Then we see two other qualities that are to accompany the knowledge of our God.
Wisdom and understanding. These two words form the combination of the ability to discern the truth AND to make good decisions based on that truth. So not just the ability to say, ‘yes, this is truth and this is not,’ but also to then live in light of that truth.
So Paul is not praying that believers would gain knowledge just for the sake of knowledge, but rather that we’d grow in wisdom and understand how to live by the truth. In Colossians 2:6-7, Paul talks about how he prays believers would be rooted and built up in Jesus. Well the only way that happens is if we really know who Jesus is, and that we continue to grow in knowledge of Him.
Later in verse 10, he’s praying they’d be growing in the knowledge of God. The NLT says that verse this way…you will learn to know God better and better.
Between dating and marriage, Heather and I have been together for 25 years this December. In that time, I have grown in my knowledge of my wife. What she loves, what she doesn’t, how she ticks, and how she tocks, and what it looks like to love her in a way that she feels loved. In marriage, when we stop becoming students of each other, and stop growing in our knowledge about how our spouse is designed, our marriage then slowly shifts into neutral and rolling backwards.
The same holds true in our relationship with the Lord. Many of us are working from either second hand knowledge of who Jesus is. So you’re working from what someone else is telling you about Him, instead of growing in your knowledge of Him first hand. Or you’re working from what you knew of Him in your childhood or some previous spiritual growth season of your life, rather than present day.
Now the reality is, God hasn’t changed on you. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His nature and character is unchanging, and He is infinite and eternal. So you and I can’t reduce Him down to ‘oh, sure I know the Lord’ and settle for a surface knowledge of who He is. We know Him in part in this life, but we spend the rest of our lives getting to know Him better.
And the way we get to know Him is through His Word. We want to be people who are engaged in the daily reading and reflection of His Word. We want to be anchored to the Word. Because it is through His living and true Word, that we get to know Him and grow in our understanding and wisdom.
So Paul is praying that believers would grow in the knowledge of God, but he’s also praying they’d grow in how they live for the Lord. That they’d live according to what you know.
Paul prays…. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work
Without knowing who Jesus is, you won’t know how to walk in a way that pleases Him. So we grow in understanding and knowledge “with the result that you will walk” or “with the purpose that you might walk” and your way of life will match what you say you believe in your heart and mind.
The idea of ‘walking’ is the picture of a road or path that a person is traveling along. In the Old Testament, two paths or ways are often contrasted reminding those who are in Christ to continue to grow, and to encourage those not on the path to get off the one that leads to destruction and get on the one that leads to life.
If we are not growing in our knowledge of Jesus, one temptation we face is we begin to walk in a way that pleases us, or looks more pleasing when we compare our lives to the person next to us. But the Lord sets the standard for this walk, not us. Because we could look at that verse and change it to be something like this, ‘we want to live in a manner worthy of our neighbor, or friend, or co-worker.’ And in doing so, we fall into the trap of measuring ourselves horizontally, instead of vertically to the character and way of life of Jesus.
Paul is praying that believers would grow to know the Lord, and then live in light of that knowledge. And as they grow to live in a manner worthy of the Lord, that they’d continue to know the Lord more and more. It is circular and they build on each other.
Too often in the Christian world, we put knowledge and works at odds. We put ‘mind’ at odds with ‘hands and feet.’
So on one extreme, we reduce the Christian faith to be just about gaining knowledge and knowing solid Biblical doctrine. But then if not held in tension with works and bearing fruit, we might then slip into a mentality that is haughty, or impatient with those who don’t get solid doctrine right away. Or we may neglect God’s command to love your neighbor, extend mercy to the hurting, and engage with the lost and those not like us.
And then on the other extreme, we reduce the Christian faith to be just about living for the Lord and doing good works and deeds in this life. So we love our neighbors, and we do a lot of social good, but then we may not open our Bibles much. Or if we do, we only focus on the passages that feed our existing mindset, rather than looking at the whole of Scripture and what it teaches about all the attributes of God.
And those are really broad generalizations, but we want to reject both extremes. We want to be the Gospel people who hold these two extremes in tension. Who reject both extremes and understand that the Christian life is both to know and live. Two sides of the same faith coin. Head and heart. Paul is praying for both. Jesus modeled both. It is not either/or, but it is both/and.
We grow in knowing so that we might grow in living. And we grow in living so that we might grow in knowing. We want to be a church that is about knowing the Lord personally and living for Him as a way of life.
- May the Lord wake us to where we’ve neglected in pursuing to know Him more.
- May the Lord humble us from our pride in thinking we know enough of His infinite goodness and character.
- May the Lord change us in how our lives are not walking in a manner worthy of Him.
- May the Lord anchor us to His Word in our daily lives.
- May He unite us together as His people who have been enabled, rescued, transferred, redeemed, and forgiven.
- May He send us to bear fruit in every good work.