Let us look to the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians and to verse 1:10 which reads: “…… so that you might walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing, being fruitful in every work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Paul never visited the Church in Colosse which had grown out from his three year ministry in Ephesus. Even although he did not know the congregation or perhaps even the leaders personally, he was praying unceasingly that the church would be filled with an understanding of the Will of God. This ought to be a lesson for us also, as we pray for others and for ourselves.
There is a great deal of wisdom here in this verse from which we can learn. To be filled with understanding of the will of God, we need to have a working relationship with Him. Without a relationship, it is impossible to be either in God’s will or to please God. God is a “relational God.” There is nothing, either by the works of our hands or of our minds, which the Lord cannot do infinitely better than we can; for He is the creator of everything which exists. It is not the results of our works which He wants, but us, our selves. He wants us for Himself. He wants our obedience, for with that, He receives all else we have; our love, our praise, our worship, our time, our devotion and our works. When we are in obedience to Him, our All is for Him; and when that is the case, we have a relationship with Him and are in His will.
In the passage above, there are four qualities which we can identify and which are of vital importance to understand our relationship with the Living God:
First: We must walk in a way and manner which is worthy of God.
Second: All things we do, think and say must be pleasing to God.
Third: In everything we do, in every work which we undertake, we must bear fruit which is pleasing to God.
Fourth: At all times we must be increasing our knowledge of God.
If we review these four qualities, we see immediately that they cover all of our hourly, daily, and weekly life, in season and out. What we think, say and do, matters to God. But more than that, we are to intentionally and consciously seek a growing knowledge of God. Thus, to achieve these qualities, we need to strive for them. No matter how God has gifted us with natural and / or supernatural talents, we need to be proactive, and intentionally so. When Paul says “increasing in the knowledge,” the word ‘increasing’ in the original Greek is ‘auxanō ’ which is a prolonged form of a primary verb; to grow, that is, enlarge (literally or figuratively, actively or passively) as in grow-up or give the increase.
It is therefore not a single one-off study and all is done. It means a life-long learning and seeking to grow in the knowledge of God.
The question now, is this: what is the pivotal phrase in the Colossians 1:9-10?
I believe it is a small phrase in the middle which is so easily overlooked. The phrase “so that” or in some translation it only says “that.” This conditional phrase adds a whole new dimension to the understanding of the passage. If we were to rewrite the passage in a simplified and slightly different format, this meaning become clearer:
I pray for you “so that” you might walk in a manner worthy of God.
I pray for you “so that” you might be pleasing to God.
I pray for you “so that” you might bear fruit in your work which is pleasing to God.
I pray for you “so that” you might be filled with the knowledge of His will.
What does this mean for us? Being a conditional phrase, the words “so that” or “that” infer that if we do not do these things, we cannot please God. If we are not pleasing to God, we are not in His will. But what is it that is conditional? To understand this, we need to see it in context to the overall. In this case the preceding v9 tell us and reads “For this cause we also, since the day we heard, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire so that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Or more simply “ I pray for you so that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and understanding, so that you may do the following 4 things…….’
Simplified, it means that unless we know the Will of God, we cannot grow in our walk with Him or our works for Him. Unless we know the Will of God, our words are just hot air and our actions and works are in vain. Unless we know the Will of God, we are just fooling ourselves and / or trying to fool others by our deeds and actions.
How do we learn the will of God? We learn the will of God by studying His Word, the Holy Bible which He has given us. For as Paul tells us in his Second Epistle to Timothy, 3:16, “all Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” The Bible is, after all History; that is, His Story.
Thank You that You are my Lord and God. I pray that You will reveal Yourself to me through You Word. Please give me a heart hungry for Your word, that it may be before me day and night and always on my mind. Change me Lord, so that my will is Your will, for I lay down my will before You now and ask you please, to lead my life. My will is Yours, today, tomorrow and forever.
In the name of Jesus You Son, I pray. Amen and Amen.