Summary: The atttributes of a meaningful Christian life.
Almost everyone is determined to make their life count for something. Steve Fossett was a well known adventurer who was the first person to fly solo nonstop around the world in a balloon. He also sailed around the world five times non-stop, he also a powered aircraft license. On September 3, 2007, Fossett was reported missing after the plane he was flying over the Nevada desert failed to return. A while later a hiker found his identification cards. He was confirmed dead on 3 September, 2008.
This guy really did something we his life. Fossett set 116 records in five different sports. He left his mark on this world—at least for a few years he will be remembered for making a difference.
Does not the Teacher in Ecclesiastes seem a little tactless when he rather dryly says, ‘Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days’ (Ecc 9:9). More gloom from the Teacher. ‘No-one wants to live a meaningless life, thankyou very much Teacher, so go back to your lonely corner on the other side of the room. We don’t need your bluntness today’!
A life that counts! That’s what we want, a life that counts! We admire people with the gall to push the boundaries and demonstrate remarkable ingenuity and self-sacrifice—these are the lives noted by others. Henry Ford and the motor car, ‘You can have any colour you want as long as its black’. The doctors on RPA who do such amazing surgery—others say Bill Crews and the Exodus Foundation. Sometimes you can even land yourself in a ‘hall of fame’. There’s the sporting hall of fame, the Australian Stockman’s hall of fame, and the Rock and Roll hall of fame.
The Book of Colossians describes a life that won’t land you in a hall of fame—although it may land you in jail. Indeed, Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians from jail, yet he considers his life worthwhile as he suffers for Christ. And from jail he commends the Colossian saints for their faith in Christ and their love for the all the saints. From God’s point of view a worthy life is a gospel-centred life. It’s a life of hope for the riches in heaven. It’s a life that has at its centre the Lord Jesus Christ.
Come with me to Col 1:10, ‘And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way’. A life which counts is one worthy of the Lord because it pleases him in every way’. When placed alongside the energetic claims of the false teachers, to some of the saints at least, the Christian life look too unassuming and so unspectacular. And so the possibility of false teaching entering the church. In contrast to those scandalous claims, the Christian life is about ‘working out our salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil 2:12), its about living a life worthy of the Lord.
God never commands us to do something without providing us with the necessary resources. When we ask God for what we need he will give us what we need. This is the whole point of verse 9. There can be no successful Christian living unless we pray as Paul prays in verse 9. And so verse 9 must precede verse 10. (There’s also a mathematical reason why verse 9 is before verse 10). ‘For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding’.
Our Christian lives must be one of asking God to continually pour into us a knowledge of his will, and spiritual wisdom and understanding of his Word. Notice how much God is giving us. He is filling us with himself! I hope you weren’t asleep when I said that! In Christ we share in the divine nature! Indeed, the grammar of verses 9 to 14 indicates that God’s amazing ‘filling’ of his people governs this whole section on Christian conduct. We have no success our Christian lives unless God fills—unless he fills us with his Spirit so we can live worthwhile and profitable lives. God fills us with his power which enables us to bear the fruit of the Spirit. God fills us with strength which produces endurance and patience, and he fills us with thankfulness that comes with the knowledge that we now live in the kingdom of his Son.
God wants you to know that what he expects from you is within your reach. Ask and he will fill you and he will continue to fill you to cause you grow in Christian maturity. Now the idea of ‘fullness’, ‘abundance’ and ‘riches’ has a special place in the letter to the Colossians. The false teachers were boasting that fullness and satisfaction comes by immersing oneself in traditions apart from Christ. And dear Epaphras, the best he could do was turn on the tap on half-way; his gospel was incapable of filling anyone with anything.