Summary: Sometimes we wonder if our lives really matter. Paul defines a life worth living in this intro to his letter to the Colossians. He reminds us of what truly matters to God.
A Life Worth Living
Do you ever wonder if your life has amounted to much? Do you ever rehearse a lifetime of regrets, and wish you had one big do-over, to go back and live life differently? What kind of life should we live if we really want a life worth living? My intent today is not to shame anyone or make us feel bad for the times we waste our lives. Instead, I hope to lead us to cooperate more with the Holy Spirit in bringing about any adjustments each of us might need to live a life worth living.
Today’s scripture is actually part of a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to a young church of believers in a small town called Colossae. This group needed strengthening; it needed encouraging. Today we’re going to zero in on verses 9-12, because there Paul describes what we might call a “life worth living.” He says in verse 9b, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way” (Colossians 1:9-10a). Wow! Can you imagine living a life like that? Now that’s a life worth living!
Over the next couple of verses, Paul describes four aspects, four characteristics of such a life. First, he says,
A life worth living is...
1. Productive in things that count
In the very next phrase of verse 10, Paul describes this kind of life as “bearing fruit in every good work.” A believer who is living a life worthy of the Lord is going to be doing great things, not by their own power, but by God’s power within them. In fact, they are going to be producing spiritual fruit in everything they do. Remember the fruit of the Spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). These things are produced by the Spirit at work in our lives. And so we discover that we are productive in the things that really matter.
No one went to their death bed saying, “I just wish I had spent more time at the office!” No, this kind of person knows they are majoring on the majors, not the minors. They are focused on what matters: loving God and loving people. And their success rate in God’s eyes is 100 percent! They are the farmer that Jesus spoke of who brings a 30, 60, or even 100 fold return. They are the servant who turns three talents into six, or five into ten. Everything they touch prospers, not necessarily as we think of prospering, but prospering in the advancement of God’s kingdom. They are productive in things that matter. And #2, they are...
2. Growing ever closer to God
The next phrase in verse 10 speaks of “Growing in the knowledge of God.” When we think of knowledge, we think of going back to school. Yet, this is talking about a different kind of knowledge: a growing intimacy or awareness of who God is. A person with a life worth living is growing ever closer to God.
Back when Paul wrote this letter, there were some folks who valued knowledge very much. In fact, their group was named after the Greek word for “knowledge.” They were called “Gnostics.” They thought they were smarter than anyone else, that they had received a special word right from heaven that the average person just didn’t have. No, Paul said, what you really need to know is a person: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is relational knowledge. This is like a husband and wife getting to know each other over a lifetime. At some point, they can complete each other’s sentences. Well, God wants to build a relationship like that with you, to where you know God better and better, and it seems God knows you better and better (although he already knows you completely). What could be more exciting than getting to know the God who made the universe? Ray Steadman said, “He is an exciting, captivating being filled with fresh ideas, concepts and possibilities of which you never could have dreamed.” Grow ever closer to the God who desires nothing more than a relationship with you.
The next manifestation of a life worth living is being...
3. Able to handle the unexpected with grace
Those are my words. I’m trying to describe the person who just doesn’t let things or people get to them. They are even-keeled. They are patient. They are mature. Paul describes it like this in verse 11: “Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”