Summary: There are two keys to healthy spiritual life according to Paul's prayer: being filled with the knowledge of God's will and then walking in that knowledge.
Living healthy – what does it mean? Keeping the weight off, not smoking, not drinking, eating lots of fruit and vegetables, exercising every day, plenty of rest, plenty of fluids. All these are good ways to keep our God-given body in good condition. But how do you keep your spiritual health in good condition? Isn’t that something we take with us day and night no matter the condition of our body?
The Apostle Paul, who helped to start the congregation in Colossae was deeply burdened for them. They had some issues and problems but also there was a great love for the Lord Jesus. In this young congregation, Paul wanted to make sure that they grew and grew strong and healthy. And so he first and foremost PRAYS for them. He is praying for those who are saved, who know the Lord Jesus and trust in him as their Savior. He’s not talking to the unsaved. But how he prays reveals what is crucial for this church and also for us as a congregation.
In his prayer he reveals two main keys to healthy living.
Key 1 is being filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
Colossians 1:9 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
When I first read “filled with the knowledge of his will” I immediately began to think of hard studies. You like me might think of reading lots of books and researching in the library. You might think of going to seminary and getting a degree. You might even think of earning a doctorate in theology as the ultimate fulfillment of this verse. While all of these can be good for your spiritual life, it is not necessarily what Paul is talking about.
Knowing God’s will is absolutely vital to our spiritual life and it is amazing that it is very often completely ignored. We need to know what God wants from us, from our families, from our congregation, from our city. But often we simply assume we know what God would want. But we don’t seek it. We don’t ask him. We don’t listen to his answer. We come up with all our own answers to problems and how life is supposed to work and how we are supposed to behave. But when we don’t look for answers from God, we are fools. How can we live as his children if we don’t know what he wants?
1. Knowledge of God’s will (moral) comes first and foremost from the Scripture.
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Read the Scripture! Study the Scripture. No one knows instinctively the teachings of God’s Word. It takes cracking the Bible, asking God to teach you, and then openly reading the Scripture. Although I’ve gone to seminary, it doesn’t mean that I’m the most knowledgeable – I’ve known men and women on the mission field who never even went to college and were much more knowledgeable of the Scriptures than I am.
If we all sought to apply God’s teachings in the Bible to our own lives, almost every single decision of our lives would be crystal clear. Most of our dilemmas are solved although they would not be easy to carry out.
Recently, at home we’ve been reading the Christian classic “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon. In it the pastor challenges his members to make a commitment to only do that which Jesus would do for one whole year no matter what the consequences. What a challenge! But it is extremely difficult because many sacrifices have to be made. But before you answer that question, you have to know Jesus. You have to know what kind of man he was and is and what he said and did. That takes the study of Scripture and cannot be based on how a movie depicts him, or a book or a picture.
What does the Bible say? From the Scriptures we know that Jesus would not murder, lie, curse another person, that he would honor authority, that he would love his enemy and do good to them. We know that he would reach out to the helpless and honor and worship the Father above all things. Those are just a few basic principles – moral principles that guide us to follow God’s perfect will. Know the Word and you know God’s heart and his direction.
2. Knowledge of God’s will comes secondly from SPIRITUAL WISDOM.
But not every decision is moral, in other words not every decision is clearly a matter of knowing right and wrong. Some situations are a win/win situation. Deciding between one college and another is not necessarily a moral decision. Whether I should I work at Target or Wal-mart is not necessarily a moral decision. Whether I should buy a house in Mankato or North Mankato is not necessarily a moral decision. Whether we should send money to this missionary or that missionary – one is not right and the other wrong. How do you decide? The Bible doesn’t tell you answers to these specific questions. How can you KNOW what to do?