Summary: Living in our identity as appreciated saints.
“I Am Appreciated”
In a series called “I Am” when we’re talking about ourselves, I realize there’s a danger of our egos getting involved, especially when the title is “I Am Appreciated”. But remember Paul is talking to people that he sees as saints who are completely faithful and love each other. The point being that when Paul says he appreciates you, or when God says it for that matter, it is only because you are faithful to Christ and are bearing his image. It really has nothing to do with you other than the fact that you are his creation, rather it’s about who you are wearing and who lives in you. When you claim and live out this identity, when you are in Christ, then you are appreciated.
So Paul in his continued excitement that we saw last week gives us another long run on sentence in the Greek. Many call this Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving and it shows Paul’s love and appreciation for the Ephesian believers, who we now know he considers to be saints. He’s still giddy, still talking without taking a breath and he says, “I don’t ever stop thanking God for you and praying for you”. And Paul I believe. When I say I’m always praying for you, or someone says that to me, it has some merit, but I know for sure that when Paul says this, especially as he sits in prison, that he is constantly praying for these people.
Why is he so appreciative of them? And of course as an apostle of God he represents God’s appreciation of them as well. It seems to be because he has heard of their faith and love toward all the saints. This gives us an insight into what God finds important in his saints. We talked about this a couple weeks ago. Two things specifically that are to distinguish us as God’s saints are our faith and total dedication to follow Jesus, and our love for each other. It’s not just because we said a prayer to accept Christ’s forgiveness. Clearly God has little use for unfruitful Christians, they get pruned and cut off the vine.
And today we are going to see what he is praying for these people. We see how much he appreciates them, we see why he appreciates them, but what does he want for them, and what does that make them? He says he prays that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you these things, and I believe that Paul would know the truth from experience, of what Jesus meant when he mentioned in Matthew, Mark, and John that if you believe, whatever you ask God for in prayer, in the name or character of Christ, it will be given to you.
So let’s get right into the first thing he mentions in verse 17.
Appreciated People are Given Wisdom (v. 17a)
First look at how the trinity is included here. Some people have a problem seeing the phrase, “Father of Glory, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ”. But isn’t Jesus God? Yes, but in regard to position especially when he took on human form, he is in submission to the Father. Jesus is the perfect image of God on earth, therefore he will only do what the mind of God says. Then the third member of the trinity is mentioned as the Spirit of wisdom. God blesses us through Christ, by the Spirit.
This wisdom is clarified in Colossians 1:9 as referring to Knowledge of His will. Real wisdom is practically knowing what God’s will is in every situation and how to apply it. And it’s only possible by His giving of the Holy Spirit. What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 2, “No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God…” and he finishes that passage with, “We have the mind of Christ.” As Christ had the mind of his father.
Now all of this is really saying that:
Appreciated People Know God (v. 17b)
By the giving of the Holy Spirit we are able to know God because He is revealed to us when we receive the Spirit of wisdom. In verse 18 we see a very interesting statement that we have the eyes of our hearts enlightened. We don’t see God or spiritual things with our physical eyes, but with our hearts. The book of Hebrews talks about this enlightenment and another verse 18 in Acts chapter 26 records Jesus saying when he zaps Paul, that he is actually sending Paul to the Gentiles to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, in other words repent.