Summary: #2 in series. Knowing what has already happened to us helps us realize that Christianity is not the same thing as self-improvement.
Colossians 1:9-14 – If You Only Knew
Today we are continuing in our series started last week on the book of Colossians. Over the next few months, we’ll be learning from the words of Paul to the church in Colosse, about how to put Christ first in our lives. Today we are in 1:9-14. Let’s read.
Now, today, I want to share with you some words of encouragement from a wise man, a Canadian icon, a paragon of virtue and truth… Red Green. (show clip) This show, about a group of incompetent men helping others with their problems, featured the many uses of duct tape and the proper and safe handling of wild animals.
The conclusion of the show, similar to this, included the motto: "Quando omni flunkus moritati", which means "When all else fails, play dead". And then, the Man’s Prayer. It’s a fairly simple thought:
I’m a man, but I can change, if I have to, I guess.
You know, change is hard. No one really likes change, well, not for themselves anyway. I think of an old “Peanuts” cartoon, where Lucy is seen saying that if she was in charge of the world, she’d change everything. Charlie says, “That wouldn’t be easy. Where would you start?” Lucy looks directly at him, and without hesitation, points her finger at him and says, “I’d start with you!”
But what about us? We are who we are, but we can change… if we have to… we guess. Today, I want to leave you with one main thought: Live your life worthy of what God has done for you. Let’s look at our scripture.
Paul starts by adding to what he had said in the previous verses: how the faith of the Colossians was growing, and God’s message of grace and truth was changing lives. Paul says that he keeps praying for the believers in Colosse. He’s praying that God would give them wisdom and understanding so that they would know what God’s will is.
Now, God’s will is a tricky thing sometimes. Sometimes it’s plain, and sometimes it’s not. Depending on what it is we’re asking, I suppose. Who does God want me to marry? Where does God want me to live? What job does God want me to take? These are big, life-changing decisions, and you won’t find the answers just by opening your Bible and hoping the answer spills out at you.
But some things are extremely clear. 1 Thess.5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” You can know that God wants you to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified…” That is, set apart for God. You have given to Jesus everything – not just your sins, but your heart as well. It is your desire to follow God 100%. That is God’s will for you. James 1:20 talks about “the righteous life that God desires.” God desires you to be right with Him, to do what is right, and to do good to others. Some things about God’s will are very easy to know.
So why does this matter? Well it matters because of the reason Paul gives that he’s praying it. He wants his readers to live lives worthy of the Lord. God wants you to live your life worthy of what God has done for you.
So what would such a life look like? What would a life pleasing to God look like? Well, Paul begins to spell it out. First, he says that bearing fruit is pleasing to God. What does that mean?
Well, think of it this way. I like having a vegetable garden. This year, being our first year here, we don’t have any soil ready for planning, so we have most everything in pots. I have my lettuce growing well, and my radishes growing well, and my onions growing great. But something I have struggled with is my tomatoes. It’s been such a cold spring that my little red beauties haven’t had much of a chance to survive. Another year I’ll work out some kind of greenhouse or cold frame. But this year, my maters aren’t doing well.
Because when you plant something like tomatoes, you expect them to grow and bear fruit. If they don’t bear fruit, you wonder what’s wrong, why isn’t it working, all that working the dirt and fertilizing and watering… all for nothing. You see, if something is designed to bear fruit, that’s what it’s supposed to do.
You are supposed to bear fruit. In John 15:16 Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.” Galatians tells us that the fruit of the Spirit, the evidence that God is working in us, is love, which is seen as joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Ephesians tells us that the fruit of the light is goodness, righteousness, and truth.