Summary: Christianity involves learning facts, doing good deeds and becoming like Christ.
I heard about a story about a man whose wife wanted to buy a pet monkey. The husband protested strongly. He said, "Where will the monkey eat?" She said, "He’ll eat at the table with us." He said, "But what will he eat?" And she said, "He’ll eat the same thing we do." He said, "But where will the monkey sleep?" She said, "He’ll sleep in bed with us." He said, "But what about the smell?" She said, "I got used to you, I reckon he will, too."
So often when we think about the need for change, we are quick to think of ways that somebody else needs to change. We are much more hesitant to recognize that there are problems in our own life that need to be dealt with. But Christianity is a growing process, a process by which we are constantly looking for those things that need to be changed and improved, and then taking steps to do just that.
This morning, I want to share with you some things that I hope to accomplish -- changes that I want to see in the congregation, changes that I want to see brought about in your individual lives, changes I want to see in my own life. In regard to our Christian lives, I think there are three areas that we need to concentrate on developing. We need to know the will of God better, we need to do more of the work of Christ, and we need to become more like Christ.
Knowing, doing and becoming -- I really think those are the three pillars of the Christian life. I really believe that’s what Christianity is all about. This morning, I’d like to expound on those three ideas as we look together at a passage from Colossians 1.
"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." (Colossians 1:9-12).
This was Paul’s prayer for the Colossians. Keep in mind that Paul was praying for a group of people he had never met before. Everything Paul knew about the Christians at Colossae was what he had heard from their preacher, Epaphras. He begins the letter with a beautiful prayer and, in that prayer, Paul made three requests that relate to these three aspects of Christian living.
I. He Prayed That They Would Know More
"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." (Colossians 1:9).
Every Christian needs to increase in "the knowledge of his will." The Greek word translated "knowledge" in this verse carries the idea of "full knowledge". There is always something more for us to learn about God and his will for our lives. I hope that no Christian would ever dare to say that he has "arrived" and there is nothing left to learn. A Christian who claims he knows it all would only be showing his ignorance.
God wants us to know his will; he wants us to understand it. We’re to be filled with the knowledge of his will. The word "filled" is a key word here. In the language of the New Testament, to be "filled" means to be "controlled by". When we are filled with anger, we are controlled by anger. To be "filled with the Spirit" means to be "controlled by the Spirit". Paul’s prayer, then, is that these believers might be controlled by the full knowledge of God’s will.
But how does that take place? How do Christians grow in the full knowledge of God’s will? We understand the will of God through the Word of God. The general will of God for all of us is given in the Bible. The specific will of God for any given situation must always agree with what he has already revealed in his Word. So the better we know God’s general will, the easier it is to determine his specific guidance in our daily lives.
So Paul prayed that the Colossians might grow in knowledge, and the way they would do that was by getting deeper into God’s Word. He wanted them to have “all wisdom” -- not that they would know everything, but that they would have all the wisdom necessary for making decisions and living to please God.