Summary: God wants us to be productive by getting to know Him. He wants us to be strong through His strength to persevere, and He wants us to be grateful for qualifying us for heaven, rescuing us from hell and redeeming us from sin.
Sandy Y. of Bowmansville, Pennsylvania, talks about a time when her family was doing a devotional that included the story of the Ten Commandments. Her husband asked, “How many commandments did God give to Moses?”
Seth, their 5-year-old son, quickly replied, “Too many!” (Sandy Y., Bowmansville, Pennsylvania, “Life in Our House,” Christian Parenting Today, March/April 2000; www.PreachingToday.com)
Some people have that attitude when it comes to the church. They feel burdened with too many rules and regulations, wondering what does God really want from me?
There are a lot of preachers out there who have all kinds of answers, ready to burden people with their brand of spirituality, but who end up making people feel overwhelmed and trapped in a religious system which places too many demands on them. As a result, people feel like they could never please God, and many give up even trying anymore.
It’s a problem as old as the Bible, which addresses the issue in many places. One of those places is the book of Colossians, so If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Colossians 1, Colossians 1, where the Apostle Paul prays for a little church feeling overwhelmed by the big demands being placed on them.
Colossians 1:9 For this reason” – i.e., because of your faith, love and hope – “since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” (NIV)
You see, some false teachers had come into this little church, claiming to have a deeper, fuller knowledge of the things of God. They came with an elaborate religious system, a mixture of Jewish tradition and Greek philosophy, which fascinated some of the people even as it confused all the rest.
Well, Paul prays that these believers would have a full knowledge of God’s will, which would work itself out in true spiritual insight and skillful living. This was not the kind of knowledge that the false teachers were peddling. They were peddling a lot of head knowledge and insight into the so-called “mysteries of the universe.”
The knowledge of God’s will, on the other hand, is very practical. The word “wisdom” means skill, and the word “understanding” implies having the insight to apply what you know to solving a variety of life’s problems. And that’s what Paul prays for. He prays that they would have the kind of knowledge which would help them live their lives with skill and insight.
Colossians 1:10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way… (NIV)
When we know God’s will, then and only then can we live worthy lives that please Him.
In Bible days, gold and silver was weighed on a simple scale. One side of the scale carried a weight of known value. The gold or silver was poured out on the other side until it balanced. The amount necessary to achieve this balance was called axios – the word translated “worthy” here in verse 10. It means weighing as much as or of like value. (Van Morris, Mt Washington, Kentucky; www.PreachingToday.com)
Well, here we find that God wants us to live lives worthy of Him. In other words, He wants us to live lives that are worth His weight or His importance to the world.
So what kind of a life is that? What kind of life does God truly value? What kind of life would God say is really worth living? Well, the answer is in the four participles which follow: bearing fruit and growing (vs.10); being strengthened (vs.11); and giving thanks (vs.12).
To begin with, we must bear fruit and grow if we want to live a life that God truly values. In other words, we must…
We must do things which lead to real, worthy results. Our work must accomplish important outcomes.
Look at verse 10 again: And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way. How? By BEARING FRUIT in every good work [and] GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
Those two go together. If we want to bear fruit, we have to know God. We must be growing in our understanding of who God is. Peter put it this way in 2 Peter 1:3 – His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness… How? THROUGH OUR KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us by his own glory and goodness. We live godly and worthwhile lives through our knowledge of God.
Think of your life as a balloon. There are two ways to keep a balloon afloat. If you fill a balloon with your breath, the only way to keep it in the air is to continually smack it around. That’s how religion keeps you motivated: it repeatedly “hits” you. “Stop doing this!” “Get busy with that!”