Pray To Walk Worthy
...walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him...
– Colossians 1:10
I'm excited to finally get to the third and final article in the A Prayer For The Saints series. If you missed the previous two articles, I encourage you to read them first:
In this series, we are looking at Paul's prayer for the Colossians found in 1:3-14.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
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, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
In the first article, we looked at how Paul’s example pushes us to come to God with an attitude of thankfulness and that we should come to him in prayer often.
Then in the second article, we looked at what Paul prayed for his brothers and sisters in Christ. He began with praying for a change in our minds. He prayed that we would be filled with the knowledge of God's will.
Now as we continue, we see how Paul prayed that the change in our understanding would have a deep and significant impact on us.
PRAY FOR A CHANGE IN OUR ACTIONS
As Paul continues his prayer for the Colossians, he asks God for the change that is accomplished in our minds to penetrate so deep that it would become a change in how we live. Let's look at what kind of changes he prays for and then let's commit to pray them for one another.
We should pray for one another that we will live our lives in a worthy manner that pleases the Lord.
...so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. – Colossians 1:10-12
Again, Paul is coming before God asking that all this changing in our knowledge and understanding would produce something in us. It is vital that we do not overlook the little word "so" at the beginning of verse 10. Paul is about to connect a change of our minds to a change of actions. A change in what we understand about God, to a change in our desires to live for him. It is important to get this. If you want a changed life for yourself, and for others, you need to plead with God for a transformed and renewed mind. A mind that knows God.
We need to spend time getting to know God through prayer and the study of his word. Remain steadfast in your prayers, asking God to expand your view and understanding of him. The more we see who he is, the more we will love him, and the more we will desire to walk worthy of him.
So as these deep changes in our minds and understanding happen, we should see a change in us. We should begin to walk worthy of our Lord and please him. So what does it mean to walk in a manner worthy? Paul expands the concept in his prayer by giving us three qualities of this kind of life:
In a moment we will dig into these three things, however, before that, I want to talk about walking worthily in a more general sense.
Let’s start with a question: Is walking in a manner worthy of our Lord a matter living our lives in obedience to what God has commanded? I imagine most people would say yes, and I would agree. However, let’s press the question a little more. How do we fully please the Lord? Is fully pleasing him only a matter of the use of our hands and feet to accomplish a task? Or is there more involved?
Hebrews 11 teaches us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Then in Romans 14, we see that anything we do that does not include faith is in fact sin. So we cannot deny that to live a life that is fully pleasing to God, faith must be engaged.
This naturally brings another question: What is the connection between faith and obedience? Specifically, why must faith be present in our obedience to please God and how does its absence cause our obedience to actually turn into sin?
I believe the answer is rather simple when you think about it. Consider this reality. Whatever strength a person relies on to accomplish something, that is what will receive glory for his accomplishment. Consider when an Olympic athlete earns a gold medal. People will glorify him and his ability. However, if the athlete tells every interviewer, "I had no ability to do this! I could never have done it! I was hopeless without my coach guiding and instructing me. He gave me everything I needed to win the gold medal! He is the one to praise." Now the glory is given to the coach.
It is not a perfect illustration, but you can see how the athlete pointed the glory to where it belonged. He did not rob the coach of his glory.
When it comes to God, it is never pleasing to the Lord to rob him of his glory, and that is exactly what we do when we try and follow him with our own white-knuckled willpower, rather than trusting him in faith. When we refuse to trust him in faith, we are trusting in ourselves and attempting to insert our own glory over his. That my friend is sin.
Now, with that in mind, let's look at the three things Paul says are characteristics of a walk worthy of the Lord.
We should pray for one another that our lives will bear fruit as we walk in good works.
…bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God – Colossians 1:10
So what is the fruit that Paul talks about here? I think you can sum it up as the result of a life that trusts, loves, and follows God.
Let's take a look at some of the types of fruit that kind of life produces.
Fruit of the Spirit
...fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23
A life that loves and follows God will be connected to the Holy Spirit. It will find these qualities in their lives, growing out of faith and love toward God.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16
A life that loves and follows God will shine before others in good works that result in others glorifying God. Again, this can only happen when our works flow from our faith, and not our own strength.
Leading Others to Christ
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 18-20
Another result of a life lived for Christ will be the sharing of the gospel and the making of disciples.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. – Hebrews 12:14
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
A life saved by God will produce a life changed by God. There will be a change in what we do, how we live, and what we love. We will strive for holiness and find ourselves at work in the things God has called us to.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. – John 4:23
When we see God for who he is–the beautiful, holy, and satisfying treasure of our lives–and that Jesus died to bring us back to him, praise will naturally erupt!
So pray for each other that we bear fruit. Pray for each other that these things flow from faith in God!
Now, before moving onto the next quality of a life worthy of the Lord, I think it is worth pointing out that Paul also adds increasing in the knowledge of God to this idea of bearing fruit.
…bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God – Colossians 1:10
I find this very interesting. As we walk in a manner worthy of God, specifically in bearing fruit, we find him to be faithful and true. I believe what Paul is getting at here is an idea of experiential knowledge. There is a difference between when we read something that we believe is true, and we then act on it and find it to be true experientially.
When someone sings “Christ is able” and has gone through something where God has proven himself able to them, it is drastically different than someone singing it who has never tried resting on Christ’s strength over their own.
A life that is producing fruit, will be experiencing God’s faithfulness to his word, which will increase our faith in him, that will produce more fruit. It is a beautiful cycle of growth in the Christian life!
We should pray for one another that we would endure by God’s strength in us.
Strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might. For all endurance and patience with joy. – Colossians 1:11
How are we strengthened to endure? By his glorious might and not our own! This friends is an act of grace from our God.
God’s grace is not limited to his choice to save us while we did not deserve it, but also his ability to empower us to live the life we do not deserve to live! (1 Corinthians 15:10)
As one pastor said, grace is pardon and power!
It is his power, his glorious might, that makes ALL endurance possible. Paul also adds here two qualifiers to that endurance
Patience and Joy
Can you endure without patience and joy? Of course you can. You can endure a long line at the checkout while grumbling the whole time. You can endure cleaning up diaper rash cream your two-year-old smeared all over the walls of his room, but trying and add patience to that is a different story.
It takes massive amounts of strength, that we ourselves do not have and cannot muster, to endure with patience and joy.
So how do we do it? We preach to ourselves that we have a faithful God, a living hope, and an eternal destination.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We can be patient, because, in the big picture, this life is but a vapor. We can have joy because we can trust that God is working something from it.
So pray for an eternal perspective that gives us patience and joy as we trust in God for the strength to endure.
Finally, we should pray that our walk that is worthy of the Lord is filled with thankfulness.
…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:12-14
The last portion in this prayer is a delectation of what Christ has done and a plea for thankfulness in it. If you are living a life that is striving to love and follow Christ, filled with faith in him and not trust in your own strength, having an eternal perspective to endure, and knowing you once walked in darkness and have been brought into the light, redeemed, forgiven, and are under the rule of a good King, how will you not be thankful?!
The only way you will not be thankful for those things, is a lack of knowing them or experiencing them. That is why it all starts with God opening our hearts and minds to see, know, believe, and experience more of God!
So pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ to have richer and fuller views of their own salvation and of the God who saved them.
I hope that you have enjoyed this series as much as I have. It has been very eye-opening to explore this prayer by Paul and I hope it will shape both mine and your prayers to go beyond the service and into matters of the heart! May we pray for our deepest need, the need to be made into the image of Christ.
Read more from this series and others here.