Read Colossians 1:3-14
In Colossians 1 Paul prays that the believers in Colossae would be “filled with the knowledge of His will”. He hears of their faith and love and the testimony of God’s work in their hearts and community, and he wants them to keep going and keep growing (that rhymes). So he is asking God that they will be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
How often do we pray for someone asking that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will? Why doesn’t he pray that God would protect the Colossians or that He would help them overcome this or that hardship, heal them from some sickness, or provide for some material need, or help them decide between certain opportunities, or even that they would be able to bring many others in their city to faith in Christ? These are the kind of things we usually pray for, isn’t it? What’s so good about knowing God’s will anyway? Why should that be something to pray for, something to ask for, something to desire? Besides, didn’t they know God’s will already? Believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, be kind to each other, don’t smoke, etc., etc.?
The reason Paul prays this, methinks, is because it is the key or the doorway to growing in their salvation. As it says in Proverbs, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. In these verses, Paul seems to lay out a series of statements in a logical progression starting with knowing God’s will.
First of all, he qualifies what he means by God’s will. It’s not the kind of knowledge the Pharisees had; it’s one of spiritual wisdom and understanding. An understanding of what God is doing, what He wants, what He commands. An intimate knowledge that takes revelation by the Spirit. A deep understanding of the why’s and wherefores of His will. Think of what Jesus says in John 15:15, “I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from the Father.” A master tells his slaves what to do and he does it without knowing why or what his master is thinking. But a friend tells him why what it’s all about and we join him in His purposes. When we know that… then we can truly please Him.
Hence the next part of the flow of logic, “so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects”. Then the way we walk, the way we live, behave, our conduct… will accurately reflect the worth of the Lord. All that we do in any moment, any situation, any activity would be pleasing to Him, pointing to the all-surpassing value of this God whom we serve.
And what is pleasing to Him? The next few words, “bearing fruit in every good work”. That we would make a difference in people’s lives, our lives produce something useful, nourishing, life-giving for others.
And then also pleasing to Him? That we would be “growing in the knowledge of God”, of the living God, the source of all goodness and righteousness and life. This all comes by walking in His will, which we can only do when we know His will. Consider what Jesus says in John 41:21, “The one who has my commands [i.e. knows His will] and keeps them [i.e. does His will] is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him [In what way?] and will reveal myself to him.” The intimate knowledge of God comes from the revelation of God that He lovingly gives when we do the will of God.
Then, Knowing and obeying Him, we are “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might”. Strengthened with His power, not our own. His power is available to us IN His will, not outside of it. But if we walk according to His good pleasure, it’s His work and His life that is accomplished in us. And what He does lasts forever – His life is indestructible. His strength in us when we are fulfilling His purposes. So we walk with full confidence and security when we know that we are in His will, knowing we have all the power of God in us to accomplish His goals.
This strength is “so that you may have great endurance and patience, joyfully giving thanks to the Father.” His glorious might is given for the purpose of perseverance, patience, joy and thankfulness. To weather the storms of life, to bear up under suffering, to continue in endurance when we don’t yet see the fruit, or when we face many adversaries who work in opposition to the Lord’s will, and even to stand up again and keep walking after we’ve failed and sinned. We continue in joy – even thankfulness – in all things because we are assured of His love and the ultimate destination that His will is taking us, knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we get to “share in the inheritance of the saints in light”. In His will, we experience the fullness and certainty of these promises, and with our minds set on things above we overwhelmingly conquer… the strength to walk through life with fortitude and gratitude.
But… the knowledge of His will is the first step toward all these things, where it all starts. And that is because it’s only in His will that we find this eternal quality of Life. Surrender to what pleases Him, not ourselves, is where, in the end, we find our own delight. That’s why if you lose your life for His sake (“not my will, but yours be done”) then you will save it. That’s why man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. That’s why for Jesus, His food was to do the will of Him who sent Him. Food is nourishment, sustenance, satisfaction… life. And that’s why Jesus ONLY did what He saw the Father doing. By looking to His Father in all things with a pure heart Jesus was completely and perfectly filled with the knowledge of God’s will, in all the wisdom and understanding of the Holy Spirit living in Him, and He walked perfectly worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, and knew His Father perfectly as though they were One. He was strengthened with all the power of His Father, for attaining all perseverance and patience, so that He had the strength even to offer Himself upon the cross, yet he was always full of joy and thanksgiving. And His delight, His reason for all of it, was “for the joy set before Him” to bring many to glory, His inheritance in the saints. That was God’s will for Jesus, God’s will in Him. He wants us to know Life like that too and share His joy with us. As He said to His disciples in John 15:10-11, “If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” That doesn’t sound so bad!
What, I wonder, is His will for us then? Whatever it is, His specific purposes for each of us, His will in each moment, in every detail of every day, that is for each of us to discover daily and minute-by-minute by coming to Him in His Word, listening to His Spirit, and surrendering to Him in everything. But we know that it will always be “good, pleasing and perfect”, (Romans 12:2).
So why did Paul pray that they be filled with the knowledge of His will? Because He loves them deeply and He wants the best for them, and He loves the Lord and wants His goodness and beauty to be seen by the world. He’s seen the Collosians’ faith and he knows what it means for them and all believers if they keep on hearing God’s Word responding in faith and continue walking in His will. It means for them nothing less than the abundance of life that His Lord Jesus Christ died and lives to share with them, and who wouldn’t want that?
“So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord (a.k.a. Master, the one who’s will we serve), continue to walk in Him, being rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.”
So let’s listen closely to the Spirit and pray for one another that we would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, a clear and immediate understanding of what pleases Him in every moment and part of our lives so that His joy may be in us and our joy may be made full.
By: Kevin Galbraith