Living God’s Will
Kerry S. Doyal - Grace Ev. Free Ch - www.GetGraced.org
Take a deep breath and say it with me: “Apostle Paul picked some pertinent participles. Some prime participles, Apostle Paul picked. If Providence provided us with such powerful products, let’s prudently pick apart these particular participles, please.”
Nicely done. Allow me to explain.
If God described a life that pleased Him, one worthy of Him, would He have your attention? If you knew which way to go in life, His will for you, would it capture your heart? Take note: When God shows us His will, He desires and designs that we live it.
In a letter to the baby Colossian believers, a group craving special spiritual insights, the Apostle Paul prays they would be filled with a knowledge of God’s will so they will live in a way that is worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all respects. Great prayer!
With four potent participles (remember those mysterious “verbal adjectives”?), Paul proceeds to point out the particulars of a life that pleases God. Now this kind of “secret knowledge” is worth pursuing! Let us parse out these pertinent participles for a path that pleases God. First, pause and read the prayer a few times.
He prays they would “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12 - NASB).
Did you see them? “Bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all power, joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Let us consider each briefly.
Doing God’s will includes fruitful, productive, Christ-like lives. Not just busy for God, nor just doing well, but being about matters that matter for the Master. This is fruit of both the internal (Galatians 5:19-22; John 15:1-7) and external variety (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2 & 3).
The sheep and goats of Matthew 25 are different not because of their wool, but their works. As Henry Van Dyke wisely relayed: "Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except the best." Sing, man, sing! (Read Matthew 7:21ff.)
Do you still have a childhood-level, Vacation Bible School-based knowledge of God: all stories, little substance? Have you confused simple faith with being simplistic, petty divisive doctrines (preferences) with foundational deep truths? Are you any further in your grasp of God’s character than you were last month, year, decade?
A worthy life is one that increases in the knowledge of God. Ignorance of God, His will, His word and ways ain’t bliss (see Hebrews 5:11-14). Are you striving to know Him more deeply (Philippians 3:8-12)?
Edward Bedore rightly wrote: “The knowledge of Christ's love for us should cause us to love Him in such a way that it is demonstrated in our attitude, conduct, and commitment to serve God. Spiritual maturity is marked by spiritual knowledge being put into action.”
Our third participle is passive: “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience.” God wants to empower us to have endurance and forbearance. This speaks of an unlimited power: it is according to “His glorious might” (Colossians 1:27, 28; Philippians 4:13-19). Yo! “Tool-Time” Tim Taylor, talk about more power!
It also tells us of a purposeful power: to attain steadfastness and patience, endurance. By God’s grace, we can avoid Samson-it is: raw, untamed power. Instead, we can attain forbearance and patience (1 Corin. 13:4; 1 Thess 5:14; 2 Pet. 3:9).
God wants to enable you to handle tough places in life (steadfastness) and tough people (patience). When tempted to walk away from hard heads or hard knocks, God says “Hang tough, I’ll empower you for the long haul.”
Last of all, we are to be “joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Thanksgiving certainly pleases Him: a proper, humble, joyous recognition of all He is and has done for us. When we remember that He has “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light,” we ought to give thanks (from which we get the word Eucharist).
How did God qualify us to have a part in such an inheritance? Read on, or listen further to Paul’s prayer: “For He rescued 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.” God ran a rescue mission for you to adopt, redeem and forgive you – give thanks with joy, daily, hourly.
“Bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God,S trengthened with all power, joyously giving thanks to the Father.” Such a life shows one knows and follows the will of God. This life pleases Him in every dimension. It is a life-long pursuit– press on (Philippians 3:8-12)!
Use these four participles as a test and guide as you seek to lead to a worthy walk (Ephesians 4:1-6; 5:1, 2, 8). Make them a matter of prayer and focused spiritual discipline. I commend to you two great reads by Jerry Bridges: The Pursuit of Holiness & The Practice of Godliness (both Nav. Press).