9 For this reason, 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. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience (Colossians 1:9-11 NIV)
So, the purpose of this letter (and the Bible as a whole) is not just so we can have more knowledge, but so we can live in a way that is pleasing to God. Now comes the question: How?
It’s easy to say “Live right.” It’s often really difficult to pull it off. How do we do it? Well, this section (Colossians 1:9-11) gives us a four-step process.
First is knowledge. While knowledge isn’t the goal of Bible study, it is the starting point. We all have a fallen nature, which includes a messed up mind. What we naturally think is the right thing often isn’t. (Don’t believe me, just look around at what people are trying to pass off as “good.”) So, we start by learning God’s principles and standards, gaining the knowledge of his will. (v.9b)
But knowledge by itself isn’t overly helpful. Have you ever met a person who has tons of knowledge but is helpless in the real world? Someone who can’t apply their knowledge to real-life situations? Knowing how to apply knowledge to life is called wisdom, and if we’re dealing with knowledge of God, what’s needed is spiritual wisdom and understanding (v 9c).
After we’ve figured out how to apply Bible truths to life, the next step is to do it. To live a life worthy of the Lord… bearing fruit in every good work. (10). In other words, once you know what to do, do it.
Now, our problem is that we often stop there. And then we’re surprised when we keep coming up short. But we shouldn’t be. Remember when we said we needed God-knowledge at the start of the process so we’ll know what’s truly right instead of just what feels or seems right.
Well, God’s part doesn’t stop there. His Spirit is the one who helps us translate knowledge into “spiritual wisdom,” and He’s even the one who “is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NLT). In other words, our knowledge comes from Him, our wisdom is a gift from Him and our obedience is empowered by Him.
But wait, there’s more!
See, living like Christ is hard. If you’re like most people (and you are), there are always forces working against you, from a culture that puts up billboards tempting you to sin (be it coveting or lusting), to friends and co-workers pulling you away from God, to your own sinful nature that makes you want to quit or give in.
Which brings us to the final piece, the one we tend to overlook. We need to be strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience (11). And where do you think that power, endurance and patience should be coming from? Of course, from the same One who gives us knowledge, wisdom, and the ability to obey. God.
I guess now would be a good time for some discussion starters: Of the four—knowledge, wisdom, power and endurance—for which one are you least likely to depend on God? Which is easiest? And what “tricks” have you learned along the way to help you depend on God instead of yourself?