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Walking Worthy

Colossians 1:10-11

11/16/2003

We ended last week with Paul's prayer for the spiritual maturity of the believers. Paul prays for their spiritual health; their spiritual maturity. This was Paul's passion; the spiritual maturity of believers. He prayed for their spiritual needs.

Colossians 1:9 (NKJV) For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

Paul prays that they would be "filled with the knowledge of His will." The issue is not just knowledge, but the knowledge of God's will. The knowledge of God's will concerns the whole counsel of God's truth as it is found in the Bible.

The important question is how do we gain such knowledge? This is answered for us in the next statement, "in (or 'by') all spiritual wisdom and understanding."

These words - knowledge, wisdom, understanding - call to our attention the fact that we must use our minds to grasp the truths that God has revealed. The mind plays a key role in God's plan for growth. Spiritual intelligence is the beginning of a successful, fruitful Christian life.

Through his prayer in Colossians 1:9, Paul has charged us to be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. To be so filled is, in essence, to be filled with God Himself and to begin to experience His fullness--His character, peace, comfort, power, and purpose .

In this regard Paul teaches:

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NKJV) For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

According to this passage, what are we? We are earthen vessels that God has designed to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the person and work of Christ. But when this occurs in us, it will result in transformed lives, lives that manifest the power of God in Christ-like living. Thus, in Colossians 1:10-14, Paul points us to the kind of fruitful life that is the designed end of a being filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Colossians 1:10 (NKJV) that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

With these words, Paul directs us to the intended result of being filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. "That you may walk..." is an infinitive in the Greek text, which may point to either the purpose or result. It seems logical that the infinitive points to the intended result of knowing God's will. That this clause points to the intended result stresses a vital truth; without the knowledge of God's will, it is impossible to walk worthily of the Lord. The intended result of God's truth is a changed conduct.

"Walk" is the Greek verb peripateo, which means: "to walk, live, conduct one's life." It literally means: "to walk about or around." While peripateo is used in the New Testament of one's literal walk, it is often used metaphorically of one's behavior, conduct, of the way one lives. The Christian life is compared to walking. Walking becomes a visual aid to teach us how to live. Throughout the Bible, we are exhorted to walk in a manner worthy of our calling:

Romans 13:13 (NKJV) Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.
Ephesians 4:1 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,
Colossians 1:10 (NKJV) that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

Learning to walk worthy is a matter of Biblical instruction. It is neither natural nor innate. Without the Word, there is simply no way any of us are going to be able to walk as we should. The ultimate aim of being filled with the knowledge of God's will is to influence all of one's conduct day after day.

"Worthy of the Lord..." is the adverb axios, which means: "worthily, in a manner worthy of, suitably." Paul is not saying that we can become worthy of God's love and grace by our good works or manner of life. No matter how hard we might try, we can never walk in a manner that makes us worthy of the Lord's love or salvation. I'm not talking about trying to earn our way into heaven. The Bible tells us that we can only get to heaven by the grace of God:

Romans 3:24 (NKJV) being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

The word "justified" means: "to declare righteous." It a legal act on the part of God. We see here that we are justified "freely by His grace." The word "freely" is the Greek word dorean. It means: "for nothing, gratuitously, giftwise, or with out a cause." The cause of our justification is in God and not in us. The word "grace" means: "free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgement." "Freely by His grace" is redoubled to show that the act of justification is all of God. Nothing in this act of justification belongs to, or proceeds from man. Salvation is a work of God.

To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord means to walk in a way that is fitting and consistent with who the Lord is to us, and what the Lord has done, is doing, and will do for us. The idea is something like: let your walk be the kind that brings credit to the grace of God in Christ.

The result of being filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding is that we may walk worthy. We see this same idea in:

Ephesians 4:1 (NKJV) I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

The first three chapters of Ephesians deal with doctrinal matters. We have been seated with Christ in the heavenlies in Christ. Then chapter 4 begins, "walk worthy of the calling with which you were called." That's saying basically the same thing as Colossians 1:10. We must first understand God's will, His word, before we can walk worthy.

Our walk is our testimony. The Christian's testimony is like a young woman's reputation. It takes a long time to build but a very short time to lose it. Once we lose our testimony it takes a long time to build confidence in us again.

We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord "fully pleasing Him". As we seek to live the Christian life by His matchless grace, it is tremendously important to keep in mind the all-important goal of pleasing the Lord and bringing honor to Him.

"Pleasing" is the Greek noun areskeia, which is found only here in the New Testament. Nevertheless, it comes from the verb aresko which Paul uses fourteen times in his writings. An important point to note about this word is that aresko describes an attitude that is the driving force behind one's actions, whether a false or proper attitude.

This word "pleasing" was used originally in the negative sense of a "yes-man" in extra Biblical Greek. This person is willing to do anything to please a benefactor. The Bible does not use this word in the sense of a cringing attitude. "Pleasing" implies anticipation to meet the desires of God. It is the willingness to do any wish the Lord may please. It is the desire to fulfill what is eternally due to God.

How strong is your desire to please God? What are you willing to sacrifice, what pain are you willing to endure that you may live in a way that is pleasing to God? The Lord Jesus Christ lived his whole life with the aim of pleasing God:

John 8:29 (NKJV) "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."

That is an incredible statement, "I always do those things that please Him." Can you say that? Can you say, "I mostly do those things that please Him"? How about "I sometimes do those things that please Him"? Or is it, "I seldom do those things that please Him"? As Christians, we are called to imitate Christ, we are called to live our lives to please God. Is pleasing God important to you? This is a legitimate question, because Paul said pleasing God was his aim:

2 Corinthians 5:9 (NKJV) Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.

And Paul admonished other believers to live in a way that was pleasing to God:

1 Thessalonians 4:1 (NKJV) Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;

When I talk about pleasing God, we must make a distinction between our position and our practice. As believers, we stand "righteous" before God. The good news of the Bible is that our debts were paid in full by Jesus Christ. And not only has the Christian's debt been paid in full, there is no possibility of going into debt again. Jesus paid the debt of all our sins; past, present, and future. This is GRACE!

So, when I talk about pleasing God, I'm talking to Christians about how they live. We are to live in such a way to please God by all that we do. Sometimes people feel that they're not doing what God wants them to do with their lives. Sometimes people do weird things because they think they're doing what God wants them to do. But we don't have to guess, the Bible makes it clear what it is that pleases God. Pleasing God is not something that can be done once and for all and gotten out of the way on a Friday evening so you can go and do as you please on Saturday morning, like mowing the lawn or something. Pleasing God is a way of life.

Let's look at a some specific things that the Bible says are pleasing to God, and then we'll know if our lives are pleasing to Him. What would you say is the number one thing that we can do to please God? The Scriptures make it very clear that FAITH pleases God:

Hebrews 10:38 (NKJV) Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."

God says that to not live by faith is to not be pleasing to Him.

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NKJV) By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

There is no way we can live a life that is pleasing to God without trusting Him. God wants us to trust Him. Apart from faith, we cannot please God.

Thousands of believers have trusted Christ for their salvation, but are not living in faith; trusting God in each and every area of their lives. We should be people who live by faith. Everyday and in every way we should be trusting God in our daily lives. But are we? Do we really trust God? When you are hurting, and your life seems to be coming apart, do you trust God?

When we fail to trust God, we doubt His sovereignty and question His goodness. God views our distrust as seriously as He views our disobedience. When the children of Israel were hungry, which was a trial, they spoke against God:

Psalms 78:19-21 (NKJV) Yes, they spoke against God: They said, "Can God prepare a table in the wilderness? 20 Behold, He struck the rock, So that the waters gushed out, And the streams overflowed. Can He give bread also? Can He provide meat for His people?" 21 Therefore the LORD heard this and was furious; So a fire was kindled against Jacob, And anger also came up against Israel,

Why was it that God was so angry with them?

Psalms 78:22 (NKJV) Because they did not believe in God, And did not trust in His salvation.

In order to trust God, we must always view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith. Faith pleases God.

Another thing that we know pleases God is Obedience. The Bible tells us that God takes pleasure in our obedience.

Colossians 3:20 (NKJV) Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.

Believer, do you understand this? Obedience pleases God, and disobedience displeases Him:

1 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV) But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
1 John 3:21-22 (NKJV) Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. 22 And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.

Now, the only way we're going to know what obedience and disobedience are is if we spend time in the Word of God. What do you suppose would be the greatest act of disobedience? It would be breaking the greatest command, would it not?

Matthew 22:37-39 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment. 39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

Loving one another is an act of obedience that pleases God. But we will not know how to love others if we don't spend time in the Word of God.

Prayer is something else that pleases God:

Proverbs 15:8 (NKJV) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

"The prayer of the upright is His delight" - Please hear this believer, God delights in our prayers. God is the kind of God who delights most deeply, not in making demands but in meeting needs. Prayer is his delight, because prayer shows the reaches of our poverty and the riches of his grace. Prayer is that wonderful transaction where the wealth of God's glory is magnified, and the wants of our soul are satisfied. Therefore, God delights in the prayers of the upright. Is your prayer life pleasing to God?

Paul writes that we are to be "Fully pleasing Him". "Full" has the idea of "In all respects" and points to all the spheres of one's life - spiritual, mental, emotional - and all the various areas of one's activities - family, church, occupation, recreation, entertainment, hobbies, government - wherever life may take us. Our tendency is to compartmentalize our behavior in such a way that we let God take charge of some areas, but try to keep Him out of others. This kind of thinking displeases the Lord and fails to honor Him as God.

Pleasing the Lord stands opposed to the worldly mindset that primarily seeks to please oneself or that seeks to please others but for the wrong reasons. Paul's threefold use of aresko in Romans 15:1-3 summarily describes what is involved in a life that seeks to please the Lord:

Romans 15:1-3 (NKJV) We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."

Stronger Christians are warned against pleasing themselves at the expense of the weaker brother or sister in Christ. The attitude that should control and direct the Christian's life is that each must please his neighbor, but always with a view to his neighbor's good, specifically, his spiritual edification. The model for such behavior is the Lord Jesus who, refusing to please Himself, pursued the Father's plan regardless of what it cost Him.

Look back over the past week. Was your life pleasing to the Lord in all respects? Think about it this way: If Jesus Christ was personally, bodily, visibly going to spend the week with me, would I have done what I did? Would it be pleasing to Him in all respects? How does this ability come that allows us to walk in a manner worthy to please Him in all respects? By being filled with the knowledge of His will, with spiritual wisdom and understanding. God's truth is so much a part of my very being that it becomes, if you will, the spiritually natural thing for me to do.

In the last half of verse 10 thru verse 12, Paul describes four directions a worthy walk that pleases the Lord will take. Certainly, there are other Christ-like qualities every Christian should manifest, but these four illustrate the kind of character that should be found in the Christian whose desire is to please the Lord.

Colossians 1:10-12 (NKJV) that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

The four participles here will bring a little more specific attention on what it means to be pleasing to the Lord in all respects, and each is modified by a prepositional phrase. The four participles are:

1. Being fruitful in every good work,
2. Increasing in (or by) the knowledge of God,
3. Strengthened with all might, and
4. Giving thanks to the Father.

All the participles are in the continuous present tense and describe what should be the pattern of life for those who walk in a manner that pleases the Lord.

1."Being fruitful" is the Greek word karpophoreo, the same verb used in verse 6. For Paul, fruitfulness is the product of God's work within us through fellowship with Him by means of the Spirit and His Word. "Being fruitful" is a continuous present. This not only reminds us that our lives are to be constant sources of fruit for the Lord, but the continuous present calls to mind the ongoing work of the Father as our spiritual vine keeper. He is constantly at work to take us from no fruit, to fruit, to more fruit, to much fruit as He seeks to cause us to abide in the Vine, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Life (John 15:1-7).

"In every good work" marks out the sphere of fruitfulness. We are to be fruitful or productive in every good work.

2."Increasing" is the Greek auxano which means: "to grow, cause to grow, increase." It was used of plants, of infants, of increasing numbers as in a multitude, of the increase of the gospel, and of Christian character or spiritual growth.

"In the knowledge of God..." this modifier most likely points not to the sphere, but to the agent that causes the growth, the knowledge of God, which has its source in the Word. It is this Word that is alive and powerful that contains within it the power to transform the believer's life (Heb. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:13).

Knowing God intimately and personally through His holy, inspired, and inerrant Word is a necessary element of spiritual growth. Naturally, this is not simply talking about intellectual information about God. Paul has in mind an intimate personal understanding of God.

Knowing our human tendency to lean on our own resources, the apostle now describes the third aspect of the worthy walk that pleases the Lord:

Colossians 1:11 (NKJV) strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

3. "Strengthened with all might" - the power of God is one of the great themes and propositions of the Bible. Through Christ, God promises us power and strength for every situation of life, yet our tendency is to trust in ourselves as though we were sufficient, which we are not.

To stress the power available to us, Paul uses three Greek words for power in 1:11. This serves to stress at least two things: that God's power is more than sufficient for anything we might face, and that our human strength is not only insignificant by comparison, but totally insufficient in the spiritual and moral conflict we face in this life. Literally, the text says: "With all power, being constantly empowered according to the standard or measure of the strength of His glory."

"With all might" is emphatic because of the word order, and emphasizes what's available to us in Christ. It points to what God wants us to experience. The Greek word is dunamis, "power, might, strength, force." Our word dynamite comes from this word, but dunamis is not an explosive kind of power like dynamite. It speaks of inherent ability that carries the potential to perform or accomplish a task. Paul's prayers contain a strong emphasis on our need of the inherent power of God that He has made available to us in the Lord Jesus.

"Strengthened" is dunamoo: "to make strong, strengthen." It's a causative verb and comes from dumamis. It carries the idea of making strong something or someone that is inherently weak. Further, the participle is in the present tense and points to the steady access of strength, the constant source that is available to believers in Christ.

Then, "...according to His glorious power" directs our focus to the standard or measure of the power with which God strengthens us. "According to" means: "the standard, the measure by which something is done." "Power" is the Greek kratos, which speaks of God's power and is used only of God in the New Testament. It speaks of manifested power, power put forth in action, specifically, the historic acts of God as in creation, with Israel, and especially in the person of Jesus Christ. It also speaks of a power that overcomes some form of resistance like the resistance of sin, of Satan, of the world system, and of death (spiritual and physical). Thus, "according to His glorious power" stresses the limitless source, the infinite power available to us in the person of Christ.

Now notice carefully what we are strengthened for, "For all patience and longsuffering with joy." The text literally says, "unto of all steadfastness and longsuffering." God's power is for producing at least two, or maybe three, Christ-like qualities - patience, longsuffering, and joy. The Greek of the passage seems to make it clear that power is being prayed for to the end of giving them "...all endurance and patience with joy."

"Patience" is the Greek word hupomone, which means: "endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance." This noun comes from hupo, which means: "under," and meno, which means: "to abide, remain." It speaks of remaining under a trial without giving in; of an ability to endure or remain or be steadfast regardless of the intensity and length of the testing. Hupomone is used in relation to the various kinds of trials that we all face in life as human beings: sickness, pain, financial loss, death of loved ones, warfare, physical and spiritual weaknesses, and persecution.

There is always a temptation to give up when things get difficult. Hupomone has the idea of: "to remain under pressure or trials." It means continuing even when everything inside you wants to quit.

With "longsuffering" Paul lists another quality. The Greek term here is makrothumia, which means: "long suffering, long in compassion, even-temperedness." It comes from makros, meaning: "long," and thumos, meaning: "passion, temper." In its use, this word is directed more toward people or our relationships with others. It means: "long tempered, not easily provoked into angry words," or into some form of retaliation or revenge. Makrothumia is the Christ-like virtue that is manifested in the face of some form of provocation. This word is used of God in His relations with mankind; He is longsuffering and enduring in His patience with man, forgiving and treating them in grace.

The word "patience" conveys the idea of having an infinite capacity to be injured without paying back. It is used with regard to people, not circumstances. It's having a long fuse. Paul says that patience is a mark of love:

1 Corinthians 13:4 (NKJV) Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;

The loving person is able to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person and yet not be upset or angry. This love is very slow to anger or resentment, and it never retaliates.

Abraham Lincoln gave us a good example of makrothumia. One of Lincoln's earliest political enemies was Edwin M. Stanton. Fosdick points out that no one treated Lincoln with more contempt than did Stanton. He called him, "A low cunning clown," he nicknamed him "the original gorilla" and said that Du Chaillu was a fool to wander about Africa trying to capture a gorilla when he could have found one so easily at Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln never responded to the slander. And when, as President, he needed a secretary of war, he chose Stanton. When his friends asked why, Lincoln responded, "Because he is the best man for the job." Lincoln treated Stanton with every courtesy. The years wore on. On the night of April 14, while attending a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, Lincoln was shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth. In the little room, where the President's body was taken, stood that same Stanton, and, looking down on Lincoln's silent face, he said through his tears, "There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen." His animosity was finally broken by Lincoln's patient love.

The goal of steadfastness and longsuffering is so different from the typical reasons people generally have for desiring God's strength. We want healing from our diseases, miracle cures in our relationships, sudden deliverances from our life-dominating patterns, but above all, we simply want God to remove our problems with the pain they bring. And when do we want this? NOW, of course! In fact, yesterday would have been better!! Unfortunately, as Christians, we are often indifferent to the purposes that God has in suffering both in us and in those around us.

The Biblical emphasis is upon power for "endurance" and "longsuffering." We are strengthened with "all power" and "according to His glorious power." It takes God's power to endure circumstances and to be longsuffering with people. Our natural tendency is to become easily upset at our fate or at people. God's power is important for us to overcome this tendency.

There is a lot of debate whether "joyfully" (meta charas; lit., "with joy") should be construed with "endurance and patience" (KJV, ASV, RSV, NEB) or with "giving thanks" (NIV). I like what Wiersbe has to say:

God's power is evidenced in our lives not only in our patience and longsuffering, but also in our joyfulness. When circumstances are difficult, we should exhibit joyful patience; and when people are hard to live with, we should reveal joyful longsuffering. We often use the words joy and happiness interchangeable, but a distinction should be made. Happiness often depends on happenings. If circumstances are encouraging and people are kind, we are happy. But joy is independent of both circumstances and people. The most joyful epistle Paul wrote was Philippians, and he wrote it from jail as he faced the possibility of being martyred for his faith. (Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Complete (Victor Books, Wheaton, Ill., 1986), 42)

4. "Giving thanks to the Father" - learning to live by praise or thanksgiving is a key element in steadfastness and longsuffering, and in all areas of the Christian life, because it turns our focus from ourselves to Almighty God. This pattern is seen throughout the Psalms. So important is thankfulness that it is mentioned four times in this short epistle, and in all but one, the thanksgiving is made to God as our Father. We are to be thankful for the awesome blessings that we have through the person and work of Christ. We'll look more at thankfulness next week.

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