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, 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. [Colossians 1:9-10]
Paul wrote Colossians to a church he had never visited before. His purpose was to reassure them that the message of Jesus they had received and come to believe was the real deal. There was no need to look elsewhere or add to Jesus with other religious practices or rules. But how will they know that for certain?
According to Paul, the key part of this that they will experience real change! The good news of Jesus changes lives and it is growing everywhere! So early on he wants to let them know that he longs and prays for them that they continue to show evidence as followers of Jesus by growing in their faith. Real followers of Jesus grow wherever they are! But in what way do we grow?
First, followers of Jesus grow to be like Jesus. Paul expresses this as living a "life worthy of the Lord". That is leading a life consistent with Jesus Christ. To be Jesus to others! Such a life will be a life pleasing to God. Where God is essentially first in our lives as he is first in the life of Jesus. It means doing things that aims to make God smile!
When we are growing we bear good fruit for God in everything. All work in our lives become good work because it is done for God! Paul emphasises work that bears "fruit". There's a lot of good things do but only God makes things fruitful - or shine out for his glory!
Secondly, followers of Jesus grow by knowing God. Growth comes by knowing God's will in everything! Knowing is prior to doing! If we don't know what God desires of us, we can't grow! God's will speaks of his purposes, desires and intentions. It is his very self! Growth is therefore about growing intimately to know God himself. Not just facts about him!
This knowledge comes about through "all spiritual wisdom and understanding". In short: God makes available all his boundless resources. These resources are spiritual because they are given by the Holy Spirit. These resources are wise because they are founded by Christ who is the wisdom of God, and are delivered by the Word of God. Growth not only comes with knowledge it also includes understanding. That is the practical outworking of God the Spirit and His Word in our lives! In our day to day work we need these resources to function and grow!
Finally, followers of Jesus grow through God himself. Paul recognises that growth cannot happen unless God himself brings it about. So he asks God for it for them! Prayer is vital for growth! In prayer we surrender to God! And Paul's praying is a good example to follow - it is urgent, consistent and outwards!
If we desire to grow we must pray. If we want others to grow we must must pray! Not just talk! A key reason Paul prayed is that He had a concept of a big Jesus as he explains later in Colossians. All Paul's prayers were big! BIG JESUS = BIG PRAYERS. Small Jesus = small prayers (and prayerlessness).
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2014