March 13, 2021
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. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way. (Colossians 1:9-10)
The concept of study can evoke a range of different responses. For the academically minded, it brings a sense of excitement; such people love to learn about, contemplate and discuss deep topics, even if such thoughts and discussions remain firmly in the realm of the abstract. For the more practically minded, this makes the concept of study off-putting; why would we spend our time engrossed in books, when our practical service can make a much more tangible difference to the world around us? These verses in Colossians challenge both of these viewpoints.
First, Paul shows us that the true study of God’s Word should lead us to live more fully in line with God’s will. The end goal of studying God’s Word is therefore not to enlarge our minds, but instead to lead us to live a life worthy of the Lord and to please him in every way (v 10). This concept of true study is therefore not abstract, but deeply practical. Perhaps a good question to reflect on is: when was the last time that reading God’s Word led to a noticeable change in how you live your life?
Second, the study of God’s Word is a necessary part of growing to be more like Christ. I think it is striking that Paul doesn’t only pray that God would help the Colossae Christians to more fully live a life worthy of the Lord. Paul knew that only when these Christians’ minds were filled with the knowledge of God’s will, would they naturally live in light of it. For the more practically minded among us, are we committing enough time to study God’s Word, to fuel our acts of practical service?
For many, the concept of studying can sound daunting, and brings back bad memories of school, where maths equations and scientific formula seemed completely incomprehensible to us. What hope do we have of understanding the God of the entire universe and his will, if we couldn’t understand even these simpler and less ambitious topics?
But these verses in Colossians bring us hope. Even though understanding and knowing the God of the universe and his will is completely beyond us by our own strength, God has given believers his Spirit. As Paul comments in 1 Corinthians 2:11, For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Hence with the Spirit’s help, seeking to know God’s will more fully is not an unrealistic goal. It was this knowledge that led Paul to not stop praying for the Colossae Christians (v 9). I wonder then, are we praying regularly that God would fill those around us with the knowledge of his will through the Spirit so that we as a church would grow to live more like the Lord Jesus? As Paul shows in these verses, this will not happen without God’s help!
Dear Father, thank you for the gift of your Spirit, so that through the wisdom and understanding that he gives, we can know you and your will more fully. As we read your Word, make us more aware of our own inadequacy in understanding it and hence more committed in asking for and depending on your help. We pray that more and more we would be a people who delight in your Word and we ask that as we read it, you would be convicting and changing us to live lives more worthy of you. Help us to grow to love you more, so that we would live to please you above all. Amen.