Paul introduces himself and reminds the church of how great they’ve been doing. But, like any good leader, he paints a picture of what he wants for them. Some of these things they have, and yet some they do not. Today (this will be a longer devotion), I want to look at what Paul wants for each of us in our faith.
“You may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”
Paul wanted us to be informed, educated, and filled with the knowledge of God’s will. We can find all kinds of “wisdom” from self-help books, Christian books stores, online articles, and even preachers. Yet, if our “next step” comes from anything other than scripture, we’ve missed the point. We should be informed and taught by God’s word. We should know and love the promises of God, and the warnings of God, and the commandments of God.
“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him.”
We learn from God’s word, not just for the sake of knowledge, but for the sake of life change. If you’ve ever met a cold religious person, you know why Paul warned them in this way. We don’t want to be self-righteous, intelligent, and cold to the needs and hurts of others. Instead, our time in God’s word should lead us to be more like him, and more in His will. If it doesn’t, we’ve studied and learned for all the wrong reasons.
“Bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
A life lived in God’s word, using our studies and pray to become more like him leads to real life change. The “fruit” of our life becomes the fruit of the spirit, and we begin to live more like Jesus did. As we live more like him, we know him better. As Paul said elsewhere, he wanted to know Christ “in his suffering.” As we live more like Jesus, we know him better.
“Being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with Joy, giving thanks to the father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
As we live more like him, we know him more. As we know him more, we are empowered and encouraged to be bolder, go further, live stronger, and sacrifice greater. Yet, we do these things in joy. We rejoice in our suffering. We embrace our sacrifices with humility. We give from a generous heart. Because we know, from knowing God more, that none of the trials or struggles of this day compare to the greatness of knowing and being with Jesus.
“He has delivered 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.”
As we know him more, grow to be more like him, and our lives look more like his, we realize that even our greatest acts will never compare to his gift to us. In this, we learn that our service doesn’t come out of an obligation, or a debt of service, but a love for one who gave more than we ever could give back. In that, God is most glorified in me as I am most satisfied in him, because of how great He is.
The goal of the Christian life is not unmerited favor, it’s not to live every day like Friday, it’s not overcoming the battlefield of the mind. Paul’s prayer for every believer is that through knowing God, his word, his promises, his Spirit in us, that we would realize how great he is in his love for us. And that our appreciation of glorifying him would lead to lives lived in humble submission to who he is and what his will would be.