Devotional # 144. 7/6/15. Colossians 1:9.
Intro. Last week’s Devotional was on verses 3-8, when we talked about Paul’s love for the people in Colossae (called the Colossians). We talked about WHO – the guy that had planted the church (Epaphras) had made the long journey to Paul to talk to him about the threat of “the Colossian heresy.” We talked about WHEN – Paul, Timothy and others had been praying for this church since they first heard about it. We talked about WHY – they loved and were concerned for the church because they share heaven as their final destination. And we talked about WHAT – that the good news of Jesus was going out into all the world, for every person and that God would work out great “fruit” in them, if they were willing.
This week we’re only going to focus on verse 9, where Paul focuses on the WHY of the letter and the love. Let’s read the verse below and then talk about it:
Colossians 1:9: “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;”
“For this reason“. What reason does Paul mean? It is from the “” of verse 5. This is “the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” and Paul seems to use this as his focus for this section of verses. We should never under estimate or minimize the importance of our citizenship in heaven. It is a great and wonderful thing – it is the “hope” that we have otherwise what point would we have in going on living? But how is God preparing us for heaven? Are we supposed to enter in in the same mindset as we had in the world? Or will God prepare us while we’re still on earth?
“since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you”. This is a restatement of verses 3-4 (“…praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus…”). So why would Paul need to restate this? Because it’s true and important. Paul and the other Christians haven’t stopped praying for them since the first day they heard the good news of a church being planted in Colossae. This is very encouraging to hear that you and your church are being prayed for all the time! Paul recognizes that there is no greater power on earth than to humble ourselves and ask the God of the universe to fulfill His will.
“and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will”. The request that is made to God is that the Colossians would be “filled” with “the knowledge of His will.” Notice Paul doesn’t say ‘that you would know God’s will’, instead he says that they would be “filled” with this knowledge. Think of a cup that is “filled” to the top, if you try and move it or if the table it is sitting on is bumped it will spill. In the same way we can be “filled” to the top in the knowledge of God’s will. But this means that if we are “picked up” or “bumped” that this knowledge pours out of us! It is not only continually “filling” and fulfilling for our lives but it is poured out and shared with others! So what is the “knowledge of His will”? The “knowledge of His will” isn’t a complete understanding of every decision and future act that God’s will decrees – that is impossible for a human to fathom. Instead it is an understanding of the ramifications of God’s will. If you don’t know how God’s will operates then when a family member suddenly dies or you lose your job, you will blame God or become doubtful of His goodness. This happens a lot because we are biblically illiterate and don’t know what God’s will looks like. Often we foolishly think the devil’s actions are God’s and think that we control certain aspects of our lives and the world around us. We waste days and years of our life angry or hurt or trying to incorrectly help others and really we just make it worse. But when we have a proper “spiritual understanding” we’re in tune with God, balanced in our lives and we actually help others. So where do we get this “knowledge”? Let’s look at the last phrase…
“in all wisdom and spiritual understanding“. The “knowledge of His will” is given in “all wisdom and spiritual understanding”. So it is not found in “worldly understanding” and it is not found even in “partial spiritual understanding” but instead in “all” spiritual understanding. So first, the Holy Spirit teaches us things (“knowledge”) and then He gives us “wisdom”, which is the application of the knowledge we’ve learned along with experience. The Holy Spirit teaches us things when we study the Bible, learn from more mature Christians and experience joys and trials. Once there is some foundational spiritual knowledge and life experience then the Holy Spirit can start teaching the “wisdom.” I like one commentator’s definition of spiritual wisdom: it is “to discern what on each occasion is suited to the place and the time” (Source 1). So it’s being able to wait for the right time, to say the right thing. But why is this important? Matthew Henry answers, “Our knowledge is then a blessing indeed when it is in wisdom, when we know how to apply our general knowledge to our particular occasions, and to suit it to all emergencies” (Source 2).
Conclusion. Today Paul has brought us back to our end goal: heaven. But God is preparing us before we get there. Not just in becoming better or nicer people, but in “filling” us “in all knowledge and wisdom” about His will. The Holy Spirit will teach us knowledge about God’s will and then He will teach us how to correctly apply that “wisdom” to our lives.
This really clears things up for me and I hope it does for you also. If you have questions or comments on this I’d love to hear them. Have a great week!
Source 1: Bengel, via A.R. Fausset, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/Col/Col_001.cfm?a=1108001
Source 2: Matthew Henry, http://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Col/Col_001.cfm?a=1108001