The Key To Pleasing God.
Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. – Colossians 1:10 NLT
I don’t think I’ve ever met an individual who claims to be a Christian who hasn’t somehow aspired to live a life that is pleasing to God. In fact, most of us as believers know that our lives should be markedly different than those of non-believers. We recognize that God has a higher standard for us. So we go out of our way to try and attempt to live in such a way that our lives somehow bring glory to Him. What we usually end up with is some list of do’s and don’ts that we use to determine our behavior and, ultimately to measure our degree of spirituality. Here’s the formula most of us work from: More good behavior + less bad behavior = holiness. So we attempt to increase certain things in our life that we understand to be good, while eliminating other things that might hamper our holiness because they’re inherently bad. So we read our Bibles and we give up smoking. We attend church and stop hanging out at bars. We listen to Christian music instead of rock or rap. But too often we miss the whole point. We can’t actually increase our holiness through behavior modification. We can’t sanctify ourselves any more than we could save ourselves.
That’s why this passage in the very beginning of Paul’s letter to the believers in Colosse is so important. He is writing to Christians and is confident that they have had a saving encounter with Jesus Christ. He refers to them as “God’s holy people” (Colossians 1:2a NLT). He has heard great reports regarding their faith in Jesus Christ and their love for one another. And he offers up a prayer for them at the very start of his letter. That prayer is insightful and gives us a great glimpse into what Paul understood about the key to living a godly life. Notice that the verse above starts with the word, “then.” Some translations use the words, “so that” or “in order that.” But the idea is the same. Paul is telling the believers in Colosse that if they want to live lives that honor and please God, and if they want to live lives that produce every kind of good fruit, there is something they are going to have to have before that can happen. And that ingredient is made clear in Paul’s prayer for them. “We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Colossians 1:9 NLT). Paul tells them, “we have not stopped praying for you…” and the content of those prayers have been that they might know God’s will and have spiritual wisdom and understanding. Those things are not just “nice-to-have-them-if-I-can-get-them” kinds of things. They are the keys to living a life that honors and pleases God. They are non-negotiables to to fruitful living.
Paul knew that in order for the believers in Colosse to live godly lives they were going to need to know the will of God. They were going to have to understand what it is that God desired for them. Over in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul wrote the Thessalonian believers that God’s will for them was to be holy – set apart, devoted to God. His will for all believers is that they live lives that are distinctive and different, characterized by the Spirit’s presence and God’s righteous requirements. One of the primary ways in which we can know God’s will is by reading and obeying God’s Word. The Bible is the revelation of God and gives us a glimpse into His character and His expectations of mankind. As believers, we have the unique combination of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Word of God that provides us with a way to know God’s will, and a means to receive spiritual wisdom and understanding. Together, they provide us with divine insights into the will and ways of God. When I know His will and gain spiritual wisdom and understanding from His Word, I have what it takes to live a life that will always honor and please Him. I also have what it takes to produce the kind of fruit He is looking for.
Paul offered up a similar prayer for the believers who were living in Philippi. “I pray that…you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – for this will bring much glory and praise to God” (Philippians 1:9-10 NLT). He prayed for knowledge and understanding. He wanted them to know and understand not only God’s expectations, but His provision. God makes the life of holiness possible. He provides us with salvation and then gives us His Word and His Spirit to aid us in the pursuit of sanctification. When we discover His will through His Word, and rely upon His Spirit to empower us to obey what we see and hear, our lives end up bearing fruit that is Spirit-produced. Paul describes that fruit in Galatians 5. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT). That kind of fruit honors and pleases God because it is fruit that is the by-product of His presence in our lives. We can’t manufacture it on our own. So when it shows up, it is proof of His presence in our lives.
So if you want your life to honor and please God, producing fruit that is of divine origin, then you will have to know His will and possess a wisdom and understanding that is not of this world. That will require time spent in His Word. It will demand a submission to His Spirit’s leading. It will take a willing obedience to and trusting faith in His will for your life. And it all starts in the Word of God. Go there. Spend time there. Get to know Him there. And “you will grow to know God better and better” (Colossians 1:10b NLT).
Father, never let us lose sight of the fact that Your Word is essential for living a life that honors and pleases You. We can’t know Your will part from Your Word. We can’t get to know You well if we refuse to spend time in the very book that reveals Your character to us. May we grow increasingly dependent on Your Word and Your Holy Spirit’s leading, so that our lives might honor and please you, producing fruit that proves Your powerful presence in our lives. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men