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 ESV
What does Paul mean when he says, “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord?” He uses the Greek word, peripateō, which can literally mean, “to live your life.” It can also mean, “to make one’s way, progress; to make due use of opportunities.” So, in essence, Paul is telling his readers to conduct their lives in a manner that is worthy of the Lord. But what does that mean? What does a “worthy” life look like? This seems to be a favorite topic of Paul’s. In Philippians 1:27, we read a very similar statement: “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” He had the same thought in mind when he wrote to the believers in Ephesus. “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God” (Ephesians 4:1 NLT). But Paul went on to explain what he meant. “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3 NLT). There is a sense in which our lives are to reflect who we are in Christ. God saved us in order to transform us into the likeness of His Son. He adopted us into His spiritual family and made us His sons and daughters. As such, we are heirs to His Kingdom. We are joint-heirs with Christ. God placed His Holy Spirit within us in order that we might have the power we need to live the life He has called us to live. We are His ambassadors and we represent Him on this earth. So the manner in which we conduct ourselves on a daily basis is to reflect favorably on the One who saved us and has sent us into the world as His emissaries.
Which brings us back to Paul’s prayer. How are we to know what a life worthy of our calling looks like? In Ephesians, Paul describes it as one marked by humility, gentleness, patience, unity and love. But before we think we can pull off this kind of life on our own, he tells us that it is only possible as we are filled with a knowledge of God’s will. It is as we understand His will and receive His divine knowledge and understanding that we will know what it is He would have us do on a day-by-day basis. An awareness of God’s will is what provides us with direction for life. But that awareness must be followed by obedience. Knowing what to do and actually doing it are two separate things. I can know God’s will and choose to ignore it. I can decide that His will is not what I want to do. But each time I make that decision, I am choosing to live a life that is NOT worthy of the Lord. That is a serious and sobering thought. Disobeying God dishonors Him. It robs His of glory. it is no different than a disobedient child who chooses to throw a temper-tantrum in the middle of the grocery store aisle. His behavior reflects poorly on his parents. How much more so does my willful decision to disobey the will of God for my life by demanding my way instead? A life that is lived worthy of the Lord has certain visible characteristics about it. It is marked by behavior that is Spirit-driven and, therefore, not normal or natural. It will be a life that pleases God and produces the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22). That kind of life honors God because it is made possible by God. We can’t pull it off on our own. Paul reminds us, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25 ESV). But it all begins with a knowledge of God’s will. His will makes possible a worthy walk. His will makes possible a fruitful, God-pleasing life.
Imagine what might happen if we all began to pray for one another, asking that God would fill us with a knowledge of His will with all the spiritual wisdom and understanding that comes with it? And what might happen if we each began to willingly obey that will as it was revealed to us? Paul tells us we would be fruitful. He reminds us that we would be pleasing to God. And he lets us know that we would grow in our knowledge of God. That means far more than just an intellectual understanding of God. We would know His heart and learn to trust His word. We would discover just how much He loves us and has His best in mind for us. We would learn to obey more quickly and willingly. We would seek His will gladly and readily. And our lives would become glowing testimonies to the life-transforming truth of the gospel and the power of God.