Characteristics Of A Maturing Christian (Colossians 1:9-14)
Colossians 1:9-14 NIV
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way:
bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God,
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father,
who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Some Characteristics Of A Maturing Christian (According to Colossians 1:9-14)
1. Verse 9: “Being filled with the knowledge of God’s will through ALL of God’s wisdom and spiritual understanding.” WOW! God wants to help us see the world, reality, ourselves, others, etc. as HE sees them (i.e. from HIS perfect perspective and not from our myopic mindset). One of the lies of the serpent in Genesis 3:4-5 was that God was being selfish, that God was unfairly holding back knowledge from Adam & Eve because He didn’t want them to be like Him. To be fair, God HAD good reason to hold back certain knowledge from Adam & Eve, just as most parents don’t tell their small children that there are millions of microscopic bugs crawling on their skin every moment and that there is no way to completely get rid of them! That knowledge would do no good to little kids. God does reserve certain Truth just for Himself (Deuteronomy 29:29)–but it is ALWAYS for our own benefit, the LORD ALWAYS has a great reason for it; it is NEVER because God is somehow frugal, tightfisted, or Scrooge-like in His benevolence. What a blessing that verse nine in Colossians chapter one reveals the true heart of God: to share with us everything–His knowledge, wisdom, understanding…even His Son Jesus!–to help us grow closer to Him and to help us introduce Him to others. There’s no “secret sauce”/”family recipe” with God–He is the ultimate Sharer.
2. Verse 10: “Bearing fruit in every good work.” Equally staggering–and another proof that God is The Great Sharer–is the fact that after we receive Jesus as our Savior, God wants to live in us and transform us from the inside-out so that we develop many of HIS CHARACTERISTICS over time! SERIOUSLY?! YES! The Holy Spirit wants to teach us over time to produce His fruit in our daily lives (Galatians 5:22-23)–
-being truly patient,
-exuding genuine kindness,
-having unshakable peace,
-consistently choosing to sacrificially love God & others (e.g. to put God’s desires before our own and to put others’ needs before our own),
-being truly good (not goody-goody, but GOOD!; not having a thin/plastic/fake veneer of goodness but being solid wood…solid GOOD!),
-being gentle (i.e. being strong but also having control over that strength)
-being constantly faithful (loyalty to God & others/fulfilling promises we have made to God & others),
-having true self-control in all situations (not flying off the handle/harming others like an activated fire hose with no firefighter to control it).
What a promise! What a gift! Just think for a few moments what it would be like to have the above characteristics each day. Think about how much more amazing life would be as we handled daily circumstances in the power of God and with His qualities! YES!
Furthermore, God wants us to participate with Him in EVERY GOOD WORK–both public and private, both miraculous and mundane, both spontaneous and strategized–as He reveals Himself to the world, as He invites sinful humans into a forever and forgiven friendship with Him! God has a part for us–He has cast us in small but important roles in His great drama of offering forgiveness to a dying world. Think about that for a moment: how amazing to be chosen personally by the Creator of the universe! He prepared these roles–these good works–in advance for each of us (Ephesians 2:10), just like a coach draws up specific plays for specific players. WOW!
3. Verse 10: “Growing in the knowledge of God.” This is a little different from point #1 above (like a slightly different facet on the same glorious diamond) but still awe-inspiring: God wants us to grow in our friendship with Him every day! He doesn’t want us to be His acquaintance and He certainly doesn’t want us to only be His servants; He wants us to be His adopted sons and daughters, indeed, His personal friends (John 15:15)! According to Jesus Himself in John 17:3, this is the very definition of eternal life–that we know God the Father and God the Son, even closer than a husband and wife know each other after fifty years of marriage! And He doesn’t only wants us to learn facts about Him, although that is part of knowing God–He wants us to know Him personally…since He is a PERSON! He is not a cold cadaver to be clinically contemplated but a living LORD to be loved! He is not a philosophy to be pondered but a faithful Father to be followed! He invites us into Himself experientially (lived-out knowledge) and intellectually (propositional knowledge/Truth). WOW!
4. Verse 11: “Having great endurance and patience” through all of life’s challenges. Another powerful characteristic of a maturing follower of Jesus–God teaching us over time to patiently endure all of life’s challenges/pain/trials. HE WANTS US TO MAKE IT…to not just survive but also to thrive. “I [Jesus] came so that they can have real and eternal life…more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10 The Message). “I [Jesus] have come that they may have life…and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV). What a thought–God is not like some teachers who make tests so difficult because they want to see us fail, because they sinisterly want to show that THEY are still the smartest person in the classroom. But God tests us to strengthen us…to develop us…to build us up and to prepare us for more testing. He is secure in the fact that He is God–He does not need to hold us down to make Himself feel good. He generously and graciously wants to truly adopt us as His true sons and daughters and then teach us to live like true sons and daughters of God…princes and princesses of heaven…worshiping Him alone in spirit and in truth! And this includes enduring the valleys–and the mountaintops–of life in this broken/sinful world. I don’t want to expire…I want to endure. I don’t want to extinguish…I want to ignite. I don’t want to fizzle…I want to flare up! I don’t want to smother…I want to smolder! How glorious that God wants this for me too.
Also keep in mind what it will take for us to have great endurance and patience through life’s trials: ALL the power of GOD’s glorious might. Sobering…humbling. That’s how difficult life will be at times for Jesus-people–we will need ALL of God’s power and might in us, through us, and around us. Truly Jesus was serious when He said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
5. Verse 12: “Joyfully giving thanks to God the Father” in every circumstance. Counter culturally AND counter intuitively, God wants to teach us to thank/praise Him not only in easy times but also in difficult times! He wants to develop in us lasting joy (which is produced by an unshakable inner faith in God) as opposed to temporary happiness (which is produced by momentarily favorable external circumstances). Oh to have such faith in God…oh to learn that “secret” of being content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13)! While the earthly road to learning this may often be sun-scorched and uphill, what a glorious heavenly destination to someday reach: full maturity in Christ Jesus!