Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Colossians 1:9

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Alright for all of those who read this, I'm back on the Colossians study. I have been stuck on this verse for a while now. I just can't seem to get past it! Verse 9 has so much to it, and I'm going to do my best to unpack it.

In the first part of this verse, it says that Paul and his companions had been praying consistently for them since the day they heard of the Colossians' reception of the Word of God. Again this shows the amazing heart of Paul...he was a man of prayer. He lived out I Thessalonians 5:17, "pray continually." This convicted me because I've realized that my prayer life is fairly inept. I mean, yes I do pray, but do I consistently come to the throneroom of grace? No. Do I consistently venture into my secret place to meet and commune with God? No. I do find myself, probably others do too, rattling off a Santa Claus-like wish list prayer, then make a mental check mark in the empty box in my head...Pray...check, done and done, then go about my daily business. Persistence in prayer and taking time to listen to God are things I struggle with. However, this is something I truly long for and God is birthing in me. In Psalm 109:4, David says, "but I am a man of prayer." I want to be known by this, not necessarily by other people (although that would be nice as well...not in the prideful sense), but more of an internal confidence where I know every aspect of my life is bathed in prayer. Nothing happens except through prayer. God's will for your life cannot be fulfilled except through a prayer-filled walk with the Lord.

Then in the latter part of this verse, Paul specifically asked that God would give them full and exact
knowledge of all His desires for them. The Greek word translated "knowledge" is epignosis. This word can mean "full knowledge, a super-knowledge or a more precise knowledge." Paul refers to a full and comprehensive knowledge of God's will that rests on the knowledge of God and of Christ. Gnosis ("knowledge") was a favorite term of the gnostic philosophers (Gnostics - pretty creative name, huh?), and Paul undoubtedly had them in mind when he prayed for epignosis for his readers. The Gnostics in Colosse were evidently promoting what they called a deeper knowledge attainable only by the privileged few. The false teachers promised the Colossian believers that they would be 'in the know' if they accepted the new doctrines. Words like knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual understanding were a part of their religious vocabulary, which is possibly why Paul used these words in his prayer. The "will" (thelematos) of God is what God has revealed in His Word to be correct regarding both belief (faith) and behavior (works, morality, etc) -- See also Col. 4:12, Acts 22:14, Romans 12: 2. In the broadest sense, the will of God is the whole purpose of God revealed in Christ. One of the most desirable objectives of believers must be to know God's will. So, this knowledge included wisdom (the broadest term covering the whole range of mental faculties) and understanding (how to apply wisdom in specific cases).
'Wisdom' and 'understanding' probably should not be treated separately but should be looked on as expressing a single thought, something like practical wisdom or clear discernment.

As I mentioned above, I have been stuck on this verse for weeks. Not only for the "Lord let me be a consistent prayer" aspect of it, but also because of the word "all;" that God would fill you with the knowlegde of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Could the "all" here refer to the many different ways God reveals Himself and His will? Avenues such as His voice, the Word, prophetic words, dreams, visions, and other believers to name a few. So when we ask for wisdom, should we also ask for these avenues? I don't think we need to concentrate our specific prayers for them, but rather recognize the fact God can reveal His wisdom in whatever form or fashion He prefers, and also that He will reveal it in His own timing. This part can be frustrating because we as humans in our Western mind-set, need to know things now. We don't like not knowing. God longs to reveal His will to us. In Ephesians 1:9-10 it says, "And He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into full effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment." What we can take from this is that it is God's pleasure, it is His joy, to reveal His will for our lives. It is something He longs to do. But, He will reveal this mystery when the times have reached their fulfillment. This is where persistence in prayer comes into play. We must know that His timing is perfect! A personal example of this (and I'm not blowing smoke up my rear) is that I prayed for years and years for a reason why God allowed difficult things to happen in my life. But, 10-some odd years later, 1999 to be exact, (in Valdosta, GA while a young lady named Janet Shealy was speaking), a clear voice spoke to me, "Justin, this is why these things happened..." I was overwhelmed with joy and peace. Did I question God for His timing? No. I realized later on that summer why He waited until then to answer my prayer. His timing was perfect! Why do we doubt and get frustrated? It's hard I know. But, as Proverbs 15:23 says, "how good is a timely word!"

I've realized that I wrote a good bit here, but I have so much more to share on wisdom. It will have to wait until my next post because I know that readers tend to zone out and lose interest when they are reading something long (at least I do...which is why I didn't do very well in English class!). Anyway, until next time...

Grace and peace.

No comments: