[10] 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 1:10

To all preachers, have you ever prepared a sermon and then scrapped it and started again? I have many times, and this is my second attempt at this blog, I was just not happy with the first one, maybe you might think give it a third go!

So, in this one, I want to look with you at these two challenging prayer points of Paul’s where he prays that the church in Colossae might “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” and “fully pleasing to him”.

Paul prays about the need to walk, “in a manner worthy of the Lord,” he has used similar language in his other letters so we can see the idea is important to Paul.

[27] Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Philippians 1:27

[1] I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

Ephesians 4:1

[12] we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:12

With the strong emphasis here in Colossians on, “bearing fruit in every good work” you could easily get the wrong idea and assume that Paul is speaking about putting effort in, deeds and works. Paul is not saying that by our efforts and deeds and commitment do we prove ourselves to be worthy of God or worthy of the salvation he offers, as if it were by our merits that we gain eternal life. Paul is not suggesting that we should strive to earn a place in God’s favour or that by our good deeds we put him in our debt such that he is obligated to acknowledge our efforts and reward us accordingly. This is the opposite of the gospel of grace that we find throughout Scripture.

The focus in Ephesians 1 is on the worth of our calling, not our personal worth. The focus in Philippians 1 is on the worth and value of the gospel of Christ, not the people who believe in it. In 1 Thessalonians 2 the point is that God is worthy of our complete and unqualified dedication and devotion. And so here in Colossians 1 the idea isn’t that we are worthy by virtue of how we walk but that we should walk in a way that reflects or displays how much he is worthy of such obedience on our part.

Our magnificent God and the marvellous and undeserved kindness that is ours in the gospel are of such infinite value, so high and beautiful and full of glory, that we should always live in such a way that it be known. Our lives, by his grace, should reflect positively on God.

People should walk away from having seen us saying, “My goodness, what an incredible God they believe in and follow. These people have been with Jesus (Acts4:13).

Our aim is not for us to evoke congratulations by our works but praise and admiration of who He is! Jesus, the cross, the gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, are worthy of lives that reflect on their value alone and not ours. What our lives should do is point to him and not to us.

The second thing Paul prays for is that the church in Colossae might live lives that are “fully pleasing to him” in all things.

A better translation is probably something like “to every type/sort of pleasing,” or “to please him in all respects.” Whereas it is God the Father who fills us with the knowledge of his (God the Father’s) will (vs 9) the “Lord” (vs 10) whom we please is probably Jesus.

This is one of only a few places in the New Testament where the word occurs. There are verses like, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8), and “how to please the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32).

If you have time have a look at Romans 15:1-2, Galatians 1:10 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

In secular Greek this word “pleasing” often meant the behaviour by which one sought to gain a favour, and therefore was most often employed with a negative connotation meaning insincere flattery. You did it to get attention or to get noticed. Or in the hope that once noticed you might move up in rank or position or favour. This is not the pleasing we have here, and I hope not your way of pleasing.

This pleasing, is a pleasing to God. Our walk and good works make God happy. They evoke his pleasure. They incite joy in his heart. God is not devoid of emotions. He feels great delight in good deeds (and displeasure in bad ones; see below). So we hold in tension such verses as…

[20] Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, [21] equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

So this “pleasing” works like this; When God takes pleasure in our good deeds he is rejoicing in the work of his own grace and power! He is the one who works in us what pleases him. Thus, in rewarding our works God is crowning his own grace!

The other thing to keep in mind is that if our good works please him, our bad ones displease him. On more than one occasion the book of Proverbs speaks of certain deeds as being an “abomination” to the Lord. I can’t think of anything more horrendous than a life that God regards as an abomination.

The great difference, of course, is that all good works that please him are the result (ultimately) of his gracious power working in us, whereas all bad works that displease him are our responsibility, for which we need to repent.

I am praying Pauls Prayer for myself and for you.