A few years ago, if someone had asked me what it meant to live a "life worthy of the Lord," or a life that would "please him in every way," I would have said being a good Christian.
That has meant many things over the years.
As a teen, that meant no sex, drugs, or alcohol, no cigarettes, going to church, and not swearing.
As a young wife, that meant no drugs or alcohol, no cigarettes, going to church, not swearing, and being a Sunday school teacher (or serving in some other way).
As a young mom, that meant no drugs or alcohol, no cigarettes, going to church, not swearing, being a Sunday school teacher (or serving in some other way), and raising well-behaved kids.
I didn't read the Bible much in those days, at least not its entirety. I didn't even realize there was a New Testament passage that addresses this topic directly.
Colossians 1 lists four things that constitute a life that pleases God.
First, a worthy life bears fruit in every good work.
What is fruit? And what are good works?
First, I would say that good works could be defined as things we say we are doing for God or to serve or benefit others.
A lot of passages address the topic of fruit.
In John 15, Jesus says, "I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you remain in me, you will produce fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing."
* Here, fruit appears to be growth. New life. Change.
* Similarly, in Colossians 1:5 says the gospel is "bearing fruit and growing."
What is produced through my acts of service, to God or to others? Are lives changed? Are people drawn to God?
Fruit can also be used to represent our own changed lives. Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit of the spirit. You know, the love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faith, patience stuff. The stuff that's so hard to maintain in my own life.
The thing with fruit is, we can't manufacture it on our own. God does the producing, through his Spirit, by remaining in Christ.
Second, a person living worthy life grows in the knowledge of God. Knowledge of God is more complex than learning a lot of things. This knowledge comes through study of God's word and also through experience his presence and through worship. We do not know God unless we
Third, a person living worthy life is strengthened with all power according to God's glorious might so that he or she has great endurance and patience.
It would be nice if Paul could have just stopped with strength and might. I don't necessarily want strength so that I can endure and so that I will have patience. That pretty much implies that I will need endurance and patience, and I don't want to have to need them.
Finally, a person living a worthy life gives thanks to the Father, who has qualified him or her to share in the kingdom of light. Why because we have been delivered from the dominion of darkness.
I like the phrase "dominion of darkness." However, I don't like to think about needing to be rescued from that realm. I don't like to picture myself as having been "alienated from God," or being an "enemy in my mind because of my evil behavior" (1:21).
But it's true. I live in a kingdom of light, I share in the inheritance of the saints, I am a child of God, because of Jesus' sacrifice, because I am delivered from the "dominion of darkness."
I must remember this and give thanks.
I want to live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way. It just doesn't look the way I thought it would when I was younger. It's much harder. It requires "spiritual wisdom and understanding," which come from God.
This post is long, and yet it seems incomplete.
I want to include something about how to do this, not just what it is.
The thing is, I must be completely dependent on God to please him. Maybe that's the point.