Tuesday, June 28, 2011


The heart of Paul’s prayer for the believers in Colossae (Col. 1:9-12) was his desire that they be equipped to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. The Greek term translated “worthy” is a term which spoke of “that which balances the scales.” To “balance the scales,” our walk must be consistent to and commensurate with our identity as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. The prayer has great relevance to us as NT believers and governs every aspect of our walk—what we know (our heads, Col. 1:9), what we do (our hands, Col. 1:10), and how we do it (our hearts, Col. 1:11-12). In order to walk is such a way we need to be “filled with the knowledge of His will”—we need to know where we are going and what we are doing. The worthy walk is characterized in what we do by an ambition to please God and bear fruit in good works. It is impossible for any of us to walk in such a manner in our own strength, we must instead be “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might” (Cf. John 15:4; Phil. 4:13).

The worthy walk is characterized by joy and thankfulness. It is not just what we do that is important, but how. We are to be “joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). I regularly receive email messages from a friend who has the signature line—“serving with joy.” That is God’s desire for us—he commands us to “rejoice always” (Phil. 4:4) and to give thanks “in everything” (1 Thess. 5:19). In so doing we glorify God and maintain a good testimony before others--the problem is that it is not always easy to be joyful and thankful.

Two terms in verse 11 speak to God’s provision. There are two virtues, steadfastness and patience, that are essential if we are to worship God, even in the midst of trials. The first term translates the Greek “hupumone.” Its literal meaning is “an abiding under.” Webster’s has this definition, “firm in belief, determination, or adherence.” In this context it speaks to the one who remains undeterred—amidst obstacles and challenges-- from his faith, obedience, and love to Christ. The second term translates the Greek “makrothumia.” This term is defined as “forbearance, patience, longsuffering. Vine’s Expository Dictionary distinguishes between the two terms this way: “Longsuffering (“patience” in Col. 1:12 NASB) is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish, it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy….Patience (“steadfastness” in Col. 1:12 NASB) is the quality that does not surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial; it is the opposite of despondency and is associated with hope.” The first term, “steadfastness,” speaks of patience through trials. The second term, “patience,” speaks of patience with people. And that pretty much sums up our troubles—problems and people problems.

These virtues are not native to human hearts. Our propensity is to respond to our problems in human ways by human strength with human wisdom. Such responses are typically according to the “deeds of the flesh” (Gal. 5:19-21) and work to dishonor God and undermine our relationships and testimony. Steadfastness and patience are Spirit-borne virtues (Gal. 5:22). Their presence in our lives—in the midst of troubles and trials—speaks to His presence in our lives. He is the ultimate example of steadfastness and patience, we are to follow in His steps (Heb. 12:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:20-23).

I met a fellow believer the other day and we rejoiced in the Lord together. He spoke to me of his job and other things. He told me how he once had difficulty with his boss, for a period of a couple of years. He kept praying that God would change his boss, but no change was forthcoming. But then he realized that maybe he needed to pray a different way—he started praying that God would change his own heart—and that’s just what God did. And the situation was resolved. And we thanked God together for His work in his life. In our troubles and trials are first inclination is often—“God get me out of this situation!” Instead we ought to say—“God what can I get (learn) out of this!” These Spirit implanted virtues-- steadfastness and patience—ultimately work to bear fruit in Christlike maturity (James 1:2-4).

It has been said that life is 10% circumstances, and 90% how we respond to them—by responding with Spirit-borne steadfastness and patience we walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. We joyously give thanks, ever mindful, of how we are so blessed (“{He} has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light,” Col. 1:12). Our troubles are but “momentary, light affliction” as compared to the “eternal weight of glory” He has prepared for us at the end of our journey (2 Cor. 4:17).

Pastor Jerry