9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 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; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
What does it take to become spiritually mature in Christ? Scripture is clear that we are called to become mature Christians and gives a plethroa of descriptions of how we should behave. But how are we to achieve spiritual maturity?
Paul lets the Colossians know that he prays that they will continue to mature in the Lord and lays out what that looks like. Maturity means knowing the will of God; which is to walk in a manner that he sees fit. God calls us to behave a certain way as Christians and Paul elaborates on what that behavior looks like. We are to bear good fruit and increase in our knowledge of God, be patient and joyful in endurance, and give thanks to the Father.
The church in Colossae were dealing with false teachers that taught that wisdom and power could be achieved elsewhere. Upon reading Paul’s desire for them to grow in wisdom and power, they had every temptation to rely on false teachings and even themselves to achieve the lifestyle that Paul said they were called to live.
Like the Colossians, we are susceptible to think that we can rely on the strength and power of others or ourselves to live the way God has called us to live. We strive to live out passages like these and treat them as grocery lists of good behavior, thus breeding in ourselves self-righteousness or self-defeat. When we rely on ourselves to become spiritually mature, we miss the point of what God is calling us to in the first place. This is why Paul does not just give us a list a rules but expounds, quite poetically, later through the chapter on the supremacy of Christ (Col. 1:15-23).
We must first ask ourselves why he holds us to such an impossible standard at all.
Paul says that we must give thanks to the Father because he has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. As believers, we are not only saved be grace from wrath but we have gained an inheritance. This inheritance includes the ability to walk in the light of Christ, in a manner that is worthy of and pleasing to the Lord. God does not burden us with rules that we could never achieve on our own. He invites us to share in the inheritance of holiness. Spiritual maturity is not a goal but a gift. It is the fruit of a life rooted in Christ that we are able to enjoy with God.
God does not give us a list of behaviors that we must achieve in order to be worthy of him, he gives us Jesus who through the power of the cross is able to deliver us from the domain of darkness and transfer us to his kingdom.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Paul assures the Colossians that if they do not shift from the hope of the gospel, then they are able to live in the way that God has called them.
In the same way, we are called to walk in a manner that is pleasing to God. We have the example of Christ in scripture to show us what that looks like. But we must not forget that we are only able to do it through Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us not grow weary in our striving toward spiritual maturity but give thanks to God that through Jesus we have received the gift of righteousness.
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