This chapter serves as an introduction to his letter – like the other letters to the different churches, it begins with a quick summary of the gospel and Paul’s work.
Although it may seem that the message in this chapter is very simple, verses 9 to 12 effectively remind us of how we should approach living our day-to-day lives and, more importantly, the mentality we should adopt.
9…We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light…
In this section, Paul highlights and draws the link between two aspects of our lives: (1) our relationship with God and (2) how we should approach and perform the tasks we are faced with.
From this passage, our goals are to:
- Bear fruit in every good work
This has always been something that I have found difficult to apply. We are often told to glorify God in everything little thing that we do. This verse is another reminder that, somehow, every action we do should ‘bear fruit’. The image I get from ‘fruit’ is the fulfilment of His command (to love others) and to spread the gospel to save others.
- Give joyful thanks to the Father
This is giving recognition that what we have is provided by Him. If we can fully appreciate that what we have and experience is bestowed upon by Him, then it becomes easier to trust God to surrender to Him the control over our lives and to remain positive even in trying times. ‘Joyful’ is also an important part of this verse – our gratefulness should be out of joy, not out of duty. This can be achieved by really knowing God’s involvement and scheme in our lives.
Paul tells us HOW we should seek Him and how to fulfil the goals above:
- By relying on the Spirit to know the His will
The Holy Spirit exists all around us all time and we often forget how easy it is to simply ‘ask’ or to invite the intervention of the Spirit. The will of God can be imparted to us through the Spirit and this verse tells us that we can receive this guidance through simply listening to what He has to say to us.
To put this in context, I believe that as long as we are willing to listen, the Spirit will teach us how to face the different aspects in life: to deal with challenges at work, to communicate with different people throughout the day or in serving at church.
- Growing in the knowledge of God
This is simply referring to one of the oldest ways in the book – by reading God’s word. I have heard many many times that as we seek to know more about Him through studying and meditating the word, we will be opened up to new revelations and understandings. The more we seek, the more we find.
By getting the approach right, we will be ‘strengthened with all power’ by Him – in particular, giving us ‘endurance and patience’. Again, something that I have heard in church many times over the years is that we achieve these qualities NOT by our own strength but by the strength He GIVES to us. All we must do is ask for it.
… and by doing this, we will be able to ‘live a life worthy of the Lord’ which will ‘please him in every way’ and in effect: ‘share the inheritance’ in the kingdom.
These couple of verses may seem simple, but it nicely sums up the Christian lifestyle.
TL;DR: seek Him by the Spirit and his Word -> get strengthened -> bear fruit in our lives and remain thankful to trust in Him