“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
Explanation of the Text: In my study this morning, I was reading Mark Johnston’s thoughts on the text and he said this: “If hearing God’s word read and proclaimed becomes an exercise in self-gratification, it has not accomplished what God intends through it.” Having a relationship with Christ through the Word should always result in some sort of reaction. If one is reading the word simply for the sake of gaining head knowledge, then the effort becomes a waste of time. Like one who examines himself in the mirror, God’s word is a tool meant for teaching, rebuking, correcting and encouraging in order to mold a person into the image of Christ (James 1:23-24; 2 Timothy 4:2). Therefore, when we spend time studying Scripture it is not done so simply to gain knowledge, but to gain wisdom (see yesterday’s devotion on Colossians 1:9 for more on the difference between the two). While knowledge is learning about something, wisdom is applying that knowledge in everyday living. What we see today in Colossians 1:10 is the very wisdom that Paul is expecting of people.
Paul’s writings are often calls to sanctification in which he is expecting readers to not only read what he is writing to them, but that they will somehow respond to that writing with a heart change that will ultimately be reflected in an outward change. In verse 9, Paul is praying that the people will be filled with the knowledge of the will of God. For what purpose? The knowledge of the will of God is meaningless if it is not acted on in some way. Paul specifically states that his expectation is the Colossians, when filled with this knowledge, will walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing to Him by bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God.
Walk conjures up the same terminology often used in the Old Testament in connection with the commands of God. For example, in Leviticus 18:4 it states: “You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the Lord your God.” The word walk was meant to indicate that this was to be a lifestyle. Walking worthy of the Lord is not simply a one-time act, but rather is a continuous way of living. That is to say that obedience to the commands should characterize a person’s life. Characteristic of Paul’s writing is not simply to walk, but to walk worthy. He uses this phrase also in Ephesians 4:1 and 1 Thessalonians 2:12 (likewise in Philippians 1:27 he says to live worthy). To walk worthy “demands a right lifestyle in accord with the Lord.” The idea is for believers to walk in accordance with Him. As the Lord commanded in Leviticus 20:26, be holy as He is holy. Walking worthy is the only right response that a person can have simply out of awe of who God is. “Believers are called to have the proper response in light of the might acts of God in their lives.” Sheer thankfulness for the works of God should be reason enough to walk worthy, which would be a very act of worship of a God who is deserving of all praise and worship.
The results of walking worthy are manifested in two ways. It will result in the production of fruit and a growth in the knowledge of God. The mark of every believer should be evidence of fruit in their lives, which is a byproduct of righteousness, resulting from the knowledge. This is seen in the connections that are made throughout Scripture between true believers and bearing fruit. John 15 exemplifies this concept quite clearly in that the Father is glorified in the fruit produced, which is proof of being a disciple (John 15:8). This particular passage not only indicates one is to bear fruit, but it tells readers how to bear fruit, which is only by abiding in Christ (John 15:4-5).
The second result from walking worthy will be manifested through growth in the knowledge of God. The word for knowledge is the same as that found in verse 9, which indicates not simply a mere a head knowledge, but rather a knowledge through experience or relationship with Him. Specifically here, that knowledge is growing. This means that a person’s relationship with God is growing deeper all the time, and indicates that a person is not complacent in their relationship with Him.
Examination & Application of the Text: Quite simply, we could say that the application of this text is to walk worthy of the Lord. However, this is a bit anticlimactic and frustrating because we often don’t know how to do this. First off, in order to walk worthy, one must have a relationship with Him. Of course, to have a relationship with Him, one must be in the Word. Having a relationship is not simply to be casual acquaintances with one another, but instead means to have intimate communion with each other. This requires a person to be intentional in the time he or she spends with God. The reason for spending time with God, through His word is so that you can know His will (as verse 9 states). It is only be knowing His commanded will that one can walk worthy.
There is a second aspect of this though. How does one know if they are walking worthy? Verse 10 tells us we can know that he is growing if they are bearing fruit and growing in a knowledge (relationship) of God. In our explanation of the text today, we have already addressed the significance of this and what it means to bear fruit and grow in knowledge. However, as we said earlier, understanding these concepts requires a response. Our response should be to evaluate our lives based on the understanding. That is to use God’s word as a mirror (James 1:23-24) for evaluation asking the following three questions:
- Am I bearing fruit?
- Is my relationship with God growing?
- If the answer is yes, what evidence is there in my life that indicates this?
It has been best said that “Two words summarize the practicality of the Christian life: walk and work….I cannot work for God unless I am walking with Him, but I cannot walk with him if I am ignorant of His will.”
 Mark G. Johnston, Let’s Study Colossians and Philemon (Carlisle: Banner of Truth Trust, 2013), 23.
 Verlyn D. Verbrugge, New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 57.
 David Poa, Colossians & Philemon, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 70.
 John MacArthur Jr., Colossians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 31.
 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton: Victor Books: 1996), 111.