Colossians 1:9
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Sermons
Colossians I. 9Thomas ArnoldColossians 1:9
Colossians I. 9Thomas ArnoldColossians 1:9
Knowledge and ObedienceW. H. Griffith ThomasColossians 1:9
The Knowledge of God's WillW.F. Adneney Colossians 1:9, 10
The Apostle's Prayer for the Enlargement and Completion of Their Spiritual LifeT. Croskery Colossians 1:9-11
A Comprehensive Apostolic PrayerG. Barlow.Colossians 1:9-12
A Worthy WalkFamily ChurchmanColossians 1:9-12
All PleasingJ. Vaughan, M. A.Colossians 1:9-12
Filled with the Knowledge of His WillT. Binney.Colossians 1:9-12
Fruitful in Every Good WorkW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
FruitfulnessBishop Davenant.Colossians 1:9-12
Fruitfulness and ProgressJ. Spence, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
God Known Imperfectly But ReallyH. W. Beecher.Colossians 1:9-12
Intercessory PrayerC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:9-12
Knowledge of Divine WillBishop Davenant.Colossians 1:9-12
Life a WalkJ. Daille.Colossians 1:9-12
Multiform FruitfulnessC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:9-12
No Work Must be DeclinedC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:9-12
Paul's Desire for the ColossiansJ. Morison, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
Spiritual Knowledge and its Practical ResultsC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 1:9-12
The Blessed OccupancyF. B. Meyer, B. A.Colossians 1:9-12
The Essential Connection Between Knowledge and PietyW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The Experimental Knowledge of God the End of All Christian EndeavourDean Goulburn.Colossians 1:9-12
The IntercessionE.S. Prout Colossians 1:9-12
The Knowledge of GodE. D. Griffin, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The Knowledge of the Will of GodS. Martin.Colossians 1:9-12
The Necessity of Christian Fruitfulness to Divine KnowledgeW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The Necessity of Divine Knowledge to Christian FruitfulnessW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The PrayerA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
The Use of Spiritual UnderstandingBishop D. Wilson.Colossians 1:9-12
The Value of Intercessory PrayerI. S. Spencer, D. D.Colossians 1:9-12
Walk WorthilyT. Stork.Colossians 1:9-12
Walking So as to Please GodJ. H. Evans, M. A.Colossians 1:9-12
Sanctified KnowledgeS. Charnock.Colossians 1:9-14
Spiritual KnowledgeG. S. Bowes.Colossians 1:9-14
The Apostolic PrayerU. R. Thomas.Colossians 1:9-14
The Apostolic PrayerU.R. Thomas Colossians 1:9-14
The Best KnowledgeJ. Spencer.Colossians 1:9-14
The Kingdom of God's Dear SonR.M. Edgar Colossians 1:9-14
The Knowledge of the Divine WillW. B. Pope, D. D.Colossians 1:9-14
The Power of Unceasing PrayerColossians 1:9-14
Prayer Leading Up to the Person of ChristR. Finlayson Colossians 1:9-23

I. THE URGENT SPIRIT OF THIS PRAYER. "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you."

1. It is the duty as well as the desire of ministers, not only to teach their flocks, but to pray for them. They must say, like Samuel, "God forbid that I should... cease to pray for you" (2 Samuel 12:23). The prayer of Moses was more influential against Amalek than all the weapons of Israel. "The prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).

2.. They ought to be unceasing in their supplications. There must be "perseverance in supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18). We must give God no rest; for he often delays the answer to increase our importunity (Luke 18:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 12:8, 9).

3. The reason for constant supplication. "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray... for you." The apostle had heard of their faith and love, and was naturally concerned for their growth in grace, for the free course of the Word among them, and for their freedom from all error. He heard they were good, and he prayed that they might be better.

II. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE APOSTLE'S PRAYER. "That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding."

1. The Divine will is the supreme subject of knowledge to a believer. It is not mere speculations about God's nature or his counsels, but his will, that we are to study. This is God's will as it is made known to us either in Scripture or experience.

(1) It is his determining will (Ephesians 1:5).

(2) It is his prescribing will, including Law and gospel, and especially the nature of faith and repentance (Acts 22:9; Ephesians 1:9; Romans 12:2.)

(3) It is his will of approval (Galatians 1:4; Matthew 18:14).

(4) It is his providential will (1 Corinthians 1:1; Romans 1:10). We have much to learn concerning God's will in these four respects.

2. The knowledge necessary to understand it is instinct with "spiritual wisdom and understanding." Knowledge is power, but it may work for evil as well as good. It must be regulated by wisdom and understanding.

(1) Wisdom; not that which has "a show of wisdom," and springs from vanity nurtured by the fleshly mind (Colossians 2:18, 23); not fleshly wisdom (2 Corinthians 1:12); much less that which is "earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:17); but spiritual wisdom - the knowledge of the true end of life, such as God gives to the simple (Psalm 19:7), enabling them to penetrate the mysteries of Divine truth (1 Corinthians 2:6) and to understand their duty to God and man in all the relations of life. It is "from above" (James 3:17); it presupposes the existence of faith and love; it is a subject of Christian prayer.

(2) Understanding is the faculty of spiritual insight which takes in the bearings of things. It fits us for the service of God on earth and for the glory of God in heaven. As it is spiritual, it is touched with meekness and humility.

3. The measures of this knowledge. "That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will." There is no limit assigned to it.

(1) We cannot rest with mere rudiments; we must be "filled with all knowledge" (Romans 15:14).

(2) There will always be something wanting in this life. "We know in part" (1 Corinthians 13:11).

(3) Nothing but the knowledge of the will of God will ever satisfy the deep hunger of man's heart.

4. Motives to this fuller knowledge.

(1) It is the glory of the saints to have it (Jeremiah 9:24).

(2) It is their special privilege to have it (Mark 4:11.)

(3) To want it is a sin and a sorrow (Hosea 4:6).

(4) It is the most excellent of all knowledge; for it is eternal life itself (John 17:3).

5. Design of this knowledge. "To walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing by the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to the power of his glory, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness." The design is twofold as it bears respectively upon action and upon suffering.

(1) The knowledge of God's will is to influence conduct. Its true end is practical obedience. We are "to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing."

(a) Walking worthy of the Lord. This is not

(α

) with a worthiness of merit, far we are all of us unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10);

(β

) but with a worthiness of meekness such as is becoming when we consider the dignity of our calling, the glory of the kingdom of God, the supplies of grace which the gospel affords, and the blessed hopes laid up for us in heaven.

(γ

) It is a worthiness "unto all pleasing." We must "so serve God that we may please him" (Hebrews 12:28; 1 Corinthians 7:31).

(i.) He that seeks not to please him in all things seeks not to please him in anything.

(ii.) If we please him he will make our very" enemies at peace with us" (Proverbs 16:7).

(iii.) "Men pleasing" is inconsistent with God pleasing (Colossians 3:22).

(iv.) It would be sinful and ungrateful to displease him.

(v.) Pleasing God is the work of heaven (Psalm 103:20, 21).

(b) A twofold aspect of worthy walking.

(α

) Christian fruitfulness. "Bearing fruit in every good work."

(i.) The necessity of it.

(a) It is for God's glory (John 15:18).

(b) As a proof of our faith (James 2:18, 26).

(c) The edification of others (Matthew 5:16; Titus 3:8).

(d) The increase of our final reward (2 John 1:8)

(ii.) The means of it.

(a) We must abide in the true Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15:4; Philippians 1.).

(b) We must dwell beside the rivers of water (Psalm 1:3).

(iii.) The extent of it - "in every good work." We must be harmoniously developed in our obedience as in our inward experience (Philippians 4:8).

(β

) Increase in moral stature - "increasing by the knowledge of God." We grow in grace just as we grow in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). There is a mutual interaction between knowledge and grace. We are to add to our faith virtue, and to our virtue knowledge (2 Peter 1:5), just as we are to grow in all spiritual graces by knowledge. Knowledge promotes the sanctification of our callings and our food (1 Timothy 4:3), enables us to discern things that differ (Philippians 1:10), and keeps down corrupt affections (Isaiah 11:7, 9).

(2) The knowledge of God's will tends to strengthen patience in suffering.

(a) The need of abounding strength - "strengthened with all might."

(α

) The afflictions of life tend to weaken us.

(β

) Our adversaries are many.

(γ

) Our faith is fitful.

(δ

) We are often unsettled and tossed about by the wind of contrary doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).

(ε

) We are, perhaps, "babes in Christ," and unskilful in the word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:12, 13).

(b) The source of our strengths "according to the power of his glory;" his glory being the manifestation of his love to man (Ephesians 3:16). We "can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us" (Philippians 4:13). He "giveth strength to his people" and "strength is of the Lord." (Psalm 62:11). "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31). "Glorious power will be victorious power." It is God's revelation of himself to us that gives us our greatest strength. It is his glory that sets his power to work, as it is by promise pledged to his people. Therefore:

(α

) Let us pray for knowledge and faith to discern God's promise and power (Ephesians 1:8).

(β

) Let us hold fast the truth of the gospel, eschewing "winds of doctrine." Let us "follow the truth in love."

(c) The fruit of our strength - "unto patience and long suffering with joyfulness."

(α

) Patience or endurance.

(i.) It is the grace which does not easily succumb under suffering, and is one of the most blessed fruits of the tree of life. It is the result of the bracing effect of affliction (James 5:11), and is opposed to despondency or cowardice.

(ii.) Our patience will grow
(a) through the word of patience, for the comforts of the Scriptures beget both patience and hope (Romans 15:4).
(b) We must cultivate a humble and constant trust in the Lord (Psalm 37:3).
(c) We must continue instant in prayer (Romans 12:12).

(β

) Long suffering is a temper of gentleness and self restraint, closely connected with patience.

(i.) It is the Lord's command that we should suffer long (Matthew 5:21, 22)

(ii.) There are injuries that befall us in Divine providence (2 Samuel 16:10).

(iii.) A revengeful spirit is a hindrance to prayer (1 Timothy 2:8) and to the due power of the Word (James 1:21), and it lets the devil into the heart (Ephesians 4:21). Therefore, let us practise this grace of long suffering.

(γ

) Joyfulness. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." It is possible to be "sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10).

(i.) Our patience and long-suffering must be balanced with joy so as to sustain their true temper.

(ii.) It is possible to be joyful in tribulations (James 1:2).

(iii.) It is commanded by Christ (Matthew 5:12) and enforced by his own example on the cross (Hebrews 12:2).

(iv.) Its ground is our fellowship with Christ in his sufferings (1 Peter 4:13), and the expectation of a heavenly inheritance (Hebrews 10:14).

(v.) It is one of the fruits of God's Spirit (Galatians 5:22). - T. C.







To pray for you and desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge.
I. THE FOUNTAIN OR ROOT OF ALL CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. "That ye might be filled... understanding."

1. The thing desired is the perfecting of the Colossians in religious knowledge.(1) The idea of completeness up to the height of their capacity is given in "filled"; like some jar charged with sparkling water up to the brim.(2) The advanced degree of the knowledge is given in a favourite word which signifies mature knowledge, deeper apprehension of God's truth.(3) The rich variety of that knowledge is set forth in the clauses which may read "filled...so that ye may abound in... wisdom and understanding," or with "the knowledge of His will," i.e., manifested in that will. That knowledge will blossom out into every kind of wisdom and understanding.

2. The principles which these words involve.(1) That the foundation of Christian character and conduct is laid in the knowledge of the will of God. What concerns us to know is not abstract truth, or revelation or speculative thought, but God's will. No revelation has accomplished its purpose when a man has simply understood it. The light is knowledge which is meant to shape practice. Had this been remembered two opposite errors would have been avoided.(a) The error threatening the Colossians, that Christianity was merely a system of truth to be believed. An unpractical heterodoxy was their danger, an unpractical orthodoxy is ours. The one important question is, does our Christianity work?(b) The converse error to that of unpractical knowledge, that of unintelligent practice, is quite as bad. A numerous class profess to attach no importance to Christian doctrine, but put all the stress on Christian morals. What God hath joined together let no man put asunder. Knowledge is sound when it moulds conduct; action is good when based on knowledge.(2) Progress in knowledge is the law of the Christian life. There should be continual advancement in the apprehension of God's will from the first glimpse which saves to this mature knowledge. The progress does not consist in leaving behind old truths, but in the profounder conception of what is contained in them. The same constellations which burn in our midnight sky looked down on Chaldean astronomers, but how much more is known about them at Greenwich than was dreamed at Babylon.

II. THE RIVER OR STEMS OF CHRISTIAN CONDUCT.

1. Worthily of the Lord. There are other forms of the same expression (Ephesians 4:1.; Romans 16:2; Philippians 1:27; 1 Thessalonians 2:12), in all of which there is the idea of a standard to which the practical life is to be conformed.(1) The Christian should "walk" in a manner corresponding to what Christ has done for him. We say that we are not our own, but bought with a price. Then how do we repay that costly purchase. Nothing short of complete self-surrender can characterize the walk that corresponds with our obligations to Christ. Repugnant duties then become tokens of love, pleasant as every sacrifice made at its bidding ever is.(2) The Christian should act in a manner corresponding to Christ's character and conduct. Nothing less than the effort to tread in His footsteps is a walk worthy of the Lord. All unlikeness to His pattern is a dishonour to Him and to ourselves.

2. "Unto all pleasing," which sets forth the great aim as being to please Christ in everything, and satisfy Him by our conduct. We are not to mind other people's approbation. We can do without that. What does it matter who praise, if He frowns? or who blame if He smiles. Nothing will so spur us to diligence, and make all life solemn and grand as the thought that "we labour that... we may be well pleasing to Him." Nothing will so string the muscles for the fight, and free us from entanglements as the ambition to "please Him who hath called us to be soldiers." Men have willingly flung away their lives for a couple of lines of praise in a dispatch. Let us try to live and die so as to get "honourable mention" from our Captain.

III. THE FOURFOLD STREAMS OR BRANCHES INTO WHICH THIS GENERAL CONCEPTION OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER PARTS ITSELF.

1. "Bearing fruit in every good work."(1) Here the man in whom the word (ver. 6) is planted is regarded as the producer of fruit. The worthy walk will be first manifested in the production of a rich variety of forms of goodness. The only true fruit is goodness; all else is leaves. Much of our work and its results is no more fruit than galls on oak leaves.(2) The Christian life is to be "fruitful in every good work." We should seek to fill the whole circuit of the year with various holiness, and to make widely different forms of goodness our own. Let us aim at this all round multiform virtue, and not be like a scene for a stage, all gay and bright on one side, and dirty canvas and stretchers hung with cobwebs on the other.

2. "Increasing in the knowledge of God." The figure of the tree is probably continued here. If it fruits, its girth will increase, its branches spread, its top mount, and next year its shadow will cover a larger circle. Fruitfulness in good works leads to increased knowledge, and all true knowledge tends to influence action. Obedience gives insight. "If any man will do His will, he shall know," etc. Moral truth becomes dim to a bad man. Religious truth grows bright to a good one.

3. "Strengthened... joyfulness." Knowing and doing are not the whole of life; there are sorrow and suffering too.(1) Here again we have Paul's favourite "all." Every kind of strength that God can give and man receive is to be sought after. And that Divine power is to flow into us, having this for its measure and limit — "the might of His glory." His "glory" is the lustrous light of his self-revelation; and the far-flashing energy revealed in that is the immeasurable measure of the strength that may be ours.(2) And what exalted mission is destined for this? Nothing that the world thinks great —(a) patience, including the idea of perseverance in the right course and uncomplaining bearing of evil as sent by God;(b) long. suffering, the temper under suffering considered as a wrong and injury done by man.(c) With joy — flowers beneath the snow, songs in the night.

4. Giving thanks unto the Father. This is the summit of all, and is to be diffused through all. Thankfulness should mingle with all our thoughts and feelings, like the fragrance of some perfume penetrating the scentless air.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

It was —

I. EXPRESSIVE OF DEEP SPIRITUAL INTEREST.

1. Suggested by the report of active Christian virtues. "For this cause." They had believed in Christ, loved the brethren, hoped for the future, borne fruit. All this excites Paul's grateful heart to pray for higher blessings for them. We best show our love for others by prayer. That is always needed since Christian vows are imperfect and may decay or be abused.

2. Constant and fervent. "Do not cease." Paul had undoubted faith in the efficacy of prayer.

II. FOR AMPLEST KNOWLEDGE.

1. The main subject of this knowledge. Man thirsts for knowledge, but the highest is the knowledge of God; not simply of His nature, but His will.

2. The measure in which the knowledge may be possessed. The word indicates a living, complete knowledge of the Divine will. There is no limit to our increase in Divine knowledge but our own capacity, diligence, and faith.

3. The practical form in which the knowledge should he exercised. "In all wisdom and spiritual understanding." The word spiritual applies to both wisdom and understanding. The false teachers offered a wisdom which had only a show of it; an empty counterfeit calling itself philosophy. The wisdom and understanding the gospel imparts are the work of the Holy Spirit. No amount of mental or moral culture can supply it. This was the power lacked by the Galatians, and to save the Colossians from their fate Paul prays that they may discern between the true and the false, the carnal and the spiritual.

III. FOR THE LOFTIEST CHRISTIAN CAREER. Observe —

1. The high standard of Christian conduct. For this purpose we are filled with the knowledge of His will. The end of knowledge is practice.

2. The rule by which that standard is maintained. We are not to please ourselves or others as an ultimate object. If our conduct does please parents, friends, country as well as God, it is well; but though all others are displeased we must please Him. This is the simplest as well as the grandest rule of life, and will settle many perplexing questions of human duty.

3. The productiveness of Christian consistency. It is not enough to bear one kind of fruit; there must be fertility in "every" good work. The Christian is in sympathy with and will promote every enterprise that aims at the physical, social, or moral welfare of man.

4. Progress in Divine knowledge. We can recall no stage in which additional knowledge is unnecessary. Activity in goodness sharpens the knowing faculty and adds to the stores of wisdom, and increased knowledge stimulates the worker (John 7:17; Matthew 25:29).

IV. FOR SUPERNATURAL STRENGTH.

1. The appropriateness and fulness of the blessing desired. Man is morally weak by sin. Christ introduced another force which counteracts sin and will overthrow it. All who believe in Him have this force and it is necessary to realize the blessings for which Paul prays. Our enemies are numerous and our infirmities are many. We need, therefore, every kind of strength to endure onslaught or solicitation.

2. Its supernatural source, "might of His glory." Moral power is not native to the Christian. Power is an attribute of God's glory, and is manifested in the splendid works of creation.

3. Its great practical purpose. Patience is the temper which does not easily succumb under trial: long-suffering, or long-mindedness, is the self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong. Patience respects the weight of the affliction: long-suffering its duration. The former is exercised in our relation to God, the latter in our relation to man. The true strength of the believer consists, not so much in what he can do, as in what he can endure (Isaiah 30:15). The characteristic of both patience and long-suffering is "Joyfulness." To suffer with joyfulness is the great distinction and triumph of the Christian spirit: The endurance of the stoic was often the effect of pride or insensibility.Learn:

1. How sublime are the topics of genuine prayer.

2. Deep experimental acquaintance with the things of God is essential to a lofty and useful career.

3. Knowledge, wisdom, spiritual fertility and strength are the gifts of God.

(G. Barlow.)

Family Churchman.
I. ITS SOURCES. The whole ground of this prayer is found in "who hath made us meet," "who delivered us out of the power of darkness."

1. The gift of Divine sonship.

2. An increase in the knowledge of God's will. We must know what God's will is before we can walk worthily, etc. His will is revealed in His Word.

3. The impartation of wisdom and spiritual understanding.

4. The bestowment of Divine strength. Sonship does not stand alone.

II. ITS FRUITS.

1. Good works.

2. Patient endurance of tribulations as well as perseverance through and in spite of them.

3. Long-suffering towards personal foes and the enemies of the truth.

III. ITS END. A worthy walk begins in sonship, proceeds to sanctification, and ends in glory.

(Family Churchman.)

The Colossians were distinguished for love, and for that "cause" the apostle shows his interest in them and gratitude for it by praying for them. Noble example! He goes on to say that he desired certain things for them — lit., "asked," lifted up his desires.

I. THE MATTER OF THE APOSTLE'S DESIRE.

1. That they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will.(1) It is one thing to have a full knowledge and another to be filled with knowledge. As far as God or His will are concerned we cannot have a full knowledge. God only knows the love, the glory, the will of God. But it is possible to be filled with the knowledge of God. The smallest of cups may be as full as the great ocean. So the smallest minds may be filled with the knowledge of God's will.(2) It was not immense spaces of vacant imaginations and day-dreamings that he desired, but knowledge of realities, that knowledge which is "the principal thing."(3) But not numerous details of knowledge in general; man's mind is too limited for that. He must choose between knowing a few things well and a large number indifferently. Hence Paul limits his petition to one all-important department — the will of God. This has two distinct applications — what God is determined to do Himself and what He is desirous that we should do. In the first sense it is used in Ephesians 1:11, and in the confession of Nebuchadnezzar; but it is more frequently used in the second. "Thy will be done on earth" — not done by God's self. So far as God's determination to take His own way is concerned His will is always done. The reference is to that will which we ought to do, and with the knowledge of which Paul prayed that the Colossians might be filled.

2. "In all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Wisdom was needed, profitable to direct to the things worthiest and best; and understanding, that they might penetrate beneath the surface of things, so as to be standing under them and thence understanding them. When thus understood, things are joined together in a unity of subjective thought, and a higher agency than man's gets abundant scope for a gracious and beneficent operation.

3. But the highest knowledge is but a means to an end (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). The knowledge possessed by God, though immense, is not the most glorious of His attributes; even to Him it is but a means to an end. It is but one of His natural attributes. The most illustrious of God's attributes are the moral — those which have a will within them.

II. THE PURPOSE OF HIS DESIRE. It is not therefore surprising that the apostle should guard the Colossians against the idea that they need aim no higher than this knowledge. He asked that they might have it, that —

1. They should(1) walk — lit., "walk about." He seized a prominent feature of human society. Men walk hither and thither in their homes, in the streets, and in the country. They walk out in the morning, "go about their business"; and in the evening walk about within the circle of their friends and visit. In the homes mothers walk about adjusting various details.(2) There are different ways of demeaning ourselves as we walk about. Some go about stealthily to entrap the unwary and confiding; some in the dark to conceal their evil deeds; some bent on making profit of others, or on amusement. Paul might have prayed that the Colossians might walk circumspectly, humbly, consistently, with gifts in their hands or love in their hearts; but he chooses to say that ye may walk about in a way worthy of the Lord.(3) It is assumed that the transcendent worth is in the Lord. As the Apocalyptic visions show us, in the estimation of all heavenly beings He is infinitely worthy; and hence it is that He is worth all the possible honour that can be reflected on Him by the most beautiful demeanour and "most costly sacrifices of His disciples. Hence we should ever make it our aim to walk worthy of Him, and all our knowledge must be subservient to this.

2. The Colossians are told that if they do so Christ will take note of every step we take, and be pleased. He will appreciate our aim, and have in reference to our conduct a feeling of pleasure. How different this from "putting Him to an open shame." We may make our Saviour happy, and not only in reference to a few acts of exceptional effort, but in reference to all the humble incidents of our every-day life.

3. But nothing will be really pleasing if fruitfulness be wanting.(1) Leaves will not suffice, nor blossoms. Every Colossian was to be a tree of righteousness to bring forth fruit for the refreshment of the great Husbandman.(2) Fruitful in every good work — in long-suffering in the home and beyond; in the continual restraint and guidance of all the passions; in the fruits of the Spirit — "love, joy, peace," etc.(3) What are the means of this abounding fruitfulness? "By the knowledge of God." The most effective guarantee for increase in fruitfulness is the knowledge of God with which he desired they might be filled. "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee," etc.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

I. THE PRECIOUSNESS OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE. Consider —

1. The intensity of the apostle's desire for it. It is the subject of earnest; ceaseless prayer.

2. The men for whom it is desired. Saints and faithful brethren, who knew the grace of God in truth, and were bringing forth fruit to God. We must not cease to pray for those who know the Lord that they may know more.

3. The measure of this knowledge. "Filled" — grand scholarship to have mind, heart, whole manhood filled with knowledge. When a measure is full of wheat there is no room for chaff. True knowledge excludes error. If we have empty places in our minds, unstored by holy teaching, they will be an invitation to the devil to enter and dwell. Try and know Divine truth more intimately. You know a man, for you pass him in the streets with a nod; you know another far better, for you lodge in the same house with him; but you know him best of all whose troubles and joys you have shared, and with whom you have had the closest fellowship.

4. The matter of it. The revealed will of God.(1) The perceptive will. "What wilt Thou have me to do?"(2) The will of God as it constitutes the gospel. "This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one that believeth."(3) "This is the will of God, even your sanctification."

5. The manner.(1) "In all wisdom," which is better than knowledge, for it is knowledge rightly used. Knowledge may find room for folly, but wisdom casts it out. Knowledge may be the horse, but wisdom is the driver. Wisdom enables you to bring your knowledge practically to bear upon life, to separate the precious from the vile, and rightly conduct your affairs. "All" wisdom — wisdom that will be useful in the shop, the counting-house, the church, etc.(2) That wisdom operates by a spiritual understanding that is powerful within. This is an inward knowledge of truth, a spiritual discernment, taste, experience, and reception of truth whereby the soul feeds upon it and takes it into herself.

II. THE PRACTICAL RESULT OF SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE. "That ye may walk" — not that they might talk, sit down and meditate, and enjoy themselves. He desires that they may be instructed, so as to walk —

1. According to the best model. Let not a disciple walk so as to bring disgrace upon his Lord! When you walk with a king you should be royal in gait; when you commune with a prince you should not act the clown. It is well to have no lower standard than the life of Jesus, the life of tenderness, self sacrifice, love, holy service, and communion with God.

2. So as to be pleasing to our best friend.(1) Some live to please themselves, or their wives, neighbours, and some, the devil. Our business is to please Him whose servants we are. Without holiness no man shall see Him, much less please Him.(2) Unto all pleasing — from the moment we rise till we lie down, in eating and drinking, etc.(3) Paul desires that we may be filled with knowledge to this end. If I do not know the will of God, how can I do it?

3. That we may produce the best fruit. Without knowledge we cannot be fruitful. Some are hindered in this because they do not know how to set about holy service. How can a man be fruitful as a preacher if he does not know what to preach? In a hundred ways ignorance will make us run risks, lose opportunities of usefulness, and fall into dangerous mistakes.

4. That he may cultivate a comprehensive variety of the best things. "In every." Here is room and range enough. Let works of obedience, testimony, zeal, charity, piety, all be found in your life. Do not select big things as your spiritual line, but glorify the Lord in the littles. The Lord Jesus, if He were here, would gladly do a thousand things which His poor little servants are too great to touch.

III. THE REFLEX ACTION OF HOLINESS ON KNOWLEDGE.

1. Holiness is the road to knowledge.

2. This knowledge rises in tone — before it was in God's will, now it is in God Himself.

3. He would have in us increased capacity to know yet more. In verse 9 it is "filled"; but if a man is full of knowledge, how can it increase? Make the vessel larger. Let no man think he can go no farther. Bernard says: "He is not good at all who doth not desire to be better."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It would be a useful exercise if we would give thanks for the gifts and graces of our brethren. I am afraid that we are more inclined to spy out their faults, and to suppose that we deplore them, than we are to discern the work of the Holy Spirit in them. Now, Paul surveyed the Church at Colosse, and observed their faith, love, and hope, and thanked God for them. But he noted that they were somewhat lacking in knowledge. They differed from the Corinthians, who abounded in talent and were enriched with knowledge. The Colossians had fewer gifted brethren, and as Paul would not have them come behind in any desirable attainment, he offered this prayer. He knew that spiritual ignorance is the constant source of error, instability, and sorrow; and therefore he desired that they might be soundly taught in the things of God. Intercessory prayer is —

I. A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THE WORK OF CHRISTIANS FOR ONE ANOTHER. We are not sent into the world to live unto ourselves, but we are members of one body, and each member is expected to contribute to the health and comfort of the whole. We cannot all preach or distribute alms, but we can all pray.

II. AN INVALUABLE PROOF OF LOVE and the creator of more love. The man who will pray for me, will forgive me if I offend him, and relieve me if I am in necessity.

III. AN INFALLIBLE MEANS OF OBTAINING THE BLESSINGS WE DESIRE FOR OUR FRIENDS. The unselfish devotion which pleads as eagerly for others as for itself is so pleasing to God that He puts great honour upon it. If we desire any blessing for them, our best course is to pray. If we wish them converted, taught of God, quickened to a nobler life, etc., take the case to God in prayer.

IV. WILL BE ALL THE MORE VALUABLE IF IT IS OUR IMMEDIATE RESORT. "Since the day we heard it." Paul began to pray at once. Whenever you perceive the holy change begun, pray at once that it may proceed with power, and we shall find that God in answering quickly gives a double blessing. He who wins earthly riches is most diligent in their pursuit, and he shall be richest towards God who is most diligent in supplication.

V. WILL BE ALL THE MORE VALUABLE IF THEY ARE INCESSANT as well as immediate. "We cease not." He was always praying for them in the sense he explains, "and to desire." Desire is the essence of prayer. Though you cannot be always speaking in prayer, you can be always desiring. The act of prayer is blessed, the habit more so, the spirit most so, and this can continue for months and years.

VI. WILL BE INCREASED IN VALUE IF OFFERED IN UNION WITH OTHER SAINTS. "We also." "In two of you agree as touching My kingdom." Here is Paul, and with him youthful Timothy, who, compared with Paul, is inconsiderable; yet Paul's prayer is all the more effectual because Timothy's is joined to it. Our Lord sent out His servants two and two, and it is well when they come back to Him in prayer two and two. "The habit of frequent prayer together is to be commended.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

An aged woman, a member of my church, whom I frequently met, always appeared to me to have a more than common interest in the prosperity of religion. She would often inquire: "Are any of our young people coming to Christ?" One day, as I was passing her house, she called me in. Says she: "I asked you to come in here because I wanted to tell you a revival is coming." "How do you know that?" said

I. "Dear me," says she, "now don't think me one of that sort of folks who think themselves particular favourites of the Lord, as they were inspired. But I have got faith, and I have got eyes and ears, and I believe in prayer. Perhaps you may think me too certain, but I tell you a revival is coming; and I don't know it by a miracle either, or because I am any better Khan other people, or nearer to God. But, for this good while, every day when I have been out in my garden, I have heard that old deacon" (pointing to his house) "at prayer in his chamber, where he thinks nobody hears him. The window is open just a little way off from my garden, and I have heard him praying there every day. He is not able to leave his house much, because he has got only one leg; but if he can't work he can pray; and his prayers will be answered." A revival did come. Before a year from that time more than a hundred persons in that congregation were led to indulge hope that they had been born of the Spirit. Among them were a son and a daughter of that old man of prayer, and a grandson of this woman who believed in prayer.

(I. S. Spencer, D. D.)

This is possible. Paul was in its enjoyment.

I. THE NATURE OF GOD'S WILL. The mill is the expression of the inner nature. God is love. His will is goodwill to all. It means happiness for all who will not thwart His loving purpose.

II. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD'S WILL. This can be obtained by being willing to do, by searching the Scriptures and listening to the voice of the Spirit.

III. THE MEASURE OF THIS KNOWLEDGE. "Filled" — no room for self. Every cupboard opened, door unlocked, window raised, and the entire being flooded. Blessings then flow out.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. THE WILL OF GOD.

1. The phrase brings before us the personality of Deity. He is not a blind force, but a conscious being, or He could not have a will.

2. The text contradicts Deism, which says: "God does not concern Himself with us."

3. But imagine God to have a malevolent will concerning us! As it is, however, the will of God moves not merely under the influence of His intelligence and righteousness, but of His mercy. It is "in Christ Jesus concerning us."

4. This will has reference to our whole nature.(1) To our mind; and therefore God has put before us doctrine. God has a will concerning our thoughts, and therefore has provided us with themes for meditation.(2) To our hearts. We may not trust, distrust, love, everything we please. God has indicated the objects and the measure of our confidence and affection.(3) To our will; giving us principles and motives, and rules of action, so that His will directs us in all things. This is not bondage, but freedom. He is the slave who is tethered to his whims and wishes; he is free who moves in harmony with the will which is connected with perfect wisdom and love.

II. The will of God REVEALED.

1. Not entirely, as, e.g., to your future circumstances; these are mercifully concealed.

2. The media employed.

(1)Conscience — imperfect, but under Christ's influence gradually becoming sound.

(2)God's Word.

(3)God's Spirit.

(4)Providence.

(5)Christ, in whom it is perfectly embodied.

3. There is some little difficulty in getting at this will. You must search the Scriptures, and carefully analyze your own conscience to judge whether it is an index of God's will. But the knowledge is well worth the trouble. If you take no trouble you will be perplexed, but if you do He will teach you.

III. The will of God KNOWN. The revelation is distinct from the knowledge, and may be possessed without it. The knowledge must be sought. Look at it as —

1. Full.(1) We may know doctrine and not precept; both, and not the promises; or all partially. Knowledge is full when we know all we need to know.(2) A young disciple in his novitiate cannot know all that is revealed, nor indeed the mature. There are many things concealed from the Church in its present state.(3) But there are things which can be comprehended in the present age, and the present state of the believer's mind. The Bible opens like flowers. You must sometimes wait before a text and seek a right influence on your spirit before the meaning will be manifest. The Bible to the child has one manifestation, to the young man another, and to the mature man another.

2. Correctly applied. It may be misapplied; hence the prayer "in all wisdom," etc. We must get below the letter to the underlying Spirit, and with Divine sagacity apply it to our circumstances.

3. A fit subject for prayer.

4. A subject of deep anxiety to ministers as essential to the holiness and activity of the Church.

(S. Martin.)

1. This knowledge lies at the foundation of all true religion. It is the want or indistinctness of it that occasions the stupidity of sinners, the false hopes of professors, and most of the religious errors that abound. Although it is open to all, there is very little of it. There is so much unbelief, pride, worldliness, guilt, which shrinks from clear views of God, sluggishness, which binds the soul to earth, that the mass even of Christians pass to the grave with a very incompetent know. ledge of God. Now and then a Christian arises of pre-eminent piety, and when you search for the cause of it you find it in his superior knowledge of God.

2. In general, the great end for which we were sent into the world was to learn the character of our Master, by studying His glories in His works and word, that we might obey and enjoy Him. The object on which His eye is fixed, and which He will fully attain, is that the earth may be filled with the knowledge of His glory.

3. He is the Being with whom we have the most intimate and interesting connection, and therefore it chiefly concerns us to be acquainted with Him. "In Him we live and move," etc., and He will be our final Judge.

4. There is room for far more enlarged knowledge of God than any of us have yet acquired. In His nature are treasures of knowledge which eternal research will not exhaust. Of course none but Christ could with perfect propriety say, "I know this," but we may follow on to know the Lord.

5. This knowledge is —

I. MOST PURIFYING. A sight of God is transforming. When with open face we behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we are charged with the same image. When God is seen in all the majesty of His glory and holiness the Christian cannot, dare not, wilfully sin.

II. MOST HUMBLING. Other knowledge "puffeth up," but the more God is seen, the more abased the soul will be. All the glooms of guilt and fears of hell which are not accompanied with a spiritual discernment of God will not humble the soul. When Isaiah saw the Lord he exclaimed, "I am a man of unclean lips," and when Peter discovered the Godhead of Christ he fell at His feet, saying, "Depart from me," etc.

III. MOST EXALTING. It will do more to ennoble the mind and elevate it above vulgar disputes, than all other views. If it is a dignity to be intimately acquainted with great men, what is the dignity of knowing and being known by God.

IV. MOST BLESSED. One direct view of God fills the soul with greater peace than the most splendid attainments in other branches of knowledge, and than all the glories of the world. This is to be the happiness of heaven, because nothing greater can be provided.

(E. D. Griffin, D. D.)

It is for the want of keeping this end steadily in view that many persons make so little progress. Their efforts are misdirected. They confound the means and effects of religion with its life. Digging, manuring, pruning, and fruit-bearing are not the life of a tree. What, then, is the soul of religion towards which all efforts are to be directed.

I. THE LIFE OF TRUE RELIGION IS AN EXPERIMENTAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. Such an appreciation of the excellence of His character as satisfies the soul. Philip said, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." No earthly source of happiness does suffice. The pursuit of earthly desires is like the countryman's chase after the rainbow. They one after the other disappoint those who attain them. Their prismatic colours all vanish when we come close to them, and some new rainbow is seen ahead to lure us into another fruitless pursuit. But our Creator does not mock us by implanting great yearnings after happiness which have nothing to correspond to them. In the knowledge and enjoyment of Him man can find rest.

II. THIS KNOWLEDGE IS THE END OF ENDS, TO WHICH EVERY OTHER PART OF THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM IS SUBORDINATED. It is the end of the atoning and interceding work of our Lord. This removes barriers which preclude communion. Any knowledge of God independently of Christ must frighten us from Him, for God is infinitely holy, and His holiness is a consuming fire.

III. THE EXERCISES WHICH SO MOST DIRECTLY TO THIS END.

1. Living much with Him. If we only come across a man occasionally and in public, and see nothing of his private life, we cannot be said to know him. All the knowledge of God which many professing Christians have is derived from the formal salute they make to Him in their prayers. But no progress can be made thus. Try to draw God down into your daily work; consult Him about it; offer it as a contribution to His service; ask Him to help you in it and to bless it; refer to Him in your temptations; go back at once to Him if you have left Him; in short, walk hand in hand with Him, dreading above all things to quit His side; seek not so much to pray as to live in an atmosphere of prayer.

2. Studying His mind in His Word. We may be said to know an author, when we have so carefully read his works as to imbibe his spirit. It is through His Word that God speaks to us, as it is through prayer we speak to Him. Cultivate a taste for the Holy Scriptures. "Oh, how sweet are Thy words unto my taste... All the day long is my study of it." My mind in which it is stored is always recurring to it in the intervals of business, turning it over with fresh inquiry into its significance, finding new illustrations of its truth in nature, life, and experience. There is a study of Scripture which is analogous to ejaculatory prayer, which interweaves the Word into the daily life of the Christian, a rumination which can be carried on without book.

3. The discipline of life. If a man has no dealings with us personally, though he may be no stranger to us by reputation, we cannot be said to know him. But if transactions pass between us his character transpires. Now God comes close up to us, if we give our hearts to Him, and deals with us in all the changing scenes of life. So long as people keep Him at arm's length, He only sweeps round the circumference Of their existence. Those who desire to have a practical knowledge of Him in His dealings try to learn the lesson of every part of their experience.

IV. INCREASE IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, as it characterizes the true Christian's present course WILL BE HIS BUSINESS THROUGHOUT ETERNITY. We are not to conceive of a glorified saint as if he were stereotyped and could advance no further in the knowledge of God. Our nature is so constituted as not to acquiesce in a particular measure of knowledge on any subject. And why, as God is infinite, and His resources of wisdom, power, and love are inexhaustible, may not a blessed eternity be spent in fresh discoveries of His glory, each of which will throw preceding discoveries into the shade?

(Dean Goulburn.)

No man can take a pencil and mark the features of Jehovah, and say: "Thus far is God, and no farther." How poor a God must that be whom I can understand! He would be no larger than the measure of my thought — and that would be small indeed. No man can limit and define God. after all intellectual statements have been made, after all definitions have been given, immensely more is left untouched than has been touched. But the functions of the Divine nature, the quality of that nature and its moral essence, one may suspect or know without comprehending all of God. Bring me but a glass of water, And I know what water is. I may not know, if I have not travelled, what are

the springs in the mountain, what are cascades, what are the streams that thunder through deep gorges, what are broadening rivers, what are bays, or what is the ocean; and yet I may know what water is. A drop on my finger tells me its quality. From that I know that it is not wood, that it is not rock, that it is not air, that it is not anything but water. I am not able, by searching, to find out God unto perfection; and yet I know that, so far as I have found Him out, and so far as He is ever going to be found out, whatever there is in nobility, whatever there is in goodness, whatever there is in sweetness, whatever there is in patience; whatever can be revealed by the cradle, by the crib, by the couch, by the table; whatever there is in household love and in other loves; whatever there is in heroism among men; whatever there is of good report; whatever has been achieved by imagination or by reason; whatever separates man from the brute beast, and lifts him above the clod — I know that all these elements belong to God, the eternal and universal Father. Although I may not be able to draw an encyclopaediac circle and say: "All inside of that is God, and anything outside of it is not God;" yet I know that everything which tends upward, that everything which sets from a lower life to a higher, that everything which leads from the basilar to the coronal, that everything whose results are good, is an interpretation of God, who, though He may be found to be other than we suppose, will be found not less, but more glorious than we suspect.

(H. W. Beecher.)

The knowledge of the Divine will embraces in itself the knowledge(1) of the law, which shows us the abyss of our misery, and also proposes to the regenerate a rule of new life;(2) of the gospel, which opens to us the depths of Divine mercy, and also teaches the method of obtaining salvation. Neither is the bare apprehension of these things called the knowledge of the Divine will, but the efficacious apprehension which applies Christ to ourselves, and expresses the rule of the law in our life and actions, as far as in us lies. (1 John 2:3) the commandments as well concerning faith as obedience.

(Bishop Davenant.)

The world is in darkness. This is the beginning of a natural day. The sun has not yet risen. Here is a great building. You see it; the sun rises and touches the top of it; gradually it touches the highest ridges and windows; then it comes down, and touches another story, and another, till at last the light, in all its fulness and amplitude, fills the whole house and bathes the whole building in the splendour of its rays. Every room — from the lowest to the highest — all filled! Now, that gives you a faint idea of what the apostle means. The knowledge of God fills, not one faculty alone, not the intellect looking at truth objectively, but the whole nature; feeling, imagination, sensibility, all flooded with this Divine light.

(T. Binney.)

By wisdom and spiritual understanding the Christians at Colosse would be led to "distinguish things that differ"; to detect the sophistry of new teachers; to discern the dangerous bearings of ingenious but seducing systems; to keep close to the letter and spirit of Scripture; to look around on the whole compass of truth and all the methods of God's dispensations before they committed themselves to any conclusive opinion; to use every part of Divine revelation for the purposes, and in the proportion, and according to the order, and in the spirit of the divinely-inspired record.

(Bishop D. Wilson.)

That ye walk worthy of the Lord
Having entered the world, at once we leave the moment of our nativity, as a starting-place, and incessantly advance towards death, as a common habitation, where, sooner or later, all men meet. Other travellers may, if they please, delay their journey, or retrace their steps; but we cannot do either. Time, enfolding us from the first moment of our life, perpetually carries us forward, whether we wake or sleep, whether we consent to it or resist, without permitting us to turn back, or indulge in the shortest repose. We are like him on board a vessel propelled by sea and wind, whose personal motion does not arrest or abate his course. But as the roads and projects of travellers are very different, so there is a great diversity of habit and manners in men's lives. Wicked men follow one way, and good men another. The pagan steers one course, the Jew another, the Mohammedan another, and the Christian another, each wholly different from the others. This is what the Scripture calls "the way of man"; that is, the fashion and method of life which each man follows. And suitably to this expressive figure, it often makes use of the word walking, to signify a regulating and framing of the life after some certain manner, whether good or evil; meaning the tenor of our lives, and our customary deportment. There is nothing more common in the Psalms, and in the Proverbs, than these forms of speech; "to walk in integrity"; or, on the contrary, "to walk in fraud and iniquity": and in the writings of the New Testament, "to walk in light," or, "in darkness"; "after the Spirit," or, "after the flesh"; with other similar phrases, all signifying a certain manner and condition of life, good or evil, as it is qualified. Agreeably to this scriptural style, the apostle says here, "that ye might walk"; meaning, that you may live, that you may regulate and form your lives.

(J. Daille.)

It is said that among the high Alps, at certain seasons, the traveller is told to proceed quietly; for on the steep slopes overhead the snow hangs so evenly balanced that the sound of a voice or the report of a gun may destroy the equilibrium, and bring down an immense avalanche that will overwhelm everything in ruin in its downward path. And so about our way there may be a soul in the very crisis of its moral history, trembling between life and death, and a mere touch or shadow may determine its destiny. A young lady, who was deeply impressed with the truth, and was ready, under conviction of sin, to ask, "What must I do to be saved" had all her solemn impressions dissipated by the unseemly jesting of a member of the Church. Her irreverent and worldly spirit cast a repellent shadow on the young lady not far from the kingdom of God. How important that we should always and everywhere walk worthy of our high calling as Christians.

(T. Stork.)

1. All mere speculative knowledge is profitless. If the whole world of science were before me, and yet if its principles were not applied, it might puff me up but it would be of no utility. Much more is this so with regard to Divine truth. I may have all knowledge, but if I lack the faith that worketh by love it is vain.

2. But there is one peculiar glory about Divine truth — he that knows one truth cannot be wholly ignorant of its bearings. It is a chain that has involved in it link within link, and he that touches one can move the whole. E.g., He that has a spiritual knowledge of God loves Him, and he that loves Him loves His will, and he that loves His will desires to do it.

I. THE WORTHY WALK. There are similar passages in Ephesians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12.

1. Every man living in sin is dead, a cumberer of the ground, and only fit to be cut down. This is his worthlessness. He is as unprofitable servant and spiritually worthless. This is one of the first teachings of the Spirit, and even the saint is compelled to confess that in Him dwelleth no good thing (Genesis 32:9-10). This was the confession of the Centurion and the Prodigal.

2. But although in the natural man this is so, and the spiritual man is made to feel it — yet the latter knows that he has been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, redeemed for glory, and renewed by the Holy Spirit, and so is made worthy by grace.

3. Hence he is under powerful obligations to walk worthy by being fruitful in good works. This the natural man cannot be any more than a bad tree can produce good fruit, but the renewed man can be and is.(1) The characteristics of a good work are —

(a)that God has commanded it;

(b)that it is the result of faith — for without faith it is impossible to please God.Faith first pleads the righteousness of Christ as the ground of acceptance, and then lays hold of the strength of Christ as the power for performance. "In the Lord I have righteousness and strength."(2) In these sorts of works we are to be fruitful. There must be no reserve. All we have and are is to be devoted to God's service.

II. THE HIGH AIM — to please God in all things.

1. This is impossible to the natural man who is without faith. Even a child of God does many things that are displeasing to God. There was but one who was perfectly well-pleasing to God. But in Him we are pleasing too — for we are made the righteousness of God in Him.

2. The Christian aims at acting out this righteousness in unreserved obedience, in little things as well as great — in eating and drinking, etc. With such a life God is well pleased.

III. THE DIVINE KNOWLEDGE. Notice the order of procedure — knowing the will of God, doing it, and by doing it brought into closer acquaintance with God. "If any man will do His will he shall know." "Thus shall we know if we follow on to know the Lord." David knew more than the ancients, because he kept God's precepts.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY ALL PLEASING? We are to please everybody that we may please God.

1. The wish to please or to be liked by everybody is a virtue or a sin according as it is a means or an end. If you please only to be admired it is selfish and has no religion in it. But if you wish to please that Christ may be liked, and that you may have more influence for good, then in pleasing others you will please God.

2. By this rule we reconcile St. Paul's apparent contradiction, "If I yet pleased men I should not be a servant of Christ," with "Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification." It is evident that we may, on the one hand, so make compromises in order to please that we shall not walk worthy of the Lord, and that on the other we may think we are walking worthy of the Lord by a strictness and severity which are certainly not unto all pleasing.

3. It would be quite a mistake to suppose that Christ did not please men. There were some, of course, He never tried to please — the proud and hypocritical. But he pleased the multitude. The record of his early life, is "He grew in favour both with God and man;" and afterwards "all the people rejoiced for the glorious things which were done by Him."

II. HOW DID CHRIST PLEASE MEN? AND HOW MAY WE BY PLEASING LIKE HIM, WALK WORTHY OF HIM?

1. The first secret of all pleasing is humility. If you meet a man who is in everything your superior, and yet he treats you as if he were your equal without the least appearance of condescension, there is a charm in that which every one feels. This was exactly what Christ did and what we are to do.

2. Sympathy. It is the spring of all power to throw yourself into another's mind, look with his eye, feel with his touch, to do this with all, and with the countenance and manner as well as the word, and to be always respectful with your sympathy. This is the capability to please, and Jesus had it without measure.

3. That potent and rare art of seeing the good in everybody. Christ saw the Israelite indeed in the rude Nathaniel; He loved the impetuous, self-ignorant young man; and asked his Father to forgive His murderers since they knew not what they did. Is there then anything more Christlike than to see the germ of piety before it developes, the bit of blue on a dark sky, the excuse in every thing? He who knows how to do that "walks unto all pleasing."

III. IT IS THE DUTY AND IN THE POWER OF EVERY ONE TO BE PLEASING. For to please does not depend upon the face, dress, form, riches, talents, wealth, etc, but upon moral character, tact, effort, and simple motive.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Fruitful in every good work
I. FERTILITY implies —

1. Life. A fruit-bearing tree is necessarily a living tree. The fruitful Christian has been grafted into the Saviour and partakes of His life. This life is worthy of our nature, capability, and destiny. How different the idea of many. Business, money, pleasure, science, art — the pursuit of these is life; all that it demands of energy, all that it imparts of joy.

2. Culture. The tree left without pruning will soon bring forth leaves only. So the fruitful Christian is one who is under the care of the Divine husbandman (John 15:2). Abounding fertility is the result of His gracious culture. The pruning processes of His providence are often necessary. Without these there may be woody suckers or luxuriant foliage, but no fruit.

3. The Christian living in Christ and pruned by God is to be fruitful in every good work (John 15:8). The works to be done must be good in their nature, influence, and issue, glorifying to God, beneficial to man, and worthy of the life the Christian has in union with His Lord. Note the breadth of requirement — "every." The physical and social elevation of the alien, the outcast, and the ignorant should go hand and hand with saving agencies. Was Christ not Physician for body and soul, the loftiest Philanthropist, the sincerest Patriot, the truest Friend?

II. PROGRESS. The fruitfulness is not exhaustive. The tree grows all the more healthily when its fruitfulness abounds.

1. Hence the connection here between fertility and progress. We must bear fruit that we may be strong, and do good that we may grow. Many forget this and find that "withholding more than is meet tendeth to poverty." Their selfishness starves their souls.

2. The real means of growth is the knowledge of God. Our fruitfulness may be a condition, but it cannot make us grow. The knowledge of God is the true nourishment of the soul. A God in shadow or unknown creates superstition, and to view Him in only one aspect of His character will lead either to fanaticism or mysticism.

3. This knowledge is the only knowledge which encompasses our whole being and fills the whole man. It supplies truth for the intellect, conscience, and heart; stimulus and nourishment for every attribute of our being. Devotion to mere human studies may develop the intellectual side of our nature at the expense of the moral and social, but the growth which this promotes is symmetrical and full. Conclusion: These two things embrace two sides of our nature, action and reflection. They act and react on each other. The activity would pass into formalism were it not fed by the contemplation of God. Our meditation would pass into fanaticism were it not regulated by active duty.

(J. Spence, D. D.)

This metaphor is taken from a tree; not every tree, but one bearing fruit (Psalm 1:3; John 15:5). From this comparison note —

1. As no tree can bear fruit, unless it hath a certain life-giving seed in itself, and is nourished daily with good sap; so no one can bear spiritual fruit, unless he hath in himself the seed of the Spirit, and is daily watered with the outpourings of Divine grace.

2. As that tree is pleasing to God, which does not occupy the ground in vain, neither dissipates the moisture which it draws on leaves and blossoms alone; but produces good fruits: so he alone is pleasing to God, who does not uselessly occupy room in the Church, neither wears the appearance and form of godliness alone, but puts forth its power and virtue by fruitfulness.

3. As a tree lives and bears fruit not for itself but its owner, and for others to whom he sees fit to impart its fruits: so a godly man ought not to live for himself alone, nor to care only that his life be honourable to himself, but that it may be honourable to God and beneficial to all his brethren.

4. Behold the spacious manner in which the fruitfulness of a godly man is exercised. In this he differs from a tree. For no one seeks different fruits from the same tree, but God expects every Christian to produce every kind of good works (Galatians 5:22). There are, therefore, two things to be noted in the matter of the fruitfulness.(1) That God does not approve of every kind of fruitfulness, but restricts it to good works. But those are called good works which are commanded and directed by God. Wisely and piously spake , "The exercises of righteousness are to be chosen not by our own will, but by the will of God." And in Isaiah God. complains of the Jews, that they worshipped Him by the precepts of men (Isaiah 29:13).(2) That fruitfulness of any one kind is not sufficient, but we must be fruitful in every good work. If any one produce the good fruit of alms deeds, and mingle with them the impure fruits of lewdness; or if any one be conspicuous for chastity, and defile himself by avarice; he would not answer the Divine will, or the apostle's desire of being fruitful in every good work: nay, he is accounted by God bad and unclean. For who shall say that any one is clean, who is wont to wallow even in a single sewer? (1 Thessalonians 5:22-23).

(Bishop Davenant.)

From the decalogue downwards. Scripture teaching has been poured impartially into two moulds — to know the truth and to do the right.

I. THE NATURE OF EACH.

1. Fruitfulness in every good work.(1) Work. They who find Christ find rest, but not exemption from work; "peace in believing" only supplies a foothold whereon the labourer may stand more steadily and so work with more effect.(2). Good work, not energy of action merely.

(a)The Master is good: God.

(b)The motive: love.

(c)The aim: the good of the world.

(d)The standard: the law.(3) Every.(a) Not that man should go round the world and meddle with every thing, but that he should neglect no opportunity that comes in his way. Do not waste time and effort in trying to do all at once, but cultivate a universal willingness.(b) Act those virtues, too, that are not in your nature. When a man of might bears the infirmities of the weakest, and the timid display a martyr courage, there is more conspicuous evidence of grace.(c) Do not pick and choose but do whatever God has put in your way, whether the opening of a church or the digging of a well, the support of a missionary or the widening of a street.(4) Fruitful. This indicates —

(a)Spontaneousness. The tree has first been made good, and then the fruit grows spontaneously. A partaker of Christ gives forth Christ-like actions. There is a good deal of artificial charity. People can tie oranges to a fir-tree; but true Christian beneficence is a fruit that grows and is not tied on. The water in the pipes connected with a reservoir must flow by reason of the pressure from above. "The love of Christ constraineth us."

(b)Sweetness and profitableness.

(c)Abundance.

2. Increase in the knowledge of God.(1) In obtaining reconciliation through Christ we have the beginning of this knowledge, and those who attain the beginning can never rest there.(2) Among other features of the Divine nature which the experienced disciple knows better now, the Fatherliness of God is perhaps that in which the greatest advances are attained. It is long ere perfect love casts out all fear; but much progress is made in its diminution by the inlet of confiding love. It is like the process of exhausting the air from a glass cup, and so making it adhere more and more firmly to the table. More and more fear is drawn off from the Christian's bosom; more and more firmly therefore does it cleave to the Almighty strength it leans upon.

II. THE UNION AND RECIPROCAL RELATIONS OF THE TWO.

1. They grow together not only as two parallel boughs of one tree, one of which might live if the other were wrenched off. The union is like two sides of a human body: if one were wanting the other would die.

2. Contemplate the two sides alternately.(1) Active obedience is necessary to the increase of spiritual experience. Spiritual contemplation soon runs to seed when duty is neglected. The old monks desired to increase in the knowledge of God, and hid themselves in caves where good works were impossible. So they made themselves barren in that wherein God had commanded them to be fruitful. Simon on the top of his pillar with the world wondering at him as a saint, did not know God so well as he might if he had kept a shop all day and played with his children at night. In active life you will make most progress in this knowledge. The more work you do the more you will be wearied, which will lead you to lean oftener on the Father and thus increase your acquaintance.(2) Contemplative communion with God is necessary to successful activity. If you rush into work without prayer the work will wane like the flame of a lamp when the oil is exhausted. When our work increases in bulk we need more of experimental communion to animate the extended body.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

You never saw in nature a tree which yielded all sorts of fruit, and you never will. I have seen a tree so grafted that it produced four kinds of fruit at one time, but I remarked that it was a poor business in reference to two of the varieties; for one of the grafts, more natural than the others to the parent stem, drew off the most of the sap, and flourished well, but robbed the other branches. The second sort of fruit managed to live pretty fairly, but not so well as it would have done on its own stem. As for the third and fourth, they were mere attempts at fruit of the smallest size. This tree was shown to me as a great curiosity; it is not likely that practical gardeners will be encouraged by the experiment. But what would you think of a tree upon which you saw grapes, and figs, and olives, and apples, and all other good fruits growing at one time? This is the emblem of what instructed believers will become: they will produce all sorts of goodness and graciousness to the honour of their heavenly Father, I have no doubt that you will naturally abound most in certain good works for which you have the largest capacity, but still nothing ought to come amiss to you. In the great house of the Church we want servants who will not be simply cooks or housemaids, but general servants, maids of all-work, prepared to do anything and everything. I have known persons in household employment in England who would not do a turn beyond their special work to save their masters' lives: these are a sort of servants of whom the fewer the better. In India this is carried to a ridiculous extreme. The Hindoo water-bearer will not sweep the house, nor light a fire, nor brush your clothes — he will fetch water, and nothing else: you must, therefore, have a servant for each separate thing, and then each man will do his own little bit, but he will not go an inch beyond. When we enter into Christ's Church we should come prepared to wash the saints' feet, or bear their burdens, or bind up their wounds, or fight their foes, or act as steward, or shepherd, or nurse. It has been well said that if two angels in heaven were summoned to serve the Lord, and there were two works to be done, an empire to be ruled, or a crossing to be swept, neither angel would have a choice as to which should be appointed him, but would gladly abide the will of the Lord. Let us be equally prepared for anything, for everything by which fruit can be produced for the Well-beloved.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

There is a well in your garden, and a pump for raising the water to the surface. This for ordinary seasons is sufficient. But at length a drought compels you to make a greater demand upon the well. Every day you ply the handle harder and longer, to preserve the life of the languishing vegetation. At last the supply fails, and you ply your task in vain. No water comes, because there has been too much working; the work degenerates into a barren noise. What then? Sink your well deeper, and it will stand a greater strain. We must go and do likewise when, by too long-continued activity, our movement becomes fruitless labour. When we work till our souls are wrought out, we must go deeper down into the hidden veins of the soul's supply — go deeper into the love of God, by secret communion with the Saviour; and the increase of His favour consciously compassing your soul will sustain a new and greater effort of Christian activity.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

In the case of the monks, their kite, so to speak, was pointing heavenward and rising; but it was not rising far enough nor fast enough. It seemed to be struggling upward, but held in check by the string that attached it to the ground. That line which bound it to the earth seemed the only hindrance of its flight to heaven. Like foolish children, they cut the line that bound it to the earth, expecting to see it then rising unimpeded to the sky; but, lo! the kite when so set free, instead of ascending majestically to heaven, whirled round two or three times wildly, giddily, and then fell fiat upon the ground. Such was the result of Rome's effort to raise her votaries to heaven, by cutting their connection with the earth. The so-called saints fell lower than before.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

As the swing of the pendulum to the right becomes the power which carries it to the left, and its swing to the left the power which carries it back to the right; so true good-doing makes the doer know God more, and true knowledge of God sends back the scholar with a new impulse to his work in the world. Moreover, by the balancing alternations of the pendulum aberrations are prevented, and the steady, true-going of the clock is secured; so the Christian life goes best which goes between a deep, comtemplative, spiritual knowledge of God, and hearty practical work, as far as opportunity offers, for every interest of every brother man. These two God hath joined; let no man dare to put them asunder.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

You have probably read of a certain renowned corporal in the American service a century ago. A general as he rode along saw a body of men endeavouring to lift timber. They were short-handed, and the work lagged, but their famous corporal stood by ordering them about at a magnificent rate. The general paused and said, "Why don't you lend them help and put your shoulder to it?" "Why, sir," said the great little officer, "how can you think of such a thing? Do you know who I am? I am a corporal! "The general got off his horse, pulled off his coat, and helped to move the timber, and by his judicious help the soldiers achieved their task. Then he turned to the high and mighty gentleman and said, "Mr. Corporal, next time you want a man to do such work as this you can send for me. I am General Washington."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Links
Colossians 1:9 NIV
Colossians 1:9 NLT
Colossians 1:9 ESV
Colossians 1:9 NASB
Colossians 1:9 KJV

Colossians 1:9 Bible Apps
Colossians 1:9 Parallel
Colossians 1:9 Biblia Paralela
Colossians 1:9 Chinese Bible
Colossians 1:9 French Bible
Colossians 1:9 German Bible

Colossians 1:9 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Colossians 1:8
Top of Page
Top of Page