We may often look at our relationship with God, wondering if we are okay with Him. Foundationally, we know that our sins have been forgiven because of the works of Christ and that we will be eternally with God in the resurrection. But that confidence doesn’t stop us from occasionally feeling anxiety about whether or not God is pleased with what He sees in our lives. As we close out our series of 4 Year-Changing Prayers, we’ll be looking at the prayers of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians as he addresses this very issue.
Read Colossians 1.9–12.
In these verses, Paul is saying, “I’m praying God would you give you His Spirit of wisdom and understanding so that you might live a God-pleasing life,” because that’s really at the heart of the “Are we okay, God?” question.
There are two big challenges we face with living a God-pleasing life.
1. The priority we put on pleasing God.
Read 2 Corinthians 5.9, 2 Timothy 2.3–4, Ecclesiastes 2.26, and Isaiah 58.13–14.
When it comes to our spiritual lives, the dominant mindset we may unconsciously carry is wondering how God can make our lives better. But what we see in the Bible is that the first priority of a Christian’s life isn’t actually their own pleasure, but God’s. Paul is encouraging us to seek to get our eyes off of ourselves and start asking what would bring God pleasure. Even so, it’s not that God is unconcerned with our joy and pleasure in life, rather it is that our joy is a byproduct of living for God’s pleasure.
2. Our understanding of what a God-pleasing life actually is.
If we’re not careful, most of us will define what pleases God according to our own opinion. It’s easy to think, “As long as I’m not doing anything really bad, my life pleases God.” The problem with this line of thinking is that it’s not up to us to decide what pleases someone else. We can’t tell God what pleases Him; we have to ask Him what pleases Him, through prayer and reading His word.
In Colossians 1.10–12, Paul spells out what pleases God. He says there are four marks of a God-pleasing life.
1. Bearing fruit in every good work.
The emphasis here isn’t on the bad things you’re not doing but rather the good things you are doing, like caring for the poor, doing your job with integrity and excellence, sharing your faith, or using your gifts to build up your church family.
2. Growing in the knowledge of God.
The Greek word behind knowledge is the word epignosis, which is a relational knowledge. It’s not just facts about God but knowing him intimately like a good friend.
3. Being strengthened with God’s power for perseverance.
Paul is talking specifically about the perseverance that is required for the good works he mentioned earlier. If you are following Jesus, it will at times be difficult, but one of the marks of a God-pleasing life is that when following Jesus gets hard, you experience the power of God helping you to push through.
4. Giving joyful thanks in all circumstances because of the hope set before us.
Every time we’re tempted to let our circumstances overwhelm us, we are called to come back to the hope we have in Christ and trust that God has our future in His hands.
What if those marks are not as present in your life as you would like them to be? Or what if you do see them but you want to make sure they continue being present? We see Paul praying for more of the Spirit of God because he realizes it is the Spirit of God who is the crucial resource needed for a God-pleasing life.
Here are four ways to get more of God’s Spirit for wisdom and understanding that help us live a God-pleasing life.
- Pray and ask others to pray for you too.
- Read the Bible, because every time you read it, you’re being filled with God’s Spirit of wisdom.
- Get in a CABLE group. The Bible says that God’s Spirit often shares wisdom in the context of biblical community.
- Simply listen. Too often we’re so busy talking to God that we don’t listen for him. Start by taking five minutes a day to be still in silence.
- Are you okay with God? Do you know what pleases Him?
- What areas in your life bring joy to God? What areas in your life aren’t so God-pleasing?
- How often do you stop and simply listen for God? What can you do today to carve out time to be still in silence?
- In what ways do you desire to grow in your relationship with God?
- How do you practice thankfulness and gratitude during difficult times?
- How can others be praying for you?