“SO THAT YOU MAY WALK IN A MANNER WORTHY OF THE LORD, TO PLEASE HIM IN ALL RESPECTS” (COL. 1:10).

Your manner of life should be consistent with Christ’s.

In Colossians 1:9 Paul speaks of being controlled by the knowledge of God’s will. In verse 10 he speaks of walking in a manner worthy of the Lord. There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between those verses. When you are controlled by the knowledge of God’s will, you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.

The Greek word translated “walk” means “to order one’s behavior.” It’s a common New Testament metaphor for one’s lifestyle. Paul made a similar plea to the Thessalonians: “Walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:12).

The thought of being worthy of the Lord might raise some eyebrows because we usually relate worthiness to merit or something deserved. But that isn’t Paul’s point at all. The Greek word translated “worthy” in Colossians 1:10 speaks of something that weighs as much or carries the same value as something else. He isn’t saying we deserve Christ, but that our conduct should be consistent with His.

That is Peter’s point in 1 Peter 2:21: “You have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps.” John said, “The one who says he abides in [Christ] ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). He added in 2 John 6, “Walk according to His commandments.” That’s how you demonstrate your love for Christ (John 14:15) and please Him in every respect.

As a word of encouragement, a worthy walk is not a walk of sinless perfection. That won’t happen until you are fully glorified. But each day you are growing in godliness as a result of the Spirit’s transforming work in you (2 Cor. 3:18). Be faithful to that process. Set your affections on Christ, look to His Word, and rejoice in the privilege of becoming more like Him today.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the power and guidance of His Spirit in your life.
  • Be diligent to confess your sin when you stray from a worthy walk.

For Further Study

  • Read Ephesians 4:1-3 and Philippians 1:27-30.
  • What specific attitudes are involved in a worthy walk?
  • Does a worthy walk eliminate the possibility of suffering or persecution? Explain.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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“THIS I PRAY” (PHIL. 1:9).

Your prayers reveal the level of your spiritual maturity.

As we come to our study of godliness in Philippians 1:9-11, we note that this passage is a prayer. Typically, Paul’s prayers reflected his concern that his readers would mature spiritually. That is impossible without prayer because spiritual growth depends on the Holy Spirit’s power, which is tapped through prayer.

Prayer is so vital that Jesus instructed His disciples to pray at all times (Luke 18:1). Paul commands us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Peter said we should be “of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7).

Scripture gives many other commands to pray, but the true test of your spirituality is your compulsion to pray, not simply your obedience to commands. As a Christian you exist in a spiritual realm in which prayer is as natural as breathing is in the natural realm. Just as atmospheric pressure exerts force on your lungs, compelling you to breathe, so your spiritual environment compels you to pray. Resisting either brings devastating results.

The more you see life through God’s eyes, the more you are driven to pray. In that sense your prayers reveal the level of your spiritual maturity. Paul prayed with urgency day and night because he shared God’s love for His people and His concern for their spiritual maturity.

Examine your own prayers. Do you pray from a sense of duty or are you compelled to pray? Do you pray infrequently or briefly? Do your prayers center on your own needs or the needs of others? Do you pray for the spiritual maturity of others? Those important questions indicate the level of your spiritual maturity and give guidelines for making any needed changes in your pattern of prayer.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God for the privilege and power of prayer.
  • If you have neglected prayer or if your prayers have been centered on yourself rather than others, confess your sin and ask God to give you a sense of holy urgency in praying as you should.
  • Is there someone for whom you should be praying more consistently?

For Further Study

  • Read Daniel 6:1-28.
  • What was Daniel’s pattern of prayer?
  • What accusation did the political leaders bring against Daniel?
  • What was the king’s attitude toward Daniel?
  • How did God honor Daniel’s faith?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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“ALWAYS OFFERING PRAYER WITH JOY IN MY EVERY PRAYER FOR YOU ALL” (PHIL. 1:4).

Intercessory prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of a righteous person.

There’s the story of a special nurse who knew the importance of intercessory prayer. Each day she used her hands as instruments of God’s love and mercy toward those in her care, so she found it natural to use her hand as a scheme of prayer. Each finger represented someone she wanted to pray for. Her thumb was nearest to her and reminded her to pray for those who were closest and dearest. The index finger was used for pointing, so it stood for her instructors. The third finger was the tallest and stood for those in leadership. The fourth finger was the weakest, representing those in distress and pain. The little finger, which was the smallest and least important, reminded the nurse to pray for her own needs.

Undoubtedly that nurse knew the joy of praying for others. Paul knew it too. Given the same circumstances, a lesser man would be consumed with his own well-being, but Paul modeled what he teaches in Philippians 2:4: “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Such an attitude is the heart of effective intercessory prayer.

Those who lack the joy of the Holy Spirit often harbor negative thoughts toward others, which debilitates compassion and hinders prayer. That’s tragic because intercessory prayer is a powerful tool in the hands of righteous people (James 5:16).

Analyze your own prayers. Are they generous with praise to God for His goodness to others? Do you pray for the needs of others? Practice doing so, and the joy of intercession will be yours.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Pray for specific people and specific needs.
  • Thank God for what you see Him doing in the lives of others.

For Further Study

  • John 17 is Christ’s intercessory prayer for His disciples, including us (v. 20). After reading that chapter, complete the following statements:

Eternal life is . . .

Christ’s mission on earth was to . . .

The world’s reaction to Christ and His followers is . . .

The best way to convince the world that Christ was sent by the Father is to . . .

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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“PAUL AND TIMOTHY, BOND-SERVANTS OF CHRIST JESUS” (PHIL. 1:1).

Despite their shortcomings, people of kindred spirit are precious gifts from the Lord.

Timothy was Paul’s trusted companion in the gospel. In Philippians 2:20 Paul describes him as a man “of kindred spirit.” That is, they were likeminded, sharing the same love for Christ and His church.

Elsewhere Paul described Timothy as his beloved and faithful child in the Lord (1 Cor. 4:17) and fellow worker in the gospel of Christ (Rom. 16:21; 1 Thess. 3:2). Those are significant compliments coming from Paul, whose standard of ministry and personal integrity was very high.

However, as godly and useful as Timothy was, he apparently struggled with many of the same weaknesses we face. For example, 2 Timothy implies he might have been intimidated by the false teachers who challenged his leadership (1:7). He perhaps was somewhat ashamed of Christ (1:8) and tempted to alter his theology to avoid offending those who disagreed with sound doctrine (1:13- 14). He might have been neglecting his studies in the Word (2:15) and succumbing to ungodly opinions (2:16-17). Other struggles are implied as well.

Paul wrote to strengthen Timothy’s spiritual character and encourage him to persevere in the face of severe trials.

Despite those apparent weaknesses, Paul valued Timothy highly and entrusted enormous ministerial responsibilities to him. In addition, Timothy’s friendship and ministry was a source of great joy and strength to Paul.

I pray that you have people of kindred spirit in your life— brothers and sisters in Christ who encourage you, pray for you, and hold you accountable to God’s truth. Like Timothy, they may not be all you want them to be, but they are precious gifts from God. Esteem them highly and pray for them often. Do everything you can to reciprocate their ministry in your life.

If perhaps you lack such friends, seek the fellowship of a local church where Christ is exalted, His Word is taught, and holy living is encouraged. Build relationships with mature Christians who will stimulate you to love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Identify three people who are of kindred spirit with you. Pray for them and tell them how much you appreciate their examples and ministries.

For Further Study

  • Read 2 Timothy 1:1-14.
  • What were Paul’s admonitions to Timothy?
  • How might they apply to you?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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