"Lead a life worthy of the Lord," Colossians 1:10
This phrase actually occurs in the midst of Paul listing some of the things he is praying for the Colossian Church. But it catches my attention. How do we live a life worthy of the Lord? Paul goes on: fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. We live worthy of the Lord when we are bearing the fruit of good works and increasing in the knowledge of God. What does that look like practically?
Good works are primarily concerned with how we help the poor, the oppressed, the stranger, etc. Too many Christians do not give much, if any, of their attention to these things the Church has come to call the corporal works of mercy. Jesus outlines them for us in Matthew 25: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?" And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me," (Mt. 25:35-40).
Now I must confess that I am weak in this area. I've done these things before, but not with a regularity with which I want to face the judgment. The fact is that there have been too many times when I've turned away from such needs for all kinds of reasons intended to disguise my selfishness and apathy. God have mercy on me! I hope, then, that in the future I will be more quick to respond in the way our Lord calls us.
It's so easy to become jaded and think it's someone else's problem. But God has called us to represent Him. We live a life worthy of Him when we do the kinds of things He would do. And this is no mystery. He has told us what to do so we know what kinds of things He would do.
Our true spiritual condition is measured by the way we treat the person(s) we like the least. If the poor, the sick, or foreigners make us feel uncomfortable, then these are the people God will bring our way to test our true love and devotion to Him. We cannot love God whom we don't see when we are not loving the brother or sister whom we can see.
Secondly, we are living a life worthy of the Lord when we are increasing in the knowledge of God. This refers to prayer, meditation, study, and practice. First we must pray. We must sincerely ask God to help us get to know Him better. Then we must spend some time with Sacred Scripture. This is, after all, His word. He reveals Himself to us through holy writ. What is He saying? This is what we must explore. We must read it and meditate upon it. We must let it sink down deep into our souls. Then, once we have spiritually digested it, we must live it out.
In addition, we must go to Mass. All Catholics are required to attend Mass at least every Lord's Day and Holy Day of Obligation. But a lover of God- someone who is consumed with increasing in the knowledge of God, will go as often as possible, striving for daily attendance. Circumstances prevent that sometimes, but, again, the issue is as much as possilble. Furthermore, we can spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Here we are given the privilege of beholding Jesus face to face in the Holy Eucharist. How many things will He reveal to us about Himself?
In short, what we have before us in this brief verse is a challenge to build up both the outer life and the inner life of our spirituality in Christ. As we are strengthened through an increase in the knowledge of God, we are equipped for bearing fruit in every good work. As we pursue good works, we find we are also increasing in the knowledge of God. Both go together. One without the other will eventually leave us dry and burned out.
Too often I hear people complain that religion does nothing for them. Perhaps it is more true that they have left true religion largely untried. St. Paul speaks to us today to leave our excuses behind and begin today to live a life worthy of our Lord!