Perfect in all the Will of God.
'Epaphras, who is one of yon, a servant of Jesns Christ, saluteth you, always striving for you in his prayers, that ye may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.'—COL. iv. 12.
IN this, as in some of the other Epistles, there is set before us the life of the believer as he lives it in heaven in Christ, and then as he lives it here on earth with men. The teaching of Scripture is intensely spiritual and supernatural, but, at the same time, intensely human and practical. This comes out very beautifully in the two expressions of our Epistle. Paul had told the Colossians what he laboured for; he now tells them what another minister, Epaphras, asked on their behalf. Paul's striving was in his labour that they might bo perfect in Christ Jesus. The striving of Epaphras was in the prayer that they might be perfect in all the will of God.
First we have 'Perfect in Christ Jesus' The thought is so unearthly and Divine, that its full meaning eludes our grasp. It lifts up to live in Christ and heaven. Then we have 'Perfect in all the will of God.' This word brings us down to earth and daily life, placing all under the rule of God's will, and calling us in every action and disposition to live in the will of God.
'That ye may stand perfect in all the will of God.' 'The perfection of the creature consists in nothing but willing the will of the Creator.' The will of God is the expression of the Divine perfection. Nature has its beauty and glory in being the expression of the Divine will. The angels have their place and bliss in heaven in doing God's will. The Son of God was perfected in learning obedience, in giving Himself up unto the will of God. His redemption has but one object, to bring man into that only place of rest and blessedness—the will of God. The prayer of Epaphras shows how truly he had entered into the spirit of his Master. He prays for his people, that they may stand in the trill of God; and that in all the will of God —nothing in their life excepted, in which they were not in God's will. And that again, perfect in all the will of God; at each moment, with a perfect heart walking in a perfect way. Perfect in all the will of God, is ever his one thought of what ought to be asked and could be found in prayer.
Paul prayed for the Colossians, 'that they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.' These two servants of God were of one mind, that young converts must be reminded that their knowledge of God's will is very defective, that they need to pray for a Divine teaching to know that Will, and that then one aim should be to stand perfect in all that will.
Let all seekers after perfection, let all who would be like-minded with Paul, note well the lesson. In the joy of a consecration sealed by the Holy Spirit, in the consciousness of a wholehearted purpose, and of serving God with a perfect heart, the believer is often tempted to forget how much there may be in which he does not yet see God's will. There may be grave defects in his character, serious shortcomings from the law of perfect love in his conduct, which others can observe. The consciousness of acting up to the full light of what we know to be right is a most blessed thing, one of the marks of the perfect heart. But it must ever be accompanied with the remembrance of how much there may be that has not yet been revealed to us. This sense of ignorance as to much of God's will, this conviction that there is still much in us that needs to be changed, and sanctified, and perfected, will make us very humble and tender, very watchful and hopeful in prayer. So far from interfering with our consciousness that we serve God with a perfect heart, it will give it new strength, while it cultivates that humility which is the greatest beauty of perfection. Without it, the appeal to the consciousness of our uprightness becomes superficial and dangerous, and the doctrine of perfection a stumblingblock and a snare.
Perfect in all the will of God. Let this be our unceasing aim and prayer. Striking its roots deep in the humility which comes from the conviction of how much there is yet to be revealed to us; strengthened by the consciousness that we have given ourselves to serve Him with a perfect heart; full of the glad purpose to be content with nothing less than standing perfect in all the will of God; rejoicing in the confidence of what God will do for those who are before Him perfect in Christ Jesus: let our faith claim the full blessing. God will reveal to us how perfect in Christ Jesus, and perfect in all the will of God, are one in His thought, and may be so in our experience.
Paul prayed for the Colossians 'without ceasing,' that they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will. Epaphras was 'always striving in his prayers' for them, that they might stand perfect in all the will of God. It is by prayer, by unceasing striving in prayer, that this grace must be sought for the Church. It is before the throne, it is in the presence of God, that tho life of perfection must be found and lived. It is by the operation of the mighty quickening power of God Himself, waited for and received in prayer, that believers can indeed stand perfect in all the will of God. God give us grace so to seek and so to find it.