What Does It Mean to Grow in Spiritual Wisdom?

What Does It Mean to Grow in Spiritual Wisdom? (And a Free Guided Meditation)

Today it’s cornmeal rolls, a trip to our auto mechanic… oh, and this post.
Yesterday was fourth grade at Union Elementary, roasting a chicken, and making soup.
Every day has its list, and I’m sure that’s true of you as well.

As good citizens of American culture, we’re hardwired for productivity, and the checklist serves as both incentive and reward, both carrot and stick. We even use lists to maximize our prayer lives, and I’ve actually dipped into scripture and published a few articles out there on the great wide internet with titles like “The Prayers Our Teens Need Most” and “Three Ways to Pray for Adult Children.”

Right now I’m trying to memorize Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12, and it will surprise no one to discover that my first thought as I repeated it to the steering wheel of the Honda was, “Oh, I can pray these verses for my kids and grandkids:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 

A God-Inspired Checklist for Wisdom

Then I remembered a woman I know who was on her way to a rehab facility for a devastating and deeply-engrained addiction. Still in a state of obtuse denial, she chirped, “I’m looking forward to going there so I can be of help to the other residents.”

So, yes, I will commit Colossians 1:9-12 to memory, and I will certainly be holding the faces of my dear family close as I repeat the words, but I’m going to begin closer to home with this one, because who in the world doesn’t need more “spiritual wisdom and understanding?” This time, I’m going to hang the gospel hose over my own head for a shower of self-awareness.

Who in the world doesn’t need more “spiritual wisdom and understanding?” I’m going to hang a gospel hose over my own head for a shower of self-awareness. Paul’s prayer turns my love for checklists upside down because I’ll never arrive.

Reading these verses, I see an embedded checklist, revealing Paul’s clear purpose statement within his request. He’s not looking for Junior Bible Quiz trophies or a know-the-reference-of-every-verse whiz-bang level of scholarship. We aspire to “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” SO THAT we may live consistently with our beliefs, bear fruit, grow in faith and obedience, submit to God’s Word and Spirit, endure patiently in trials, and give thanks.

These five visible manifestations are the cart. The horse is the work of God’s Spirit to produce in us the gift of spiritual wisdom and understanding. To change the metaphor, all our acts of righteousness are byproducts that come as a result of the powerful collision of our everyday life with the creative work of the Spirit.

This notion turns my love for checklists upside down, because I’ll never arrive. Never will I be able to place a checkmark beside gratitude or patience or consistency as if I’ve mastered that spiritual fruit and am ready for varsity-level Christianity. I have an eschatological hope, but in the meantime, my righteousness appears as T.S. Eliot described in his Four Quartets as “only hints and guesses, hints followed by guesses; and the rest is prayer, observance, discipline, thought, and action.”

I invite you to pause with me in contemplation of Paul’s checklist. Rather than describing each point, I will simply list the quality (or the outcome) and then offer a trio of questions as a probe. May each point be a signpost for us on the trail of devotion. Remember, this is not Operation Bootstrap, but a call to mindful availability to the work of God wherever he puts his finger when our feet hit the pavement with the people we love.

And this exercise seems to call for a free PDF for you!
Download it or print it so you can keep it close for further meditation, self-examination, and conversation with the Lord who loves you.
(Scroll to the bottom for yours!)

5 Manifestations of Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding

  1. “Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (1:10)
  • Does my confessional theology (what I SAY I believe) align with my practical theology (how I actually live)?
  • Do my attitudes and responses line up with the mercy and grace Jesus demonstrated in his time on planet Earth?
  • Would anyone who shares my home address think of the words “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, or patience” when they think of me? (See Colossians 3)

2. “Bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (1:10)

  • What solid and practical evidence of a righteous life do I manifest?
  • Do I hunger and thirst for knowledge of God?
  • What do my calendar and my bank statement reveal as my top priorities in life?

3. “Being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might” (1:11)

  • Do I actively submit my will to God’s–even in the “little” choices I make every day?
  • What is my attitude toward the effects of the aging process on my outer, physical person?
  • When someone comments on my ministry, is it truthful to reply, “It’s God’s work through me that you’re seeing”?

4. “For all endurance and patience with joy” (1:11)

  • When a situation calls for gritty patience and endurance, where do I turn for help?
  • Is it my tendency to lean into tough times or do I prefer to numb out, escape, and distract myself with trivialities?
  • Where am I finding joy these days?

5. “Giving thanks to the Father” (1:12)

  • When I experience an answer to prayer, do I remember to thank God?
  • Do I find that gratitude overrides my natural movement to jealousy, covetousness, resentment, or discontentment?
  • When is the last time I gave a verbal, heartfelt thanks to one of the people who does life with me on a regular basis?

In this following life, we are like blue-collar workers, laboring in God’s shop using the raw materials he provides. May we build soundly and beautifully, by faith.

Holding You in the Light,

For You…

It’s easy to download or print this guided meditation in this PDF format so you can keep it close for further meditation, self-examination, and conversation with the Lord who loves you.

Simply click on the printer icon or the download button where you see it on the image.

If you have a friend who might like this, please share the post with them, and if you’ve received this post from a friend, I hope you’ll subscribe so we can stay in touch!

In this following life, we are blue-collar workers, laboring in God’s shop using the raw materials he provides. Pause with me in contemplation of Paul’s checklist for spiritual wisdom and understanding with this free guided meditation.

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12 thoughts on “What Does It Mean to Grow in Spiritual Wisdom? (And a Free Guided Meditation)”

  1. Wow! What a powerful post. I am a list maker, too. Love to make those lists, but follow through…ummm, not so much. So you caught my interest right away with this post. You challenged my thinking, which I sorely need, and then gave me the tools, (those great questions), to help me on my way. I downloaded my copy. Thanks for that and thank you for your writing. I definitely needed to hear this today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of my favorite biblical prayers, for myself and for loved ones. I’m reading Hannah Anderson’s Humble Roots right now and am encouraged that becoming humble (and, I think, taking on any spiritual characteristic) is not so much a matter of trying harder but becoming ever more aware of my creaturely dependence on my Creator.


  3. Lately, I’ve been feeling led to write down a scripture passage for everyone on my list. This is quite the challenge finding just the right scripture for each person’t situation. However, last night when I was going through the list, I realized there was someone I’d forgotten – ME! And now, you’ve provided the perfect scripture for me to write down beside my name. Thanks, Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You have provided so much food for thought. I agree with you that Col. 1:9-12 are wonderful verses to pray for our kids and grandkids. When you broke down each part of the list, I needed to pause to ask myself the same questions to test how I faired as God’s daughter. Great post!


    1. That’s the process I went through as I read the verses and it’s what inspired the post. We have to give ourselves time to interact with the text for our own hearts even as we pray over our loved ones!


  5. Another WOW from this corner! I’ll be printing this out for further meditation, just as you’ve recommended. Thank you for sharing this truly, Spirt-inspired checklist, Michele!


  6. Lists give my mind rest from worrying about what I’ll forget – if something needs to come off the list because life happens, I can adjust – but until I put it down for reminding, I have no rest. Memorizing is not my strength anymore – but putting prayers for my children and grandchildren in an easily accessible place is. You are so right, though – I need to pray for me, too. I need God’s wisdom and knowledge to handle the challenges I walk through – because the ones that are the hardest, only He can guide me. I want to put that same gospel hose over my head for that shower of self-awareness, too! Shalom, my friend!


    1. You’ve said all this so well. I also view my lists as a brain dump, and once something has been nailed down with my pencil, it’s safer.
      Glad to be standing with you under that hose!


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