Colossians 3:18 – 4:18
John Newton said, “If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God – one to go down and rule earth’s grandest empire, the other to go and sweep the streets of its meanest village – it would be a matter of entire indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will.”
Paul encourages the Colossians to the same kind of indifference in service. In the context of Colossians 3, Paul is speaking to slaves about how they should serve their earthly masters. In Colossians 3:23-25, Paul calls the believers in Colosse to faithful service for the Lord. Paul addresses the manner and motive of their service.
In verse 23, Paul indicates the manner of service. He says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily.” The word heartily means “out of or from the soul.” Paul says a slave’s work should be heartfelt, without self-seeking and grumbling. It is important for believers today to do their work heartily.
Do you put your heart and soul into it, or do you just “throw something together” at the last minute? Do you serve with joy and thanksgiving, or do you complain and grumble? Of all people, followers of the Lord Jesus Christ should be the most pleasant and proficient employees in any business.
In verses 23 and 24, Paul states that our motive for service should be the Lord. Paul gives slaves a three-fold motive: 1) He says our work should be done “as for the Lord,” 2) he tells them they will receive a reward (an encouraging thought to slaves who owned nothing), and 3) he tells them they will be punished by God for what they do wrong (v. 25).
Consider the first motive. In verse 23, he says a slave’s work should be done “as for the Lord.” In verse 24, he says, “It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” These statements certainly apply to our direct work for the Lord. They apply to teaching Sunday school, serving as a deacon, serving as a pastor, singing in the choir, and all other aspects of work in the Christian life. Our service is for the Lord, and He is the object of our service. Our motive is to serve Him and please Him, not to serve and please men.
However, in the context of Colossians 3, Paul is referring to slaves serving earthly masters in the first century Roman world. Therefore, Paul was saying to slaves: “When you prepare your master’s food, it is the Lord Christ whom you serve. When you wash clothes, feed the livestock, plow the ground, etc., it is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”
What better way to lead an unsaved master to Christ? What better way to lead your boss and co-workers to Christ? Your actions in the workplace will speak louder than your trite religious clich?s.
– Lessons by Frankie Melton, pastor of Heath Springs Baptist Church, Heath Springs. He has a B.A. degree from Charleston Southern University, and a Ph.D. and M.Div. from Southern Seminary.