“Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23)
There are some verses in the Bible that we can admire because we take them rather lightly but when we look more closely at them we might wish they were not in the Bible at all. It is the other ‘bookend’ of another such verse: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (v 17).
We may have no problem giving a hearty “Amen” to these two verses but the heartiness may diminish when we look at what is between the ‘bookends.’
The context of these verses are our relationships with other people with special highlighting on the more intimate and built on love – the same kind of love that God has for us (vv 14-16). They presuppose that the love of God flows out of us through Christ in us (1:27c).
As he does in Ephesians Paul first mentions the marital relationship. Our thoughts, words and deeds within the marital relationship are our service to Christ and a witness of Christ’s gracious working power. For both husband and wife that means living together as God planned.
Apart from having “Christ in you” there is also another prerequisite for this to be possible: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (v 16). It is up to us to discover what the Bible teaches about how we live in a marriage. Paul goes on to say how we can know what the Bible teaches on this and any subject, “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
It is all very well to leave it up to the preacher but that is not what Paul or Jesus had in mind.
The other relationships are children to parents, fathers to children and, dare we acknowledge it, our work place. Can you believe that Paul says that all our thoughts, words and deeds at work at school or in the home are our service and witness to the Lord Jesus Christ? No wonder some don’t want to acknowledge to work mates (or school mates) that they are Christians!
Paul writes that our work is our service, our parenting is our service and our marital relationship is our service for Jesus.
The more we meditate on this passage and those like it the more we realise that it is infinitely beyond us to conform to it in practice. When we realise that fact we finally know the truth: We cannot live it, only Jesus Christ in us can live it. Let us stop getting in the way and let Him do so.