Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, (ESV)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (NIV)
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (NLT)
“Work hard, diligently, and servant-minded.” We all know this is the call on our lives, but what happens when our boss doesn’t follow the same rule book? What do we do when our co-workers compromise and take home a larger paycheck than we do? How do we have integrity and hard work when it seems like no one cares anyway? The answer is found in our verse this week and those surrounding it. In Colossians 3:22-24, Paul writes, “Obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.” NLT
When we work mainly for our “boss,” we tend to cut corners to appease their perception of our work. Alternatively, no matter what we do, when we fear God first, we work with a full heart, integrity, and diligence. Working for the Lord leads us to serve those he has put in authority over us.
Working hard, or hardly working?
Are you watching YouTube when your boss isn’t looking and switching it at the last second when you see them walking by? You’re working for the approval of a man. Are you diligently working hard and realize you made a mistake when punching in the numbers, and it’s not that big of a deal, but you admit your wrongdoings anyway? You’re serving God first. Admittedly, working hard for the Lord is not only in the workplace. It’s in all areas of our lives. Hard conversations of confession and humiliation come from serving God first because we all have mistakes to admit and wrongdoings to confess, but doing so leads to life and authenticity. We aren’t only called to admit our wrongdoings but also to recognize them and turn from them. Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 4:28; “If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.”
We must learn to serve God alone. The way to know if He is our main thing is by examining our integrity. Simply put, when we serve man, we tend to boast of our righteousness and success and conceal our mistakes. Rather, when we serve God, we live a life of righteousness when no one is looking, as well as admit our wrongdoing and boast of our weakness.
Seek the approval of God
Galatians 1:10 - For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Finding belonging and approval in what we do and who we love is a desire we all have. The truth: desiring approval is not what Scripture condemns; it is seeking it from the wrong source.
When we seek approval from those around us, it will always end in exhaustion and utter disappointment. If you desire true satisfaction, lasting joy, and abundant peace, your desire for approval must be found in God alone. The good news is that those of us who have believed in Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins already possess His approval. In Him, we are transformed into new creations, and His righteousness is laid upon us. We can have abundant joy through the truth that we have obtained His righteousness. When you believe in Jesus, He certainly forgives your sins, but he doesn’t end there. He also grants you His righteousness, status, and satisfaction.
On the flip side, living a life for the approval of man leads to an inauthentic life where we try to manage the perceptions of others. We get so caught up in the facade that the person we are trying to prove we are to others is not who we become. Our pursuits end in emptiness when we realize the person we think everyone is impressed by isn’t even us. Sooner than later, no one knows us, and any perceived gain from human approval has been utterly lost. The Gospel, on the other hand, demands authenticity, and it leads to great freedom. Freedom to be real, genuine, and authentic, all of which lead to abundant peace and joy. It’s not an easy road, and it certainly requires humility. However, seeking the approval of the created only results in exhaustion, disappointment, and endless striving. Basking in the approval of Christ results in abundant life.
Work hard for God alone and, through it, live in sacrificial humility and authenticity with one another because the Creator of the ENTIRE universe sacrificed His life for yours and calls you friend. Bask in the goodness of that today. That Jesus calls YOU, friend! Not because you deserve it or even because one day, you will, but because He chose to love you and give His life for you. Surrender your life to Him, and let Him change you into who you were first created to be and who His word calls you to be. Christ’s love for you will change you; it is offered to us as we are, but it doesn’t keep us where we are. Instead, it invites us into deeper surrender that leads to a truer life.
We must remind ourselves daily that our salvation is a free gift. Our actions and good works should flow from a heart that is filled with gratitude for what God has done for us, not as an attempt to earn favor. May our love for others and pursuit of a sacrificial life be a reflection of the love that we have already received from Him.
Written by Blake Stanley