by David Lemmons

You might recognize the expression of the title of this article as coming from the pen of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:23.  Please notice verses 22 through 25…
22  Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24  Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  25  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons

In this section of Paul’s letter to the saints at Colosse, instructions are given to various categories of Christians.  This particular instruction is for SERVANTS or SLAVES.  If we would make proper application of the text to our day, we would take the principle and apply it to employer/employee relationships.  The extent of the obedience mentioned is given as “in all things.”  Of course, this would not include instances when an employer makes some demand that would cause the Christian to disobey God (Acts 5:29).

In verse 22 the concept is put forth that it is possible to obey WITH EYESERVICE (opthalmodouleiais); the idea being of service or labor that needs to be watched (i.e., if someone is not watching, a less than full effort would be put forth by the servant).  In our modern setting, there are those who are “clockwatchers” and are not so productive at those times, as they long for the time to leave the place of employment in order to get on to their own concerns.  Paul teaches that the Christian is not to work in such a fashion, but rather he is to do his work in SINGLENESS OF HEART, fearing God.   There is a higher and nobler cause that drives the Christian in all that he does, including what he does at the work place.  He does what he does in order to bring glory to God and out of fear of God.  There is a SINGLENESS OF HEART that moves the Christian to render the kind of service that does not require constant watching and prodding along.  That singleness of heart is the desire to be well pleasing in the sight of God.  To please God like Enoch of old did when he “walked with God” (Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5).

The Christian has opportunity at the work place or wherever he finds himself to be a shining light of influence (Mt 5:14-16).  In another passage written by Paul to servants, he suggests what has to be an amazingly attractive and awesome opportunity.  Listen to the instructions…

Titus 2:9  Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10  Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Now the possibility of actually ADORNING the doctrine of God ought to be quite exciting to all of us.  As we go about our work we have opportunity to represent before others what it means to be part of God’s family.  We can make Christianity attractive to those who are outside of Christ in a lost condition.

The part of the passage from Colossians that I would like us to focus in on is that part that talks about doing WHATEVER we do HEARTILY.  Yes, the context is that section dealing with slaves or servants.  However, can we not see how inconsistent it is for a Christian to do anything he does in any other way than the way that the Holy Spirit demands servants to work for their masters?  After all, it is clearly pointed out that all Christians (whether we be an employer or an employee in the work situation) are the servants of the Lord Christ (v. 24).

If we would study the word HEARTILY in the original Greek, we would see that it is the same word root that is often translated SOUL.  The idea is that of working with your whole heart, with all of your being.  Putting your entire self into the work.

Colossians 3:24 speaks about the motivation for doing whatever we do heartily.  The reward is not the paycheck at the end of the week, but the one that is coming further down the road.  It is the reward that comes from serving the Lord Christ.  It is the crown of life (Rev 2:10).

When I think of this passage, I think of my need to be concerned about excellence in whatever I do.  I need to be doing all that I do HEARTILY.  As a Christian, I serve the Lord Christ.  As a Christian, people are watching me and they need to see a true and genuine Christian.  Those watching me need to be influenced toward that which is right and good.  They need to be led by my behavior to ask a reason of the hope that is in me, and I need to be prepared to give them that answer (1 Pet 3:15).

How often do we settle for something far less than our very best?  How often do we go about our daily tasks in an unconcerned and flippant way, never giving much effort, never putting our entire being into that which we are trying to accomplish?  How often is the work of the church dealt with in a Laodicean-like fashion–apathetic and thus sickening to our Lord (Rev 3:14ff)?  May we not be instructed by this one word: HEARTILY?

Next time you are called upon to perform some task, why not allow this word from the Holy Spirit to ring in your ears.  Let us all decide to render the service we render in whatever place or time it is rendered, HEARTILY.


Man Plowing

Holding a Grudge Can Be Costly…

One day a visitor leaned on the old fence around a farm while he watched an old farmer plowing with a mule.  After a while, the visitor said, “I don’t like to tell you how to run your business, but you could save yourself a lot of work by saying ‘Gee’ and ‘Haw’ to that mule instead of just tugging on those lines.”

The old farmer pulled a big handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his face.  Then he said, “Reckon you’re right, but this animal kicked me five years ago and I ain’t spoke to him since.”

The moral of the story seems obvious.  A grudge is harder on the one who holds it than the one it is held against.

The apostle Paul said that we are to forgive one another if any man have a quarrel against any.  Just like Christ forgave us, we are to forgive each other (Colossians 3:13).

Friend, if God and Christ can extend mercy on you for your sins, surely you can be merciful to those who offend you.

Photo above from: http://buckcreek.tripod.com/

My SOURCE for the article: Church bulletin of Third and Bethel Streets church of Christ, Box 251, Mammoth Spring, AR, 72554.  This church produces the Fulton County Gospel News.

–David Lemmons

001:21-29, Grounded & Settled

by David Lemmons

Paul makes an appeal to the saints at Colosse that is quite powerful and is eternally relevant in the first chapter of the Colossian letter. In Colossians 1:21 Paul reminds these saints of their former position–“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.” It was a glorious gospel that was preached to the people of Colosse. It was a message that made it possible for those who were once God’s enemies, because of their sins, to be made friends with God. Paul reminds these Christians that it was through the blood of the cross (v. 20) that this was made possible. Instead of being alienated from God and being His enemies, the gospel message–heard, believed, and obeyed–made it possible (verse 22) to become or be presented…

  • HOLY,

That is an amazing and greatly to be desired result!

Paul makes mention twice in verses 23 and 25 that he is made a minister–of the gospel, and of the church, respectively. What is it that Paul was to do as a minister of the gospel? He tells us the answer to that question in verse 25–“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God.” It was Paul’s work, as it is ours, to spread the word of God so that it might have its intended result of providing these rich blessings mentioned in verse 22 to all mankind. He also answers this question about his work as a minister in verse 28–“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Paul saw the need to warn and teach so that men might be presented perfect (i.e., complete or mature) in Christ. Please notice the emphasis upon EVERY MAN in this verse. In accord with the wonderful mystery of the gospel that, it is FOR ALL MEN, Paul emphasizes the fact that it is possible for all men to hear and obey God’s will and to grow and mature in Christ.

Another very exciting concept that Paul gives in this context is found in verse 27–“To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ IN YOU the HOPE OF GLORY, is a statement that should challenge every one of us until the day we die or the Lord returns, whichever comes first. The idea of living our lives with such a goal is the challenge Paul presents here. It is that which Paul continually taught wherever he travelled. The way to get Christ IN US is by following His example. We must open up His word and be guided by it. Having Christ in us is the only way that we have the hope of glory.

As we consider that truth–that we must have Christ in us to have hope of glory–surely we can also see the tremendous import of Paul’s statement in verse 23–“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”

How vitally important is it for us to be GROUNDED and SETTLED? Well it is about as important as anything you can come up with in your mind. Can you seriously study Colossians 1 and doubt that statement? We must never move away from the hope of the gospel. We must never move away from the things that are taught in God’s word. The things that Paul was teaching are things we now have in written form in the New Testament.

Let me assure you that there are those among us who would seek to move you away from some of the distinctive teachings about the Lord’s church that are found in the New Testament. They would have us to compromise in our presentation of the hope of the gospel so as not to offend or to drive away those in religious error whom they desire to befriend. The direction they would have us to travel is away from the truth.

We must commit ourselves to following the example of Paul. We must continue to preach, warn, and teach in all wisdom (Col 1:28). To the very best of my ability that is indeed my intention and desire. The cost of not being GROUNDED and SETTLED is far too high!


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