Jump Start # 2502
Colossians 3:23 “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”
Our verse today is interesting when one considers the larger context and picture of what is going on behind the scenes. One of the messengers who carried Paul’s letter to the Colossians was Onesimus, the run-away slave that the book of Philemon is about.
The slave, who was now a Christian, was carrying this letter to the church about instructions concerning slaves and masters. He was returning as a slave. Paul did not grant him freedom. Paul didn’t have that right and couldn’t do that. He left as a slave and now he was returning as a slave. And, with him, he carried apostolic instructions about how slaves were to behave. We are not told why he ran. We can guess all day, but we just do not know. But now that he was coming back, he would know, as well as the church, just how he was to conduct himself.
This is where our verse is found. Paul lists a series of four instructions:
- Obey your masters completely (22)
- Work as if you are working for the Lord (23)
- You serve the Lord (24)
- There are consequences for doing wrong (25)
It is interesting that the N.T. didn’t outright condemn slavery. That would have upset the political empire of Rome, where it is estimated that slaves outnumbered free men, three to one. Yet, in every culture that the Gospel saturates, slavery is eventually abandoned. It is hard to practice the golden rule when you own someone. That’s certainly not the way any one would want to be treated.
Our verse transcends not just the world of slavery, but the work ethic and spirit we are to carry as we labor in our jobs. Work heartily—boy that seems missing in many places today. Work as if you are working for the Lord—that is missing as well. In far too many places, doing as little as possible seems to be the norm. People would rather shop on line, gossip, and do nothing, while receiving a paycheck for supposedly working. More money and less work is the spirit that too many carry.
Now, for the people of God, there ought to be a noticeable difference in the way we work. Hiring Christians ought to be a blessing, not a pain and a regret. We must go against the norm of today and be the excellent workers that God wants. That includes us preachers. The lazy preacher is a curse to himself and the kingdom. It is easy these days to get lessons off the internet, use class material that others have written and spend your day playing rather than working. Shame on all who do this. Work hard. Bust it. Give it your all. Wear yourself out for the Lord.
Here’s a few suggestions:
- Make fill in the blank notecards to go along with the sermon and powerpoint. It’s been said that people will remember so much of what they hear. They will remember more what they hear and see. They remember still more what they hear, see and write. It’s not hard to do and it certainly doesn’t take long to do them. I showed a few to a preacher a while back. His comment was, “that’s too much work.” My thought was, what are you supposed to be doing? Work, man.
- Write your own class material. Make it attractive. Put some color on it. Doing this makes you get deeper into what you want to teach and the direction that you want to go. Again, this is work. But isn’t that why one is being paid? You are to teach, preach and encourage. Get at it, man.
And, as one does this, keep the wonderful spirit that you are doing this for the Lord. The end of the year is a killer time for me. There is so much to be done as the new year begins. Theme books to be prepared for the year, new quarter of classes, new month of quick quotes to get ready, another batch of Friday Fives to present, always the Jump Starts, sermons and dozens of other things. Long hours are put in to getting everything just right. Are these things necessary? Do they have to be done? Why not take off time like the rest of the world does? Because, working heartily as for the Lord means giving our all. Nothing less than excellence is expected.
And, when that spirit carries over to a congregation, folks will do the same. They will burn the midnight oil to make sure everything is up and running for a Sunday worship. They will go out of their way to make sure the place is clean and polished. They will make sure all the lights are bright, all the copiers have toner, all the steps are swept off, all the communion trays are ready. The song leader will approach his song leading with this spirit. The shepherds will approach their work with this spirit.
We give it our best, because we are doing this for the Lord. In the old days, we’d be bringing an unblemished lamb to the Lord. We don’t do that today, but we bring our unblemished hearts and work ethic to the Lord. Give it the best, because God is the best. Give it the best, because God has given His best. Give it the best, because anything else simply isn’t good enough.
Remember that ole’ hymn, “We’ll work, till Jesus comes, we’ll work.” That’s the spirit. It’s not just working, it’s working our best!
Heartily and to the Lord—can’t beat that!