August 18, 2014.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
I was riding home from UAMS today feeling on top of the world. I had all the motivation in the world, so it seemed, to save souls, save lives and cure disease. From time to time I go though these short periods of high determination and I love them. Until reality sets back in and I realize that even with all the motivation in the world, some things are just hard. That’s not to say they are impossible, but hard nonetheless. And it seems to never fail that I get into these high productivity moods when I can’t really do anything about it, such as driving in a car back to my apartment. Fortunately, all is not lost when I settle down from the clouds and I can still be pretty productive. Just not quite as productive as I would have liked to have been.
That’s sort of what I want to talk about today. The attitude that Christians should have when it comes to the everyday grind, our work and the projects we take on. We are studying zeal in class at the church I am attending and part of the book we are reading gave four tips to protect zeal, and one of them was to have zeal with diligence. Often we can easily apply this to things pertaining to the Lord. We can be excited about a mission trip or make a lot of preparation for a VBS. We can be very diligent in attending services and put our full heart into whatever we do for the church. Yes, this is hard too at times, but not as hard as putting that much effort into say work or school (a general statement that doesn’t apply to everyone). I remember distinctly as a kid thinking how cool it was that people sung at church. Ask people to sing in any other function and they might decline because of their nerves, but there is something about when you are doing it for the Lord and not for man that just makes it easier. I suppose part of that, too, is the fact that most everyone else is participating with you, which is in and of itself an amazing concept and a topic for another day.
But do you notice what Paul writes to the Colossians? “Whatever you do…” I think a necessary step if we want to find zeal in our Christian walk is to do everything with our full heart. To do everything with a certain amount of zeal, if you will. Sure, we can focus on what we do on Sundays or Wednesdays, or maybe a couple of weeks out of the year for VBS or a mission trip, but if we are displaying this kind of diligence in everything we do, are we living up to our call? Paul tells the church at Colossi to do everything with their full heart, knowing that their reward comes from God and not man. As Christians, the world should look at us and think “Hmmm, there’s just something different about them. Something good. Something I need.” We are supposed to let our light so shine before men, not just in our words (though they are important) but also in our actions. There was someone who said that the Christian should be the best (insert profession here) on the staff. If you are a mechanic, you should be the best mechanic at the place. Not necessarily the best as in literally better and smarter than everyone else there, but the most hard working. The one who is putting in a full effort, no matter what the task. I know that this is a difficult thing to live up to and we will often not be what we should be, but I do believe it is a good goal for us to strive for.
Are you doing everything fully? Do you consider the work you do for the Lord even when it seems it is for your boss or your coworkers? Imagine a specific task you do on a routine basis. Now imagine God stepping in the room one day and asking you do to that task for him. Is there a difference in the way you would carry out the task? There are tasks that I do that I think I would do very differently if in the tangible presence of God. But, if God is omnipresent, then are we not always in the presence of God in some sense? Paul said that everything we do should be done heartily. God would not want something done for him in half-hearted manner (if I were one to use profanity I would have chosen a different term). That’s what makes us different.
Our life is a testimony to the world, even when we don’t speak. This statement has so many profound implications that I don’t think we fully grasp, or at least not all the time. Think of your day and everything that happens in it. Were the things you did glorifying to God? I’m not talking about always having some spectacular display of the love of Christ where everyone stops and just stares in amazement and inspiration. The little things count. So much. Picking up a pencil for the woman sitting beside you. Holding a door open for some people behind you. The little things that simply show that you care and that what you do, you do for a higher purpose, not just to please man. The detailed evaluation you are supposed to write or the fully stocked supply room that has been tasked to you. When we do the little things (and the big things when they come along, sparingly as they may be) people can really start to see the testimony of Christ that we display in our bodies, if they pay attention. And even if they don’t, the reason we are doing it is not to be seen of men, but to be seen of God. We will receive our inheritance as our reward. Paul gives this admonition to the church at Ephesus:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
The way we conduct ourselves makes a difference. A big difference. He makes a similar admonition to the Colossians soon after making the statement to do everything with their full heart:
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
This is our mission. This is our goal. This is our way of life, not just on Sundays. We are Christians, and we are sent into a fallen world in need of a loving savior. If we can show the love of Christ and the diligence of Christ simply in the way we conduct our lives, why would we not? Yes, it can be hard. No one said it would be easy (and if they did, they might not have read very far into the bible). But everything that is here on earth will pale in comparison with the life to come, and we want as many people to be there as possible to share in the joy of the Lord.
Let’s glorify God in everything we do. Let’s open opportunities with each step and each action for the world to see Christ. You don’t have to be a preacher to preach Christ. You don’t have to go to school for ministry to show the diligence that Christians should display. You just have to be the best you can be through Christ. Try it, and you just might surprise yourself about how much you can do through Him and how much of a difference it can make.
Suggested Daily Reading: Ephesians 5, Colossians 2-4.
The grace and power of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.