Christians sometimes try to divide what they do into two categories—secular and religious. But God doesn’t have different sets of rules for our various tasks. Everything we do is to be done as unto the Lord whether on the job, in the home, at school, in church, or in the community. Since this encompasses every aspect of life, we need to know what the Bible says about work in the lives of believers. Let’s read Colossians 3:17 and Colossians 3:22-25:
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (v. 17).
“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality” (vv. 22-25).
In this passage, it’s important to remember Paul’s historical context is different from our own, and that he’s not condoning the institution of slavery. Here, Paul’s primary concern is our posture—the way we carry out our work. Although his focus is on the master-slave relationship, the principles apply to all of us today. Everything is to be done for Christ, with a heart of gratitude and sincerity. There is no room for halfhearted efforts or negligence because we think no one is watching. In fact, Paul says we should fear the Lord in all we do, because He’s the one who sees. It is God we serve; He is the one to whom we are accountable and who will reward us for a job well done.
Now let’s examine what else God says about our work.
• We are stewards of all that the Lord has entrusted to us. A steward is a manager of his master’s affairs, and as Christians, we have each been entrusted with the good works the Lord has ordained for us. The goal is not to compare ourselves with others but to be found trustworthy (1 Cor. 4:2). In Luke 12:42-48, Jesus tells a story about two stewards—one who was faithfully doing his assigned job and another who slacked off—to illustrate how His followers are accountable to Him. As Scripture tells us, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (v. 48).
• To accomplish the work God has planned for us requires discipline. The apostle Paul likened the Christian life to a race and said, “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things” (1 Cor. 9:25). If we want to receive a “Well done!” at the end of our life, we must bring our appetites, emotions, mind, priorities, and tongue under the Lord’s control. If we don’t, these things will become detours that sidetrack us or encumbrances that weigh us down and keep us from finishing the course God has planned (Heb. 12:1).
• How we go about our work matters. Even if we accomplish all the tasks before us, our results could still fail to please God. It isn’t because He’s a harsh taskmaster or perfectionist but because how we work is as important (if not more so) to Him as what we do. As Martin Luther said, “We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.” In other words, God wants His children to have joyful, willing hearts as they carry out the tasks they’re called to, and to do their work with excellence. (See 1 Cor. 9:7.) Shoddy work or labors done with a sour spirit just won’t cut it.
• Who is determining what you do—you or God? How can you know if you are following the Lord’s plan or your own agenda? What would change in your life if you considered yourself a steward of God’s things rather than the master of your own life?
• As you examine your motives, standards, and work ethic, what changes do you need to make in order to become a more faithful steward of Christ?