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In honesty I have to admit there are times I do the things I do somewhat half-heartedly. I do enough to get by. I exert myself just enough so as to not make a complete fool of myself. It’s not that I intend to do what I do in a shoddy way. It is more that I can settle for something just a step above mediocrity.

Unfortunately–for me as well as for those I do life with–this even gets carried over into my relationships with others and my relationship with Jesus. I can satisfy myself with having done enough . . . at least enough from my vantage point. Presuming inappropriately upon grace from Jesus and upon the benevolence of others and having my excuses conveniently at hand (too tired, too much to do, too many demands, a long week, a long month, a long year, etc.), I set my sights on merely getting a passing grade in life.

But I wonder what that says about how I am living in life with Jesus.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am absolutely convinced from the Scriptures that we neither earn the Lord’s affection or maintain our standing in his good graces by our performance. I do not merit favor. I do not labor to put God into my debt so that he is obligated to bestow blessings.

But having given me life, and having put his Spirit within me, having made me part of his family, having united me to Jesus, having rescued me from sin and death and judgment, my life could well be an appropriately lived-out “thank you” for his marvelous and unbelievable grace. I could give myself to the life he lays before me with a vigor and a passion that conveys my deep appreciation for all he has done.

I think that is the kind of thing that Paul had in mind in writing to the Colossians. In chapter three of that letter, he explains how we are privileged to live out the life in Christ we have been freely granted. Writing specifically to slaves, Paul points out a way of thinking about labor that has bearing on everyone–slave or not. His words speak to me.

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. (Colossians 3:23)

Whatever you do. That must include all the things I end up doing to fill up my day. The appointments and conversations, the solitary brainstorming and the group projects, the sweaty manual labor and the agonizing mental gymnastics.

Do you work heartily. The expression is, literally, “from the soul.” It’s an all in, fully engaged, truly participatory kind of idea. In the work we do we should really be there, doing it.

As for the Lord. That really is what our living and our labor is all about. We have been purchased by God through the sacrifice of the Son. We have been given new life by the Son and through the Spirit. All that we are has been redeemed so that we can belong to him, be his people. So it only makes sense that whatever the labor he sets before us to do, we do it “as for the Lord”–we are really his servants engaged in the labor he sets before us.

And when I get that–when I see it–my heart turns within me for settling for something just above mediocrity. It isn’t a matter of compensating God for his grace, as if my giving myself to the work he sets before me pays him back in some way. It isn’t a matter of balancing the scales, as if my good works benefit God in some way similar to how his grace benefits me.

It is more a matter of living my life with an awareness of the magnitude of the gift of life he has given. Living my life knowing that what I am and what I can do is all a work of grace. Living my life as if a hundred lifetimes would be inadequate to express my delight and joy in this life he lets us share with him. Living my life “heartily, as for the Lord.”

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