“Whatever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not for people.” – (Colossians 3:23)
Have you ever been around someone who totally throws himself into whatever he is doing? Whether it’s an exciting new project or a ho-hum daily task, whether it’s running a campaign for local office or taking care of a sick child at home, he seems to have only one gear, full speed ahead. It can make you tired just watching a person like this, but it can also be quite inspiring.
As Christians, we should certainly try to give our best effort to our daily work, our relationships and our responsibilities. The old adage puts it this way: Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Actress/singer Ethel Waters is credited with saying, “I know I’m somebody, ‘cause God don’t make no junk.” As people who claim to be followers of God, we should also hold ourselves to the same standard – whatever we do in life, we shouldn’t be about “making junk.” There’s enough of that around; we should use our time and energy to create things of quality to replace the junk surrounding us.
In the Apostle Paul’s exhortation quoted above, there are two clues as to how we can improve the output of the lives we live; the first is make sure of where our activity is coming from, and the second is to concentrate on where it is going to.
The coming from aspect of our efforts is found in the word translated by “heartily.” The original Greek is ek psuche, which literally mans out of your soul. A well-honed athlete may run a consistent four-minute mile out of his body. If he listens to his coach, he will be able to strategize the race, pace himself and position himself among other runners; this thinking may enable him to add to his success out of his mind. But the really great mile runner will also run out of his soul, motivated and propelled by that indefinable will to win that separates him from other runners. That same coming from the soul factor is essential if we are going to give our best effort to whatever we are doing.
The going to aspect of our effective, positive living is expressed in our text by the words “as to the Lord, and not for people.” If we were to see our every task, no matter how small, as assigned to us by God, what a difference that would make! The efficiency and quality of our work would certainly be much higher, since we’re accountable to him. And if we hear his voice saying, “Well done,” we would be able to shrug off unfair criticisms that earthly bosses might aim at us.
When Paul says whatever you do, he is not talking about glory jobs that capture headlines. Whatever means whatever. That includes, according to the examples Paul writes about, two kinds of “jobs” that existed in his time, but we don’t accept in our day: wives submitting to their husbands (verse 18) and slaves obeying their masters (verse 22). These extreme “whatevers” dramatize how universal the principle is, that doing something as to the Lord can enable us to do it from our soul.
— Pastor George Van Alstine