Friday, June 3, 2011

Work At It With All Your Heart

This month's verses to memorize for my Hidden Hearts group is Colossians 3:23-24: "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." My first thought upon reading and memorizing those verses was that it can be scary to think about how we are working for the Lord. It definitely should improve how we do things if we kept that in mind! God wanted to teach me so much more about these verses though!

I decided to read the section where these verses were found to put them more into context. I started at verse 18 which talks about how wives should submit to their husbands. I thought to myself how that is not always an easy thing to do! I noticed that verses 23 and 24 are actually in a paragraph that begins with verse 22 which tells slaves to obey their earthly masters. My first thought upon reading that was maybe verses 23 and 24 were just geared towards letting slaves know how to focus on how they should think while working for their masters, but God quietly reminded me that we are all sin! I knew immediately that these two verses were very relevant to all of us today!

I then felt I should go back and look at the verses in this section again, which is labeled in my Bible (NIV version) "Instructions for Christian Households". First, Colossians 3:18 addresses wives and tells us that we should submit to our husbands, as is fitting to the Lord. For some women, that is an extremely hard thing to do. Other women may find it easier to do, but they probably found it hard to do at some point in time. There may still be an occasion where they struggle with submitting. Why is it hard for us to submit? I think it is because it is a natural thing for people to want to get their own way. We want to be in control and make our own decisions. When you submit to someone, you are allowing the other person to have control. Submitting is not an easy thing to do. It takes work.

Colossians 3:19 addresses husbands and tells them to love their wives and to not be harsh to them. I know at first you might think that it should be easy for a husband to love his wife. Why then are there so many divorces? Why do so many men cheat on their wives? Men have a very strong sexual urge and sometimes they look elsewhere to get that need met. Husbands need to determine in their hearts to NOT look at another woman in the wrong way or let their minds wander so they don't fall into that sin. It is not easy. It takes work. Also, after a long day at work, it can be easy for a husband to be harsh to his wife, especially if she starts nagging him about something the second he comes through the door. Wives need to be mindful of the fact that their spouse probably needs some time to unwind before you hit them with a list of demands or even with bad news. As much as you may need/want to talk about your day, think of what your husband needs and try to give him some time to relax. For some husbands, it is very easy to just give a gruff or harsh response when they feel disrespected. Men also don't like to be wrong. Of course, women don't like to be wrong either. The problem is that most men do not find it easy to discuss their feelings, so they get harsh when they are hurt or offended. It is possible to overcome this, but it takes work.

Colossians 3:20 addresses children and how they need to obey their parents in everything. Yup, if you are a parent, you know very well how hard it is for children to obey you! When children are told they need to obey EVERYTHING their parents say, I'm sure it would seem like an impossible task for them. It is possible, but it takes work.

Colossians 3:21 tells fathers to not embitter their children or they will become discouraged. Again, most men are not good with expressing their feelings. It can be easy for them to be harsh with their children when their children are disobeying, getting mouthy, arguing, doing poorly in school, etc. If a dad always gives a harsh or critical response to their child, that child can easily become embittered and think that nothing they do is ever good enough. They may even feel unloved by their father. Dads (and moms too!) need to learn the art of thinking before they speak, especially when it comes to speaking to their children. It is definitely not an easy thing to do, especially when their child(ren) are misbehaving for the billionth time, but it is not impossible. It just takes work.

Finally, Colossians 3:22 says "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." When I read this verse, I usually think of people who work as the "slaves" and the boss as the "earthly master". It makes it easier to understand then we should always be working to the best of our ability, whether the boss is watching us or not.

After reading all those verses, we then get to verses 23 and 24 which tells us that WHATEVER we do, we are to work at it with ALL our heart. If you noticed in all the previous verses, what we are commanded to do takes WORK to accomplish. No, the things in the verses are not easy to do; but they aren't impossible either! When you put your whole heart into something, you can usually get it done. It especially is easy to keep working at it when you remember that the reward you will receive for doing what the Lord commands far outweighs the hard work you put into it! As Christians, we need to keep in mind that the Lord is always watching us and He wants us to give 100%  in everything we do. Whether it is the job we get paid to do here on earth or whether it is at home being a wife, husband, child, or father, we are to do everything as unto to the Lord. We are serving Him! We will receive an inheritance from Him one day. Eternal life and any riches that we earned while here on earth will be ours when we enter heaven after hearing Him say "Well done, thou good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of the Lord!" When you look at it that way, doesn't it make it a little easier to decide to do what the Lord commands even though it may not be easy?