Seldom do we think of how our work reflects our submission to Christ as Lord. But here’s the reality: Disgruntled workers have a bigger issue than just a bad attitude. When we serve in such a way, we bring reproach upon the God who called us to do that work. The Christian’s charge is simple: work with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord, and give it your all. Confess that Jesus is Lord, in word and in deed (Col. 3:17).
Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters; not by way of eye-service as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartedly 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.
— Colossians 3:22-24
In the beginning, God created. Put another way, he was at work. In all his creating, orchestrating, and designing, he fashioned man to function much as He does. And so, we work too. We bag groceries, we manage projects, we wash the car, we lead meetings, we build bridges, we change diapers (yes, dad… you can do that too. Stop being a baby). We take out the trash, we fix the showerhead, we balance budgets, we write reports, we do the dishes (…yes). Did I miss anything? Of course. Almost everything.
Work is part of us because we are made in the image of God. And yet, since the fall, work has not necessarily been easy or always satisfying (Gen. 3:17-19). Work is good, but work is hard. Work can reward much, but it also requires much. We are made to work, but work can be altogether frustrating.
Believers that are honest would say that such frustrations don’t go away simply because one believes in Jesus. The State of the Global Workplace 2022 report by Gallup found that only 21% of employees are engaged at work, and 33% consider their well-being to be thriving. What that means? It means 8 out of 10 people aren’t enthusiastic about their work, don’t like to work, and don’t think their work matters. It also means that two-thirds of people are drowning in the frustrations of life’s toils. And my guess, even as Christians, we often fall into those groups.
The antidote to these frustrations isn’t simply to work harder or try more or give up. In Colossians 3:22-24, the apostle Paul would have us see that a change in how we think of work only comes from a submission to the Lordship of Jesus.
In other words, if you claim that Jesus is Lord of your life, your work will look different because of it.
Let’s look at how Paul discusses the topic in these few verses:
Heed Your Master
One big hold up at work might be your boss, your supervisor, or whoever’s in charge and whatever you call them. But that’s not how it should be in God’s economy. You honor Christ as you honor your master. You serve Him well by serving your earthly authorities diligently. This is the principle that Paul gives as it comes to faithful labor. “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters” (Col. 3:22).
I can hear you now. “You just don’t know my boss, though. You don’t know the criticism I get every single day. You don’t understand the lack of appreciation for all that I do. I’m overworked, and severely underpaid.” Is this not the natural mindset? We are inclined to obey insofar as it benefits me or, at the very least, if I feel like it. We will do the job insofar as it pays enough, we are treated well enough, and we recognized enough.