Jesus is saying to us today that the motivation for our good, hard work is not to be noticed by him but comes from already being noticed by him. We are under his kind watch. He is not only infusing our work with his grace to honor and glorify him and provide goods and services to others that help them flourish, but he is also receiving all our work unto himself as service to him. No task is meaningless. How could it be? Jesus is in it.
Last week, I posted a word about slavery in Paul’s address to bondservants in Colossians 3. This was, basically, an excerpt from a sermon i preached on the entire passage of Colossians 3:22-4:1. It is a passage often used to speak to how Christians are to work. I think that is the right way to approach the text, and i wanted to provide another excerpt from my sermon today.
In Colossians 3:18-4:1, Paul shows the fullness of Christ for our home life. In the first four verses, he addresses husbands, wives, children, and parents. Then, in verse 22, he addresses bondservants, or slaves. It’s the same word. In this address, we might expect Paul to start a different way. Why address the slaves before the masters? But this is how Paul arranged the entire section. Why not the husbands before the wives? Why not the fathers before the children? Paul started with the powerless because the powerful are always first. He started where there is the least natural hope. There is grace and mercy in even the arrangement of the verses. God’s word is amazing.
Paul tells the bondservants to “obey in everything those who are your earthly masters.” This is similar to his command to children. Of course, Paul is not condoning sinful behavior. Bondservants are not to be disobedient to their masters, but if their masters ask them to do something sinful, they have a higher master. They are to obey their earthly masters, but they are to fear the Lord. Jesus not only limits the slave master’s authority but also frees the slave to disobey when morally necessary. Their earthly master is only earthly. Jesus is the big boss.
We all have an earthly boss. Someone demands our time and attention. How are we to obey? How are we to work? “Not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” There are two things here—a positive and a negative. Negatively, we can’t slack off when no one’s looking. Jesus’s eye is ever upon us. Positively, we don’t have to hope someone notices our hard work. Jesus’s eye is ever upon us. Both of these are good news. There isn’t a meaningless moment. The King of the Universe is right there with you. When the King notices you, you can’t slack off. You don’t want to. When the King notices you, you need no other praise. His is enough. Someone once asked G.K. Chesterton, “If the risen Christ suddenly appeared at this very moment and stood behind you, what would you do?”