I dropped my forehead to my hand with a sigh, “I don’t know how I’m going to get it all done.” My friend’s voice crackled through the phone: “You have to give yourself some credit. You’re doing a lot.” He then listed the things I was trying to do—maintain a healthy lifestyle, work, do well in graduate school, write, and attend a Bible study. I wanted to do all these things for God, but instead I was more focused on what I was doing than how I was doing it—or that perhaps I was trying to do too much.
Paul reminded the church in Colossae that they were to live in a way that glorified God. Ultimately, what they specifically did on a day-to-day basis was not as important as how they did it. They were to do their work with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12),to be forgiving, and above all to love(vv. 13–14) and to “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus”(v. 17). Their work wasn’t to be separated from Christlike living.
What we do matters, but how we do it, why, and who we do it for matters more. Each day we can choose to work in a stressed-out way or in a way that honors God and seeks out the meaning Jesus adds to our work. When we pursue the latter, we find satisfaction.
12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.16Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
In what ways do you do things out of need or obligation rather than for God’s glory?
How do you think meaning is found in Christ rather than accomplishments?
It appears that the faith community in Colossae was a sister church to the church at nearby Laodicea (the same Laodicea Jesus so strongly challenged in Revelation 3:14–22). Paul writes to the church at Colossae: “After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea”(Colossians 4:16). Not only were these cities close geographically, but there was a solid relationship between them—even to the point of sharing their letters with one another. Additionally, the church at Colossae received a letter written to one of its leaders, Philemon. The Colossians would have had the benefit of no less than three letters from the Apostle Paul.