With All Your Heart
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” Colossians 3:23
If you have been anywhere near the news lately you have heard the scandal concerning the teachers in the Atlanta Public School System. It is very disheartening to know that the teachers, that we are entrusting children to at a very important time of their lives, are cheating on the tests scores in order to keep their jobs as teachers.
I imagine there will be much more to find out and other issues to deal with before the whole thing is over. The one thing that I do have to say is that our teachers need the encouragement of the community that they are regarded as teachers regardless to what the experts say. Encouraging our teachers is an ongoing task. After being approved by agencies that we endorse, we must remember that the test will come. Some think that the test will only come to those working in the Federal Reserve or the movie theater or the new car sales department but we all have the test to face. The issue is a lot bigger than a person keeping their job, which is a huge responsibility but it is integrity. We all have that challenge. God expects people to live their lives with the decision to obey Him first.
One thing that will help us in our walk to be who we are is the fact that we are called by the Lord God to a certain calling. The great apostle Paul reminds us, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Ephesians 4:1
As a responsible theologian I would have to say that the operative word in this passage is ‘call’ because of the context. But I would like to say that this vocation, work or call is something that has been given to us. It is not something that has just come about by happenstance. It has been received by you and me from the Lord. As we have this calling from God we have to remember to continue to look to God to give us the rules of the game. Our giftedness comes from God because he wants to minister to others in a certain way. A teacher’s call is to minister to his/ her students in a wise, relational and yet truthful manner. When these three aspects of her ministry are discounted… “Houston, we have a problem.”
I know that we must make a living and continue to work to pay our bills but we have to remember, who is the source of the job that we have. As a Christian, we believe that God is in control of everything that happens. We have to keep in mind that living a life of integrity is more about honoring God than saving our skin. Paul was giving encouragement to those who were responsible for their very lives not just their jobs. In the first century Christians were always challenged by the Jews because Jews had special privileges in the Roman Empire and the Christians, at that time, many of them were Jews. So that created a whole new problem for them. Certain benefits given by the Empire and taxes being paid were at stake, Non-Jewish Christians were challenged about their ascent to faith and not reason or the norms of society. The job of the Apostles was to continue to encourage each believer to remember his/her allegiance to God above their responsibility to man. The theme is that even though we serve man we have a greater responsibility that is to the creator of the universe who called us to that task in His own way to begin with.
We also must remember that since we have been given this calling by God, there are forces that are at work against God too. This is where the test will come. Scripture gives great instruction into this struggle and challenges every Christian to obey God. Romans 6:12-14 says, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
Living under grace is much more of an incentive to obey God than living under the law of the flesh and the world that we live in but the enemy would have us all believe that it can’t be done. But that is where your faith comes into play. We have all been received into this wonderful family of God by His grace when we realized that life is meaningless without Him, so we must continue to believe that same thought. God called us into this world to make a difference in the world through us, so our marching orders must come from Him in order to make sense in this world also. Many times we are not inclined to follow the obvious will of God because we are not sure that He will look out for us in the long run. That is the problem. We must keep in mind the allegiance is to God even above ourselves because we do not know the future and He does. As was said by our Wednesday night teacher, Bro. Robert, last night, “Jesus has sacrificed so much for us, why can’t we give our best for him?” God expects us to give our best for him because we have given our lives and entrusted our eternity to Him. He will care for us every step of the way. Continue to have truth guide you through the trials of life. Remember that God has your back, in due time you will come out on top.
The last and final aspect of keeping in touch with our integrity is the excitement of doing a good job and knowing that you will be affirmed, accepted and received. God also gives us this promise through Paul in his letter to the Colossians.
NLT Colossians 3:23-25 “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites who can get away with evil.”
I remember years ago, working at a dead-end job, I became very weary of working there because I thought nothing would come of it. However, one day I was headed into work feeling sorry for myself and these words of Paul came to me. I resolved to do my work as unto the Lord and guess what immediately things changed. My own disposition toward the job was different. I began to make relationships with people that I knew that I never would relate to and God kept his promise because he kept me working at an on-call position steady for 4 years. After that he helped the employer (a big company), to give me those years as part of my full-time status with the company when I was hired full-time. That was all the Lord My God working in my favor and not the good graces of the company.
Working at it with all your heart unto the Lord is certainly the way to work because it changes your perspective on the job. Your outlook for your pay is beyond a paycheck because you realize that God does more for you than give you the ability to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18). God is at the drawing board for you and you can come to the table with Him. He will not mistreat you and ask you to compromise your Christian commitment. God is forgiving and so eager to assist you in fulfilling your goal, when it is His goal, which is best for you.
~ Former Assistant Pastor Horace Cutter