By Mark D. Proctor
Pastor, Highland Park Baptist Church, Columbia
When I graduated from college, my goal was to be a millionaire by the age of 30. (Today, at 53, my goal is still to be a 30 year-old millionaire!) My hard-driving, workaholism dishonored my family and God. As I tried to reconcile my ambitions with God’s Word, I listened to every sermon I could find about God and work. Surely, my work had to matter to God. My problem was that being successful was a “me goal” not a “He goal.” In our passage today, we find that our work matters to God because it glorifies Him and our reward for that is an inheritance.
Note that Paul’s most Christological letter, Colossians, speaks plainly about our work, “… In whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father …” (Colossians 3:17). Submissive wives, serving husbands, and obedient children carry that behavior into the church and workplace and become obedient workers because we fear the Lord (v. 22), because we are working for the Lord (v. 23), and because we expect an inheritance from the Lord. The one we answer to, the one we work for, and the one who rewards us is called “the boss.” For the Christian, work and it’s resulting success can’t be “me goals.” Work is about the glory of the boss — God, and God has no ability to be disinterested in something that ultimately results in His glory.
Paul says that the first step in glorifying God with our work is to “obey with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord …” (v. 22). The word used for fearing is the Greek word from which we get our word “phobia.” And just like we run when something scares us, the word carries a sense of motion with it. Workers, who are humble servants of Christ, are in motion to honor God, not because we’re afraid he’ll beat us if we’re found lazy but because, “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9 ESV). Laziness associates us with the destroyer. As a Christian, we fear this association and rejoice that we work for the real boss.
Paul says further that work, done with respect and awe of God, is to be hearty work. We can find workers with no heart and half-hearty workers, but it’s hard to find hearty workers. In our home, we taught this by telling our children that half-hearted work receives no pay but full-hearted work gets a bonus.
Finally, Paul speaks to the many who disrespectfully overlook the hearty work and focus only on the reward. These are the wrongdoers he mentions in verse 25. Notice here he doesn’t say they get rewarded but “paid back” (v. 25).
Does the work of your hands glorify God or you? Do your fingers and feet move and tremble and resonate with the joy of serving Him? The reward is an inheritance. Now that’s a “He goal!”