(Editor’s note: Find the other blogs for this series and other useful resources HERE.)
Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days (Ephesians 5:16 NLT).
Time is the canvas upon which God uses His obedient children’s efforts to paint a masterpiece. Only He can see the fullness of the plan He has made. Our time here is limited, so we see only a small part of His plans for us. Our Redeemer lives, and He has sent the Holy Spirit to help us redeem the time, to make the most of every opportunity to give God glory by what we do!
The best way to do that according to Scripture is to work from the soul.
If you read the last blog (HERE), then you may remember that “heartily” means “from the soul” in this verse:
Whatever you do, work heartily, 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 3:23 ESV).
“From the soul” moves my mind almost immediately to the Greatest Commandment of loving God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind (See Matthew 22:36-40).
Then it races to Jesus’ words where He says those who love Him obey Him (John 14:21, 23).
Unfortunately, my heart too often rebels and hides its disobedience in the form of excuses or rationalizations. But the Word, particularly Colossians 3:23, separates the lies away from me so I can draw closer to God and His plans for me.
“Whatever you do” work from the soul. Mediocrity can “do,” and it can even “work.” But does mediocrity work from the soul? With its whole heart? Not likely.
When I was in boot camp for the Army at Fort Dix, New Jersey, I remember being part of around 200 men doing calisthenics in a circle around a huge field.
The sun was just starting to show it would be rising again despite my mood. The air was fresh. I stayed in rhythm while doing jumping jacks. As one, we yelled out the counts, “One, two, three – one! One, two, three – two!”
Then from nearly sixty yards away, a drill sergeant starts moving toward the side of the field where I was. He came right up to me eyeball to eyeball. Chewed out? Yes. My lackadaisical work caught his attention.
I knew what to do, I was doing it, but even he knew I didn’t have my soul behind it.
How many of us are living like that? Every. Single. Day.
But it isn’t a drill sergeant looking at us and what we are doing. Jesus is.
Mediocrity. It’s not a good look for a Christian whether it's the world looking at us or Jesus.
Planned mediocrity, doing just enough to get by or not stand out, has to be a sin of omission (James 4:17). We are omitting it because of our fears or worries. Life is not always easy on this side of heaven, but God is always faithful. Faith defeats the worries of the world.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” wasn’t being lived out by me on the training field that day.
I pray we all can do better for the Lord.
We must work from our souls on the training fields we are given.
Have you ever considered how we do not rise to the level of our expectations but fall to the level of our training? Our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes are the training ground where God wants us to grow in the tasks He's given us.
We would change the world by being followers who walk enthusiastically in the faith. Perhaps that is even the beginning of the flames of revival – personal obedience that God uses to spark others to greater love of Him. Rather than seeking to get God to bring revival, a noun, why not seek God to revive you in obedience? Revive there is a verb. It is God taking action with your willingness to work from the soul. I'm writing this as much for me as anyone else.
These are the opportunities to seek God and serve Him. We can today gain the future crowns to cast before the King of Kings, Jesus (Revelation 4:10-11). These are the days we can plant seeds or water seeds. These are the days we may rejoice with the angels when a soul repents.
As far as I can tell from the Bible, we do struggle here in ways we will never have to again while in heaven. But we are not alone here. We have God and the joy of fellow believers working His will. We can encourage and edify one another.
If you, like me, have had moments of life you’ve tolerated or even hated (doing isn’t just about our jobs), then it is time for you to pray for wisdom and God to work on your heart. When I didn't seek God's face, my heart sank, my soul shriveled, and overwhelm even caused me to almost commit suicide twice. Now, I know what to do. Perhaps you might pray something like:
“Lord, forgive me for doing less than my best, even here. Let me find joy in you. Let your Word fill my heart, mind, and soul so that my strength serves you in all I do. Give me the wisdom to act courageously in whatever my hand finds to do today as I seek you more wherever I may be. Amen.”
Should someone ask why we work, no matter their reason, point to Jesus and share how He is the Redeemer who restored our relationship to God by saving us from the punishment for sin we all deserve. Share Jesus’ work that allows us to know by faith we are saved from the sins we should be judged for. Share we love Him through what we do because of His love for us. Our work is to glorify Him in whatever we do.
In part three, we’ll be visiting weddings, vacations, a biblically supported definition of success along with two powerful biblical traits to doing our best for the Lord. For a brief reveal of one of the traits, see the Holman Christian Standard Version of Colossians 3:23. This is a trait that science now understands improves the joy in work. May the Lord bless and keep you.