And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:32-24)
This section of Paul’s letter to the Colossians reads almost like the book of Proverbs. It is filled with lots of practical, easy to understand instruction about a wisdom-filled life that glorifies God. In this part, the apostle wrote to bondservants – people obligated in employment to others. It’s not a perfect analogy, but the ancient bondservant-master relationship was something like the modern employee-employer relationship.
In that context, Paul told the Colossians (and us today) to do everything heartily, as to the Lord. The “do” in this context mainly has in mind the work we do, but it really can be extended to everything we do.
Whatever you do, do it heartily. Put some passion and effort into what you do. Don’t work or play like a robot, doing a job but with no heart. It’s been said that there are no boring days, only boring people. Whether at work or play, living life heartily reflects the glory of God and it gives Him glory.
Whatever you do, do it as to the Lord. Realize that in work your real boss is God. In recreation your real partner is God. He is Master and Lord over all, so all should be done as to Him. If God directly asked you to clean a window, you would do a great job. Doing everything as to Him makes a big difference in attitude and performance. No Christian should be a dishonest, lazy, or unreliable worker.
Whatever you do, do it not to men. It is likely that a flesh and blood human being is your supervisor or customer. Like all humans, they have their faults. This usually affects your attitude toward what you do for them. Yet the Christian does not ultimately serve men, but God. Lift your service to heaven; elevate it from earth.
Whatever you do, realize you will receive the reward. Sometimes hard work does not get rewarded on earth. But God knows how to take care of His people, and for them none of what they have done as to the Lord will go unrewarded. Do your work heartily and as to the Lord and you will always come out ahead.
At the end of verse 24 Paul repeated an idea when he wrote, for you serve the Lord Christ. According to Wright, this is an unusual phrase. Elsewhere in his letters Paul wrote the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be that Paul’s idea was that our true master, our true boss is Jesus. So remember whom you work for—you serve the Lord Christ.
If we think of Jesus as our true boss, remember that He was and is the greatest “undercover boss” of all time. He came to live, serve, and suffer among us. Jesus knew what hard work was like in all His years as a carpenter or builder. He did all His work heartily, as unto His Father. He can sympathize with you in the difficulties you have to doing whatever you do heartily as unto the Lord, and He can strengthen you to do it better. Then, at the end of it all, He rewards you for what He strengthened you to do! You’ll never find a better boss than Jesus.