“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23–24)
Solomon Northup was a free-born, African American from New York, his father was a freed slave, and his mother was a free woman of color that lived in New York (which had been a free state since 1799), but Solomon was kidnapped in Washington DC and taken to Louisiana where he was forced into slavery and would remain there for twelve years until he would be found by his family and freed. The thought of someone taking us against our will and forcing us into slavery is a horrific thought, and thankfully the laws have changed, and slavery was abolished, but if we were to think about the matter for a moment, everyone is a servant in one way or another. Some are servants to their jobs (never missing a day, going in early and staying late, doing exactly what they are told to do), some are servants to their hobbies (some people neglect important areas of life because their dedication to golfing, fishing, hunting, etc.), some are servants to sin (being trapped by Satan and avoiding everything to indulge in the pleasures of the world), and some are servants to Christ (these are the ones that many may label as “radicals” “religious fanatics” or “Bible thumpers”). In the book of Colossians chapter one explains the salvation that is found in Christ, chapter two discusses our separation to Christ, and chapters three and four instruct us to be servants for Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 paints the perfect picture of the type of servant we are to be for Christ. Starting at the end of verse twenty-four, we are reminded that we are to serve the Lord Christ. There is a comparison that is being made in this passage between those that were slaves to men and those that are slaves/servants to Christ. During the time of the writing of Colossians there were some that were slaves to slaveowners, but the emphasis of this passage is our service toward Christ and not our service to men. Verse twenty-three reminds us that we are to do everything to the Lord and not unto men. There were some Christians that were slaves, there are Christians today that work and have to answer to someone in the position of authority, but the emphasis of our lives, as Christians, should never be the work that we do for men, but it should be the work that we are doing for the Master, our Lord, Jesus Christ. This world is filled with plenty of masters that rob the Lord of servants in His kingdom. Mankind has not stopped finding ways to put a wedge between us and our service to God. It has been stated that on average there are about twenty percent of the people in any congregation that are doing one hundred percent of the work. Most of the time when there is work to be done in any congregation there is an overflow of people that are willing to pass the buck, expecting someone else to do the work, and not enough faithful servants to do what needs to be done. We need to be reminded constantly that we are to be most concerned with our service to Jesus Christ. In Luke 18:18ff, the rich young ruler thought he was serving the Lord because he had kept the commands of God from his youth and asked what he lacked, but when Jesus told him to sell all he had and give it to the poor and follow Him, the man went away sorrowful. This man thought that he was keeping the commands of the Lord and was serving faithfully, but Jesus reminded him there was one thing lacking, he must be a follower of Jesus. May this young man serve as an important lesson in our lives, teaching us that just because we have obeyed the commands of God to obtain salvation, and just because we may assemble for worship, there may be areas that we are lacking in also.
Since we have been told to be servants of Christ, how do we accomplish this mission? Thankfully. God has given us knowledge of how we are to serve Jesus. Our Father in heaven has never given a command without giving knowledge of how to carry out that command. We are told that we are to be serving Christ (v.24), but in the previous verses we are told how to accomplish this. We are told we serve by obeying His will (v.12-24). We serve by putting on the proper attitude (v.12), producing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22ff), and having the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5ff). We serve by having the proper attitude toward fellow servants (v.13), forbearing and forgiving one another, and serving one another in love. We are to be servants to Christ in all that we do (“whatsoever ye do” Col. 3:23). We are also told that we serve Christ by not doing certain things. We are not to continue in sin (Col. 3:5-9), mortifying our members which are upon the earth, separating ourselves from the world in order to faithful serve Jesus.
Unlike those that serve the world, sin, or mankind, those that are faithful servants of Christ will receive the reward at the end of their service. Many men and women have been servants to jobs and work diligently for many years and when they retire, they are quickly replaced by someone younger that can accomplish the work they were doing. Our reward for serving Jesus faithfully is unlike any award/reward and cannot be compared to any other reward. The rewards that men receive on earth will someday melt with fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10), but our reward for faithful service to Jesus is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4-5).
If we were able to ask Jesus if there was anything lacking in our service to Him, how would He answer? Are we serving the Lord “heartily”, giving Him the very best of our efforts? Is there a reward that is reserved in heaven, waiting for you because of your faithful service to Christ?