By Kristen Utley
Approximate completion time: 60 minutes
Read: Colossians 3:15-4:1
Memory Verse: Colossians 3:23
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, I pray for your precious daughter as she reads these words today. Wherever she finds herself in this moment, I ask you to clear space in her mind and her heart so that she can hear your voice speaking truth and purpose into every area of her life. Strengthen and equip her as she intentionally works to reflect and honor you with all her heart in everything she does and everywhere she goes so that she can share your light with the world around her.
I’ve been going to church my whole life, which means I’ve heard Paul’s various messages countless times. While I’ve always admired his strong intellect and wisdom, never have I connected with Paul on such a human level before. After studying this little gem of a book, Colossians, so intensely, let me tell you, I’m a fan. This giant of the faith has become a very real man to me. I get him now. I see past the meticulously articulated letters to the undertone of a man so passionate and on fire for God because of his own drastic transformation. He knew full well that he had been divinely commissioned to spread the word of Christ. Every fiber of his being desperately wanted everyone to know that message and he worked tirelessly to spread it, even when it cost him everything.
That passionate heart of his is fully evident within these 12 short, but jam-packed, verses in Colossians that we are studying this week. These verses cover a wide range of topics and walk us through the places, people, and presence of Christ in the midst of our everyday lives. But, it’s our key verse this week that is the beautiful thread that weaves through each of these and binds them together, challenging us that in “whatever we do” we “work at it with all our hearts” as if we are “working for the Lord”, all while doing so with sincerity, peace, gratitude, and unity in Him as the motivation of our hearts. If you were to only have 12 verses of the Bible, these would certainly be a great start to a beautifully led, Christ-honoring life. So, let’s unpack them a bit.
When we meet Paul in Colossians, he is imprisoned—again. I can’t imagine many places more boring, monotonous, and mission hindering than being incarcerated. While most of us aren’t sitting in a literal prison right now, maybe you’re in a stressful, thankless job (yes, that includes you precious mommas), in a difficult situation, are lonely, just trying to make it through school so your “life can begin”, or facing retirement and unsure how God will use you now. Maybe the mundane nature of your everyday life makes you feel trapped, longing for more. But, your big, God-sized dreams have to wait out the current season of life you find yourself in. Maybe you’re like me in the hamster wheel of never-ending dishes, cleaning (bums included), carpool line pick-ups and drop-offs, and laundry. Endless. Laundry. Now, I love my life, but divine Kingdom work is not the way I would naturally describe some of these activities. Can I get an amen, sisters? It’s hard to feel like you can make a substantial, lasting difference in the Kingdom of God while you’re changing diapers, working in your cubicle, hanging out with those friends, in class, running those errands, or wherever else your daily routine takes you. So, does any of it matter? Really matter? It’s a question I’ve wrestled with over and over. What about my story is special—significant—when it all seems so ordinary?
Then it’s here—with Paul sitting in yet another prison—that something about his example stands out to me. He knew that if he worked hard to “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:15-17) God would, too. He invited God into that uneventful, still place (and we know how God just loves to use those). He prayed. He wrote letters. He ministered to guards. He trusted God’s plan and timing. He did whatever he could do to make God proud of his use of that time. Do you think he could, from his limited human perspective, foresee the outcome of his faithfulness? Just how far these prison letters would reach? Did he know that almost two thousand years later, we’d be sitting here, soaking in his words to improve our own efforts to live our lives for Christ to the fullest? Did he know that quite possibly more good, lasting fruit was to come out of this season of seemingly nothingness than all his other missionary efforts? True to his nature, God showed just how much He is able to do with even the smallest offering from anyone in any situation that fully submits that space to Him. Even the least obvious circumstances, like Paul rotting away in a jail cell, are made whole and used to the fullest measure.
What of your daily circumstances can be dedicated and repurposed to allow God to enter and turn divine? What has the potential to influence or benefit others? Could you imagine if folding laundry became divine Kingdom work because you prayed over each of the little bodies (and big ones too) who will fill these clothes that wherever they go they will shine so brightly with the love of Christ that it changes the world around them? What if the kindness shown to your co-workers leads someone in need to turn to you because there’s just something different, comforting about you? Maybe it’s that God thing they’ve heard you talk about, but whatever it is, they need it right now in a way they never have before and you’re the only one around them that has it. What if you decided to see your relationship with your grandchild or that younger woman as a mentoring opportunity, becoming a voice, maybe even the only one, that fills their hearts and minds with God’s truth? Maybe it’s the way you intentionally show the love of Christ to those cute, little, energy-draining people in your life (even when you are spread so thin that it takes all you have to muster a heart of kindness and grace towards them because every button pushed has sent you into your own temper tantrum mode—not that I know—moving on), and you do it because you know one day they will grow into big people who will then have their own little people in need of God’s grace, and so on, and so on until generations of God’s people are written in history because of—you. If you’re still not convinced that this is possible, remember Timothy, Paul’s own protégé, whose foundation of faith was laid from his mother and grandmother’s examples (2 Timothy 1:5). Our homes and places of work are fertile grounds for planting seeds of God’s truth.
“Whatever you do, WORK at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not human masters.” Colossians 2:23
Work. It takes work to change your perspective and be in constant tune with the opportunities around you. This means you might have to fix a vision problem you didn’t know was there by putting on a new, stronger lens called gratitude, especially for your current season, so that you can “set your mind on things above” (Colossians 3:2). This lens demands that you view even the most unassuming parts of your life from a higher, more purpose-filled perspective. Let me tell you, as you are looking up to Him, He is taking notice of every single attempt “whether in word or deed” (v. 17) you make to “revere (honor) him with a sincere heart” (v. 22). He is your watchful audience, and your biggest fan, cheering you on, hanging on your every word, and beaming with pride over you. If you look at it like that, then your work or place in life, whatever that looks like for you, transitions from a pleasing others, performance-based approach to become an act of worship with Him as your sole audience!
When you decide to make serving and pleasing the Lord your primary goal, the people in your life will undoubtedly feel the ripple effect of that focus. Believe me, I get it. Sometimes, it’s no easy task to reflect Him within our marriages, relationships with our children, friends, neighbors or co-workers. It’s not hard to see when one of these relationships is out of balance. When bounds are overstepped, someone is taken advantage of, selfishness is chosen, and walls of mistrust, anger, friction and divisiveness are built. Paul says:
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18
Take a look at all the verbs Paul uses within our text regarding interacting with others that show us how to do this:
“Teach…Admonish (caution, advise, or counsel)…Love…Obey…Do not embitter or discourage…Submit….”
Now please don’t loose me here or become sidetracked by the misconstrued versions of a couple of these words. Paul is talking about a showing of mutual love and respect modeled after the way Jesus so lovingly served others and submitted His own will to obey the leadership of His trustworthy, loving, and good Father, God. Every single one of these words points us towards peace and unity with others. But, why is that so important? In John 17:20-23 Jesus himself, while praying, called for those that believe in Him to have “complete unity…so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” It depends on us. We either testify to the watching world around us for or against the nature of God by the way we interact with others.
That’s why these words must soak into our hearts, dear friends. All these places and people in our lives matter—greatly. Every person in your path is an eternal soul. Your words or actions might be the very thing that either directs someone toward Christ or away from Him. It’s a matter of being intentional and consistent with the focus of your heart. If He is the same yesterday, today and forever, and He is in you, then who He is in you will never change. And if that is true, then who you are as His representative should never change either. The version of you that others see at church should be no different than the version of you at work or any of the other places you go because, to God, there is no difference between your secular and spiritual life. Since we are members of one body, Christ’s, the way we go into the world should be with the same spirit of peace, unity, and love above all.
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” Ephesians 4:16
He is asking you to do whatever He has given you to do, wherever He has placed you to do it, as a witness to His love toward whoever is in your life’s path.
So, invite God in. When you do, things will change. They have to. They absolutely cannot stay the same. Because when God enters, He brings with Him:
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
“The Lord gives strength to his people.” Psalm 29:11
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” John 14:27
“The Lord blesses his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11b
“His power is made perfect in my weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9a
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” Psalm 32:8
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Now may the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will.” Hebrews 13:20-21
So many of God’s promises at work, and this isn’t even a complete list! Ladies, we each have the same opportunity here! Remember verse 25 of our text, “There is no favoritism.” You are His precious, beloved, adopted-by-grace daughter who He sought after (Isaiah 62:12), fought for (Exodus 14:14, Deuteronomy 3:21), and offered His name to (John 1:12)! Let that truth sink deep into your heart! Believe that these promises apply to you, yes YOU! “You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4). You have been adopted and chosen by the Most-High King! Offer every part of your life to Him as a thankful response for that unearned, undeserved, gifted inheritance (verse 24). Put those glasses of gratitude on so you can see all the opportunities to represent His family name wherever you go, in whatever you’re doing, whomever you’re with. Be patient while He works all things in your current season out for a greater good. Just focus on Him—the One who writes your story: the One who can take the watered-down flavor of our everyday lives and turn it into a mature, fine-tasting wine. Because He’s a God who loves us enough to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20) in our lives and deserves ALL of our heart’s and eyes on Him. Only Him. He chose YOU for your life, your current place. “The most prominent things are not the most significant, what God has called YOU to do is the most significant. —Christine Caine”. I need to believe that my life’s story, whether big, small, pulled-together or a complete mess, very exciting or very ordinary, matters. And so do you.
My prayer for you this week is that you will take the time to dive into these verses yourself and allow them to challenge you, change you, and grow you more fully into the version of you that your loving Father sees when He looks at you! Then, you will be more fully equipped go out into the world and exemplify the very real love of Christ to everyone in your path! Be ready and on the lookout—things are about to change!
- Wherever you find yourself today, what hinders you from or excites you about sharing the truth and love of Christ with the people in your path?
- Identify a mundane or seemingly purposeless area in your life and invite God into it. Ask Him to show you how it can be transformed and turned into divine Kingdom work!
- Which of these promises do you have the most trouble believing? Ask God to, “help you in your unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Which of these promises give you the most hope or confidence to live more fully where you are?
- If God is really in you, and you are truly His representative here on this earth, then what are you going to do with that information? How does that change the way you live your life? Spend your time? Interact with others?