Read: Colossians 3:18—4:1

Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters. Colossians 3:23

Slavery was simply a part of life in the first century. In fact, people often offered themselves and their families as slaves, because the life of a slave could be easier than a life of starvation as a serf. This is not to say that slavery wasn’t harsh at times, but it wasn’t necessarily the oppressive institution we imagine. For the New Testament writers, all people had masters—earthly or heavenly. In the end, Jesus was believed to be Lord and Master of all. Therefore, obeying earthly masters and doing daily tasks as if they were being done for Jesus allowed people to understand their service to others as sacred work. Work done well, with a cheerful spirit, was a way of glorifying God.

We often grumble when it feels as if tasks are stacked too heavily upon us. At times we bemoan both our work and our bosses. We accomplish the tasks before us, but we do so grudgingly. As a result, we don’t put forth our best efforts, and our work and our relationships with those with whom we labor suffer. What if we treated all the work before us as tasks to be done for Jesus himself? When we are called to serve a family member or put in extra time in the office or volunteer in ways that are more taxing than we anticipated, we can imagine ourselves doing it all for Jesus himself. How might that change the spirit with which we work?

What service or work do you engaging in grudgingly?

Lord, there are times when I feel embittered by the work that is left for me to do. When I am forced to serve in ways that are not pleasing to me, I perform in ways that negatively affect my work and my relationships. Help me to think more often of the service You rendered to me and to the world. You gave Your life for us . . . Perhaps I can more cheerfully offer my services to others. In Your name, I pray. AMEN.