…covers many of the same topics as Ephesians does and in much the same order.
Please notice the following brief statement of introduction to Colossians…
“INTRODUCTION TO COLOSSIANS: Paul is writing this letter from prison in Rome. He says in the last verse of the book, “Remember my bonds” (Col 4.18). Colossae was located in the Roman province of Phrygia only twenty or so miles from its companion city of Laodicea. No doubt this accounts for the several times that Laodicea is mentioned in this book (Co 2.1; 4.13-15) and for the exchange of epistles between them. This letter was sent to the church in Colossae at the same time that Paul sent the letter to Philemon regarding Onesimus (Col 4.7-9). It is a companion letter to Ephesians, evidently written at the same time, and also sent by the hand of Tychicus (Col 4.7; Eph 6.21). It covers many of the same topics as Ephesians does and in much the same order. It was written in response to a report by Epaphras regarding the church there (Col 1.7-8). This report was mainly encouraging, but evidently (considering the topics covered in the epistle) also included news of some false teaching that might lead some astray” [Darrell Conley, “Philippians and Colossians—A Summary,” in Studies in Philippians and Colossians, Editor: Dub McClish, 2000 Annual Denton Lectures, p. 38].
I hope you will find the study guides listed below to be helpful. The first is a combination of the others, a 37-page PDF document. If you find them helpful in your study, please tell others where they can be found.
You might recognize the expression of the title of this article as coming from the pen of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:23. Please notice verses 22 through 25. In this section of Paul’s letter to the saints at Colossae, instructions are given to various categories of Christians. This particular instruction is for SERVANTS or SLAVES. If we would make proper application of the text to our day, we would take the principle and apply it to employer/employee relationships. The extent of the obedience mentioned is given as “in all things.” Of course, this would not include instances when an employer makes some demand that would cause the Christian to disobey God (Acts 5:29).
In verse 22 the concept is put forth that it is possible to obey WITH EYESERVICE (opthalmodouleiais); the idea being of service or labor that needs to be watched (i. e., if someone is not watching, a less than full effort would be put forth by the servant). In our modern setting, there are those who are “clock-watchers” and are not so productive at those times, as they long for the time to leave the place of employment in order to get on to their own concerns. Paul teaches that the Christian is not to work in such a fashion, but rather he is to do his work in SINGLENESS OF HEART, fearing God. There is a higher and nobler cause that drives the Christian in all that he does, including what he does at the work place. He does what he does in order to bring glory to God and out of fear of God. There is a SINGLENESS OF HEART that moves the Christian to render the kind of service that does not require constant watching and prodding along. That singleness of heart is the desire to be well pleasing in the sight of God. To please God like Enoch of old did when he “walked with God” (Gen 5:24; Hebrews 11:5).
The Christian has opportunity at the work place or wherever he finds himself to be a shining light of influence (Mt 5:14-16). In another passage written by Paul to servants, he suggests what has to be an amazingly attractive and awesome opportunity. Listen to the instructions. Titus 2:9–Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
Now the possibility of actually ADORNING the doctrine of God ought to be quite exciting to all of us. As we go about our work we have opportunity to represent before others what it means to be part of God’s family. We can make Christianity attractive to those who are outside of Christ in a lost condition.
The part of the passage from Colossians that I would like us to focus in on is that part that talks about doing WHATEVER we do HEARTILY. Yes, the context is that section dealing with slaves or servants. However, can we not see how inconsistent it is for a Christian to do anything he does in any other way than the way that the Holy Spirit demands servants to work for their masters? After all, it is clearly pointed out that all Christians (whether we be an employer or an employee in the work situation) are the servants of the Lord Christ (v. 24).
If we would study the word HEARTILY in the original Greek, we would see that it is the same word root that is often translated SOUL. The idea is that of working with your whole heart, with all of your being. That is, putting your entire self into the work.
Colossians 3:24 speaks about the motivation for doing whatever we do heartily. The reward is not the paycheck at the end of the week, but the one that is coming further down the road. It is the reward that comes from serving the Lord Christ. It is the crown of life (Rev 2:10).
When I think of this passage, I think of my need to be concerned about excellence in whatever I do. I need to be doing all that I do HEARTILY. As a Christian, I serve the Lord Christ. As a Christian, people are watching me and they need to see a true and genuine Christian. Those watching me need to be influenced toward that which is right and good. They need to be led by my behavior to ask a reason of the hope that is in me, and I need to be prepared to give them that answer (1 Peter 3:15).
Next time you are called upon to perform some task, why not allow this word from the Holy Spirit to ring in your ears. Let us all decide to render the service we render in whatever place or time it is rendered, heartily!