Whatever You Do: Colossians 3:17
July 24, 2017
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Whenever I read Colossians 3:17, I cannot help but think about one of my former students, Connor. We were working through this chapter at Bible study one evening when he interrupted the reading. “Everything?” he asked incredulously. “So when I get up in the morning and make myself an omelet, how am I supposed to do that in the name of Jesus?”
I think that’s a fair question.
This instruction from Paul is a well-known, oft-quoted verse but when one stops and considers its implications, it can be intimidating. Are we really supposed to do everything in the name of Jesus? But what about my free time? What about my job? How does this apply to everyday errands or trips to the DMV? Am I allowed to hit the snooze button anymore?
It helps to consider the context of this statement as it appears in the midst of Paul giving instructions to the church in Colosse. For much of the letter, Paul devotes his attention to clarifying his Christology and refuting heresies that are sprouting up in the early Church. But as the letter ends, he moves on to giving practical advice and encouragement for those seeking to live faithfully unto God.
Paul reminds his readers that they are to put away the “old self” in favor of new life in Christ (vs. 5-10), that they stand on equal footing before God (v. 11), and together they form one body (v. 15). As they live in Christian community, instructing and encouraging one another (v. 16), everything they do is to be offered as an act of faithfulness rooted in thanksgiving to God.
“Whatever you do” is less about the minutiae of everyday life and more about our roles as wives, husbands, children, parents, masters, and servants (vs 18-25). Whatever our lot in life, whatever our vocation or title dictates, we are to do that work wholeheartedly, because when we do we are serving Jesus (vs. 23-24).
At Sioux Falls Seminary, we are looking at this verse through the lens of stewardship and accountability. The application is clear: when we are proper stewards of the resources that God has given us, it enables us – administrators, educators, and students alike – to live out Paul’s call to faithful living. Whatever we do, our goal is to do it in the name of Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him!
So what about Connor’s question? Is it possible to make an omelet to the glory of God? Of course it is! Taking care of one’s body and being thankful for the nourishment of healthy food can certainly be incorporated into a life of devotion. At times, every Christian will fall short of giving everything to God. But when we “set [our] minds on things that are above” (v. 2), we have faith Christ is with us through all of it. May this be true of us as Jesus’ followers, as Sioux Falls Seminary, and as the Church!