The Canadian born author and theologian, H. A. Ironside, tells about working as a boy in the late 1800’s to help his widowed mother. For a while he worked for a Scottish shoemaker or”cobbler” named Dan Mackay.
Mackay was known for his faith in Christ and his willingness to openly share it with his friends, neighbors, and customers. Ironside said his shop had a pile of gospel tracts and his Bible was usually open on the counter
Once Ironside suggested to his boss a short-cut to resoling shoes that would save time but sacrifice quality. Upon hearing his idea, Mackay stopped his work. Opened his Bible. And read Colossians 3:17.
“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Mr. Mackay then said, “Harry, I do not cobble shoes just for the four bits and six bits (50c or 75c) that I get from my customers. I am doing this for the glory of God.” He said that when he reached the judgment seat of Christ he wanted the Lord to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Ironside remembered that Mackay explained that just as some men are called to preach, so he was called to fix shoes and that he did his best to honor and glorify God in his work. Years later Ironside would reflect, “It was a lesson I have never been able to forget.”
Often we use this great verse to apply to doctrinal matters relating to the work, worship, and organization of the church. I believe this an accurate application. However, this verse has great implications beyond our collective activities.
This verse says “whatever you do in word or in deed.” Jesus’ authority does not end when we leave the church house. It extends to every aspect of our lives. “Whatever” includes our daily activities. Our jobs. Our recreation. Our relationships. Our homes. Our dress. Our speech.
When we act in someone’s “name” we are serving as a representative of that person. When you serve as a power of authority you are acting in their stead, representing their interests, and carrying out their wishes.
Whatever we say or do we represent Christ to the world. Our actions and attitudes should give him glory, honor, and praise. We demonstrate our respect for Him by accurately exemplifying His person, purity, and purpose with passion to a corrupt culture. When we compromise our mission and ministry, we are not glorifying God.
Too often we make such a distinction between secular and sacred matters, that we forget that our entire lives are given to God as our spiritual service (Rom. 12:1-2). Regardless of your profession, you can honor God through your diligence, honesty, and resourcefulness in your job.
In our homes when husbands and wives follow God’s pattern and obey His marriage laws, we are honoring Him. As we raise our children “in the Lord” we are obeying the principle of this passage.
“Whatever you do” includes facebook posts, text messages, tweets and all other interactions on social media. We each should ask “Are my words, responses, and the pictures I post exalting the Lord to unbelievers?”
“Whatever you do” extends to the books we read, the movies we watch, and the internet sites we visit. Are these activities properly portraying and glorifying Christ?
“Whatever you do in word or deed” is a 24-7 command. There are no exceptions. Exemptions. Or exclusions.
William Barclay’s comment on this verse is well worth our serious reflection. “Since we are united with Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have all the resources we need for holy living. But we must be spiritually motivated. Because we have experienced the grace of Christ, we want to live for Him. Because we have enjoyed the peace of Christ, we want to obey Him. We have been enriched by the Word of Christ, and ennobled by the name of Christ; therefore, we want to honor and glorify Him.”
Can we desire any higher motivation?
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman