Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heartily, as to the Lord

Have you ever stepped into clear stream or creek, thinking to wade in, only to find it deeper than it appeared?  That is what happened with this week’s Bible Study.  I thought I would just get my feet wet, but before I knew it, I found myself waist-high in the cool, refreshing Word of God.  I hope you are as inspired by it as I am.

Colossians 3:23 – And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men

When this verse first came to me in support of My One Word – FINISH, the rationale was “God is not glorified in unfinished tasks.”  If my goal is to please man, well, I might fudge a little or cut corners.  But never in a task dedicated to God. My goal became to dedicate all my tasks to the Lord.  This would lead me to FINISH them, bringing him glory. (As I type this I think of how I patted myself on the back about FINISHING my tasks Monday, and I realize that I kinda hogged all the glory. Conviction, just like a ton o’ bricks. Ouch.)

When reading this verse, I have always focused on the phrase “to the Lord,” and comforted myself with the idea that I am laying up treasures in Heaven when I do all my unpleasant tasks willingly (without complaint) and dedicate them to God. Today, I find from my study of this verse, while my traditional position is fair and accurate, as far as it goes, it stops short the true goal.

Instead of focusing on “to the Lord,” let’s focus on “heartily.” John Wesley defines “heartily” as “cheerfully, diligently.” I don’t always agree with Wesley, so let’s put him to the test. 

*Heartily –
            1. in a hearty manner
            2. with all sincerity: wholeheartedly: with zest or gusto
            3. wholly: thoroughly

 Now let’s compare…

*Cheerful –
1.  Full of good spirits: merry…ungrudging
2.  Conducive to cheer: likely to dispel gloom or worry

*Diligent –
characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort:  painstaking

Okay, in my opinion, Mr. Wesley did pretty good with this one.

Have you ever considered a task with the mindset of, "I'll do it, but I won't like it!" This is the “willingly=without complaint” attitude.  One thing I know about God is that he won’t make me do anything.  My willingness is key. 

It is key, but it is not truly enough.  If I want to squeeze out the maximum available blessing from serving God, I must serve willingly, merrily, and earnestly: in a word “heartily.” I have to do it...and like it. : )

I want to close this study with one last nugget of wisdom from the Esteemed Mr. Wesley, on being “single-hearted” in dedicating our work, all our work, to God:

“Menpleasers are soon dejected and made angry: the single-hearted are never displeased or disappointed; because they have another aim, which the good or evil treatment of those they serve cannot disappoint.”

People may not notice what we do.  They might notice and belittle us...even when we work cheerfully and diligently.  But God, knowing our hearts, will always notice and be well-pleased with our efforts.

*From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (1998)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrea! I love your home over here.

    Great words to garner from a strong Bible verse. I so agree about doing tasks willingly, if not joyfully. I really don't think God wants a grudging doer any more than He wants a grudging giver.

    But really, it's so much easier said than done. I'm with you on the pat on the back when I actually finish something I hadn't looked forward to. I should be rejoicing because God never gave up on me to finish his appointed task.

    Great Bible study. Thanks for sharing!