Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 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.
18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. – Colossians 3:12-25 [ESV]
I used to ask, many years ago, “Do I have to take out the garbage as for the Lord?!?” I was trying to be provocative. I knew the answer: Yes. But I’m not sure I fully understood the implications of that question or its answer. This has to do with more than taking out garbage. In fact it has a lot to do with how we treat one another in our families (husbands, wives, children), our community (servants [read: employees] and masters [read: employers], and our brothers and sisters in Christ. We’re to relate to all of them as a brother or sister in Christ, or one for whom Christ died.
I’ve often said that everyone you meet is one of the two of those: brother or sister in Christ, or one for whom Jesus died, and who he loves. A colleague likes to say that everyone you meet is either a fellow missionary, or a mission field. That’s a challenging statement. It takes it beyond a be-kind-to-everyone kind of life – as good as that might be. A life of kindness toward others is certainly a worthy aspiration for all Jesus followers. But to think of yourself as a missionary and others as either fellow missionaries or mission opportunities: that’s a whole level beyond.
There is much to consider here. For everyone is a fellow missionary or a mission field, we ought to be looking at people quite differently. Is this someone who God has sent to me to help me reach my friend or neighbor with the love of Jesus? Or, is this difficult person someone who needs to be reminded that we’re partners and brothers and sisters in Christ in following/joining Jesus on his mission? Or is this difficult person someone who needs to hear about Jesus from another person – one who has less baggage?
In the meantime the garbage needs to be taken out. Work needs to be done. Lawns need to be mowed. Flower beds need to be weeded – and watered these days! And life itself goes on. Even missionaries need some R&R once in a while. We don’t have to spend every moment of every day on high missionary alert and at spiritual battle stations. But we must never forget that there are opportunities God brings our way for sharing the gospel and challenging the devil’s schemes.
Last time I checked, everything means every thing. So no matter what you are called upon to do today, do it as unto Jesus, in his name, as his ambassador, to his glory, and in his loving grace. For God has an incredible inheritance prepared for us who are his. And if we’re his, we will surely want to serve him well – he who served us perfectly and completely, and saved us.