Colossians 3:17 is one of the key verses in the New Testament. Paul says, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
We can get vague and abstract about what it means to live in the name of Jesus, so Paul moves directly on from this pivotal verse to talk about three of the most common and important areas of life: marriage, parenting and work.
Join us Sunday as we learn practical ways to do marriage, parenting and work in the name of Jesus, the way he would do it if he was in our place.Read More
Full Sermon Script
Colossians 3:17 is one of the key verses in the New Testament. Paul says:
Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. Do it in the way Jesus would if he was in your place.
Now, it’s possible for us to get vague and abstract about what it means to live in the name of Jesus. So Paul moves directly on from this pivotal verse to talk about three of the most common and important areas of life – marriage, parenting and work – how we relate in those key areas. 
I decided to record this message from my home today, because this is where I’ve been doing marriage, and parenting and work for the last several months. 
You see, Paul is moving ordinary relationships, these ordinary ways of living, into the realm of living “in the name of Jesus.” >>>>>
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
> If you think about it, society – human well-being – is built to a large extent on families and work. 
I want you to imagine something.
*Imagine a society where families work right. Where husbands and wives love and cherish one another. Where they seek to enjoy one another and they honor the commitment they make when they get married – where that promise becomes important. They don’t violate their promise to each other – no affairs, no betrayals. Imagine a world where there was no pain of affairs or betrayals, no resentment from that sort of thing. They seek to communicate with each other honestly and in a loving way with grace and truth.
*Imagine a world where the parent-child relationship works right. Where children respect and admire and honor their fathers and mothers; and where parents are patient and loving and wise in raising and shaping their kids.
*Imagine a society where workers are committed to their tasks. They work with diligence and creativity and perseverance. And employers are devoted to those who work for them. They work to help people realize their full potential. They appreciate the unique gifts of every individual and treat them with respect and fairness.
Imagine that kind of world. 
Well, I believe this is what’s at stake in what we’re looking at today. This is Paul’s vision. Followers of Christ, he said – and he’s very concrete about this – ought to do marriage, and family, and work in Jesus’ name. So we’re going to look at this. 
One real quick note before we do. And this has to do with how we interpret Scripture.
This passage talks about slavery, how slaves relate to their masters. I want to mention this because for a long time through the 1800s, a little more than a hundred years ago, people said the Bible could be used to defend slavery. They would say, “It’s right there; Paul says, ‘Slaves, obey your masters,’ so slavery is right.”
This is an important principle – just because the writers of Scripture address people in a certain social institution, it doesn’t mean that that particular institution or arrangement is the best reflection of God’s will for human beings.
For instance, when the Bible was written, monarchy was the governmental arrangement – a totalitarian government. That doesn’t mean that totalitarian governments are God’s will for human beings. We understand, as we look at the whole of Scripture, that there are societies where there is freedom. And more likely that reflects the will of God – that people have freedom. 
In Paul’s day, the church was in no position to overthrow slavery. So Paul’s concern was, how do you live as a follower of Jesus in a society where slavery is just a given? Even though it’s obvious that slavery is not compatible with God’s ultimate will for human beings. “In Christ, there is nether slave nor free” Paul said. We are all God’s people – chosen, Holy, and dearly loved. 
Similarly, in Paul’s day, husbands had almost absolute power over their wives. A wife was seen as a possession, a lot like furniture. A husband could divorce his wife for virtually any reason. “He could divorce her for burning food,” one of the rabbis said, but a wife had virtually no power to divorce her husband. 
Now, Paul’s not calling for an overthrow of such systems as these, but he doesn’t mean that a system like slavery or patriarchy reflects God’s ultimate desire for human beings. I hope you get that. 
Okay, so I want to say a brief word or two about marriage, and then about parenting, and then we’ll move on to what it means to work in Jesus’ name.
First of all, marriage. Paul says, “Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, and that includes your marriage.” >>>>>
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
> The question I’d like to pose for those of us who are married is this:
If I were doing my marriage in Jesus’ name, as realistic as that can be, given who I’m married to and how they’re not perfect and I’m not perfect – if I were doing my marriage in Jesus’ name, if I took that seriously – what’s one thing I would change? How would you answer that question? What’s one thing I would change? 
Now, when Paul addresses married people, he generally comes back to the issue of servanthood. Husbands, love your wives. Never treat them harshly. Wives, submit to your husbands. 
In Ephesians 5, Paul describes what a husband’s love should look like – he says it should look like the love Christ had for the church. >>>>>
He says: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
> It’s a love of sacrifice and servanthood. That’s what love in a marriage in Jesus’ name looks like. Marriage outside of that generally looks like – “how can I get what I want from this other person?”
When our three kids were younger, my wife Kathy was home full-time with them, and I was at work full-time. When we would come together at the end of the day, we would generally ask the question, “How did your day go?” and then there would be a description.
But underneath whatever words we used was a kind of subtext that went, “My day was harder than your day, so you really ought to take care of me.” Kathy would ask me about lunch, and I would say, “Oh, I had lunch with someone from our church.” She would say, “You mean you ate a restaurant with an adult? You didn’t have to cut his food? You had conversation with verbs and everything?”
Then I’d ask her, “What did you do for lunch?” “Well, I took the kids to the park.” “You mean you got to go to the park with the kids and have a picnic and play games, and just hang out?”
There was this kind of subtext of always angling or positioning division of labor kind of issues. How can I get you to serve me?  Are we the only couple who’ve done that sort of thing? 
Then contrast that with a couple weeks ago. We had just been through a pretty intense couple of days. And so I was saying to Kathy, because there were several tasks that needed to get done, I was saying, “I’ll make you a deal. I will help you with this task if, then after that, I can have this time to be by myself.”
Kathy just cut me off and she said, “That’s OK. I’ll take care of this work. Go do what you want to do.” She just chose to serve. 
Well, when I see that it makes me think, “I want to serve her like that.”
Servanthood, when it’s offered – not in every case, but generally when it’s offered – causes you to want to serve the other person. It’s mutually escalating. When you start thinking, “How can I angle to get more of what I want out of the other person,” that tends to be destructive. 
So the question on the marriage thing that I’d like to ask is, if you’re married, “How are you doing at serving your spouse?”
Are you constantly measuring who’s done the most work or are you becoming freer in serving your spouse? 
One other question here for those of you who are NOT married – it may be that you’re dating or you’re open to the possibility of getting married – are you doing that in Jesus’ name?
Are you saying, “I want to date in a way that honors Jesus. I want to date in a way that honors his teaching; for instance, that sexual intimacy is reserved for a marriage commitment.” 
So if you’re dating, are you dating in Jesus’ name? If you’re married, are you doing your marriage in Jesus name?  Think about that and I’ll be right back.
Then he moves on to the parent/child relationship. And I’m in my oldest daughter, Lily’s room. She’s going to be a freshman at Foothill high school this year. 
This is what Paul writes:
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
> He’s moving this relationship into the sphere of our spiritual life – “for this pleases the Lord.” >>>>>
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
> Paul is saying to parents – it’s real easy to respond to your kids in a way that causes them to lose heart; and children it’s easy to be disobedient when relating to your parents.
So the question here is, if you’re the parent – what am I doing that causes my child to lose heart, to become discouraged? 
Or if you’re the child – what am I doing that’s interpreted by my parents as disobedience? 
I was talking to a mother of four about the challenge of parenting. She said, “We had four children. I remember how, but I don’t remember why.” 
In the midst of the pressure of parenting, it becomes real possible to respond to my kids, Paul says, in a way that causes my children to lose heart. So again, question here – what might I be doing that causes my child or children to lose heart, to become discouraged? 
*Nagging can be one.
*Belittling their efforts.
*Inappropriate kinds of teasing.
*Comparing them to siblings or other children.
*Failing to provide boundaries.
*Failing to provide discipline. Because then what happens is when they go out and hit reality, they’re not going to be prepared.
*Unrealistic expectations maybe. 
Paul says, parent in such a way, make it your goal that your children don’t lose heart, become dispirited, or broken, or fragile. The goal is to build large-hearted, courageous, servant-minded human beings. Parent in that way. 
I’ll mention one real specific application point here before we move on to work. If you’re parenting, make a commitment that you’re going to devote adequate time to the task of parenting; that whatever regrets you might have, when you come to the end of your life, make a commitment and say, “Parenting is not going to be one. I’m going to devote adequate time. It’s going to be the best I’ve got.” 
This is a crucial time in our day. I was reading recently about university cafeteria designs. This is a very interesting thing. Universities in our country have to change the way students eat in their university settings.
When I was in college, we got whatever mystery meat they were serving for the day and we had to wait in a line at a certain time to get it. More current designs are like restaurants with a variety of foods that students can eat at any time of the day.
The reason why is students don’t grow up eating home-cooked meals anymore. Mom and Dad both work, and if they’re all going to eat together, it’s usually with someone calling and saying, “Hey, what do you want me to pick up tonight?”
Kids just grow up in our society eating in front of the television or in their bedroom, or grabbing something on their way to their sport or activity. 
But for a long time, for many centuries, a family gathered around the table. That’s where people connected. That’s where they learned to share, where they learned to communicate. That’s where people learned to fight.
I imagine many of you learned the rules of fighting around the table. It’s kind of funny, but it’s really quite a serious deal. That’s where parents would say things like the “one more word” rule. “One more word out of you” and then you would learn. There’s a boundary right there. 
A friend of mine was telling me about a teacher who asked the kids in the class – 26 kids in the class – how many of you have your own place around the table? Out of 26 kids, 20 did not have their own place around the table which, my friend was saying, means they don’t even eat dinner once a week together. If people do something once a week, they’ll gravitate towards a place. 
Are you devoting adequate time? That’s just one specific application. Take this one either way, this relationship. If you have children, are you handling that relationship as best as you know how in the Lord?
If not, then ask the question, how would I handle the parent-child relationship differently if I was doing it the way Jesus would do it in my place, if I was parenting in his name?
Or, if you’re the child, how would you treat your parents differently if you were relating to them in Jesus’ name?
Again, you have to be realistic about this. There may be issues with your parents or with your children that are not easily resolvable. But it may be that there’s a step that you would take – an act of service, an expression of love, a note, a phone call.
When Paul says, “Do everything in Jesus’ name,” he gets real concrete with it. How are you doing? What do you need to do differently? Think about that and I’ll be right back.
Now we’re going to spend the rest of our time together talking about what it means to work in Jesus’ name. 
This is my office, where I spend a lot of time during the day. 
Now, in this passage Paul is specifically addressing the relationship between slaves and masters because, in those days, that was the most common work relationship. There were not large corporations and so on. That would look different, obviously, if it was framed in our day. >>>>>
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
> Here’s where some of us need to do some serious soul-searching because people who work in Jesus’ name ought to be fundamentally distinct.
Paul says do your work with sincerity of heart and with reverence for Christ, and not just some of the time, not just when you’re being watched, and not just when there’s something in it for you. 
So I want to ask us to do a real honest self-exam here about our work, whatever sphere we work in.
The question is – How do I work? Am I working wholeheartedly, or am I working just to get by with minimal effort?
Paul says we’re to be the kind of employees Jesus would be if he was in our place. 
And Jesus knew all about work. He was a carpenter for a long time. How do you think he did his work? I bet he brought the same kind of diligence and wholeheartedness to his work as a carpenter as he did to his work as a teacher and healer.
So can we just covenant together as a church that we’re going to be the kind of people who bring a wholehearted passion to our work in a way that makes our company, or department, or team different. This is working in Jesus’ name. 
>>>>> Now look at verse 23.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
> What kind of work is he referring to? “Whatever you do.” It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be paid for it.
For example, is a parent who stays home full-time to care for small children and manage a household still doing work? In a biblical sense, yes.
Our society gets a little confused on this one. Tony Campolo said when his wife was home full-time with the kids, sometimes she would be asked, “What do you do?” as a kind of a put-down. >>>>>
This was her response:
“I’m socializing two homo sapiens in the dominant values of the Judeo-Christian tradition so they can become agents for the transformation of the social order into the kind of eschatological utopia God had in mind from the beginning of time.” 
> Then she’d ask, “And what is it that you do?”
Whatever you do, Paul says. There may be a paycheck associated with it, maybe not. Tasks that you do at home, tasks that you do for a corporation – Paul is very comprehensive here. So we need to think real broadly about work. This affects every one of us. 
*Students at school – learning is part of your work, part of “whatever you do.”
*Volunteering. Whatever you do. This is not just for people that draw paychecks. 
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,”
I think Paul is very serious about his language here. He’s not casual when he says this sort of thing. 
So I want us to reflect on our work this past week. If Jesus was your direct supervisor, would you have done your work any differently than you did? 
*If you’re in contracting, how would you have done repairs if you were doing repair work on Jesus’ house? Especially knowing he was a carpenter – so he knows what kind of work could be done.
*How would you answer phones, or type documents, or teach classes if you knew that Jesus was going to check your work? 
You see, we work for Jesus, fundamentally. That’s the person I work for. I’m teaching right now for Jesus. He’s my boss. So I want to work in such a way that when Jesus looks at my work, it meets with his approval. 
This leads to questions like:
*Am I working with integrity?
*Do I ever use expense accounts for personal stuff?
*During the time I’m supposed to be at work, am I giving my time with diligence?
Whether you have a boss that you love or you have a boss that’s very difficult, remember that you work for God. 
If you have problems with the person that you work for, don’t think you’re getting them back by doing less than your best at work. Paul says you don’t work for your master or your CEO or your supervisor. You work for God.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,” 
>>>>> Now verse 24:
since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
> If we were to ask the average person on the street, “What’s the number one reason you work at your job?” What do you think the answer would be? Probably money right?
Here’s the deal. If my focus is simply on what I get in money, I will come to resent work, and I’ll fundamentally misunderstand it. This is a widespread attitude in our day where the focus is just on what can I get for my work.
We have this illusion that what we get is what’s going to make us happy. 
Lottery winners, generally, will all make the same comment after they hit it big. They’ll say, “It’s not going to change my life.” Six months later, they quit their job, they have a new house and a new car. 
One guy called his wife. He said, “I won the Lottery. Start packing.”
She said, “Wow, That’s great! Warm weather or cold weather?”
He said, “I don’t care as long as you’re gone when I get home.” 
They did a survey of lottery winners in New York – found two things:
One thing was that the majority of people who won the big lottery said that they weren’t happier now than they were before winning.
The second thing they found was these people wouldn’t give the money back even though they weren’t happier. Some of them even said they were less happy with the money, but they wouldn’t give it back.
People whose primary motivation for work is money will always feel resentful, and restless, and dissatisfied, and discontent. 
Now, this is a very interesting phrase Paul uses, this idea that: “you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.”
By Roman law in Paul’s day – Paul wrote to a city that was under Roman law – by Roman law, guess how much wealth slaves were allowed to inherit? Nothing.
Slaves were not allowed by law to inherit. If a slave somehow came into any possession, they could not pass those on to the next generation.
Inheritance was for the wealthy, and the free, and the powerful, not for slaves. 
This really is a very beautiful expression that Paul is making to the church.
Paul says, “Listen, friends, you have an inheritance waiting for you.”
You think Bill Gates’ kids are in for a big-time inheritance, just wait. “You will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” 
In this life, reward for our work is not fair. That’s part of what Paul is saying in verse 25: >>>>>
Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
> There’s going to be justice one day because there isn’t in this life.
There may be a lot of us who work in a workplace and we get discouraged because it’s unfair, because there’s office politics, or bias or prejudice, that determines who gets what, and who climbs to what level, or there’s favoritism about who gets promoted, who gets noticed.
Paul is saying, try not to get discouraged, because the day is coming when God will look at the work of his faithful servants and God will say, “Well done,” and there will be a reward. 
Employees who faithfully give themselves diligently to work that never earns much human recognition or large salaries or corner offices – these people sometimes wonder, “Is it worth it? I know I could have more success. I could climb higher if I just cut some corners, or manipulate people who work for me, use fear and intimidation with them like others in the world do, neglect my family, become a workaholic. Is it really worth the sacrifice of being a person of integrity when it seems like I just get penalized for it?”
Paul says, “It’s worth it because someone is watching. Someone is keeping track. It’s worth it.” 
Someday, you’re going to hear, “Well done.”
God is going to say, “Well done. I’m proud of you. Now step into your eternal reward. Step into the life where your work will be fulfilled. No more frustration. No more wasted effort.” 
Paul says do life in Jesus’ name.
And get real concrete about it:
*for when you love your spouse in the Lord
*when you honor your parents and raise your children in the Lord
*when you work at the tasks in your career, around your home, in your volunteering and so on, when you do that work in the Lord, you’re doing the work of the kingdom. 
Alright, let’s pray as Michaela comes to lead us in a closing song.
Blue Oaks Church