July 1

JULY 1
by Pastor Jim
(23) Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, (24) knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ.  (24) For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.
Colossians 3:23-25
 
I was standing in line at the mess hall, waiting, along with other inductees, for my dinner meal.  This was basic training, US Army, 1969.  I had been drafted.  The army and I didn’t see eye to eye on much, and neither of us was prepared to back down.  I suppose an attitude change on the part of either of us might have helped, but the army showed no signs of budging, and so … well, you get the picture.
 
I had taken out my pocket New Testament to read and came across the passage above.  I liked that last verse; if God followed through, perhaps a certain second lieutenant would eventually get his comeuppance.  Of course, to get to that last verse, I had to pass through the two before it, and they did give me pause.  The second lieutenant was God’s project, not mine; what I was being told was to tend to my own attitudes and actions because “whatever your task … you are serving the Lord Christ.”
 
This was many years before I started reading stuff from Martin Luther — in particular his views on vocation.  Indeed, Luther points out, all that we do, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, should be done with the sense that — the recognition that — we are doing it for God’s honor and glory.  Our lives should be lived as a constant Thank You note to God for all he has done for us in Christ.  Luther at one point even suggested that the scrub bucket of the common washer woman should be inscribed “Holy to the Lord.”
 
I don’t know what this day holds for you — whether dealing with rambunctious children, completing a tedious online task with a looming deadline, or simply confined to quarters with your spouse when both of you are starting to climb the walls.  I do know that reflecting upon what Paul wrote in the above verse did help recalibrate my attitudinal compass not only for the remaining weeks of basic training but also for the 14 1/2 months in Viet Nam that followed.
 
“Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men” because, indeed, in all that you do “you are serving the Lord Christ.”  Even the tedious stuff.  Even when harassed by a pesky second lieutenant or an officious supervisor; it is not them that you are serving but God.  Indeed, how you carry out your “vocation” (the word literally means “calling”) becomes part of not only your Thank You to God but also your witness to others.  Clearly, Paul’s life was one that displayed both.
 

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