A paycheck is a wonderful thing. In fact, in many respects it makes the world go round. Without a regular income life can be very difficult. But for this reason, a paycheck can keep us running with our heads on sideways, holding the ceiling up, while the walls are falling in. However, for the same reason, whether because of a bad boss or a tough work environment, we can also become less than desirable employees, working half-heartedly just to get paid. In the former case, the paycheck makes us a dizzying workaholic; in the latter, the paycheck makes us an indifferent, only-do-the-minimum sloth.
Neither one of these examples reflects the kind of worker a Christian ought to be. Instead of a paycheck, Paul sets our sights on something higher, grander, and eternal as we think about our motivations at work, namely, our inheritance in glory. Paul instructs the slaves in Colossi (the closest thing to employees today in the New Testament) to work heartily, not because they had good masters (or bosses), not because they loved what they did, and certainly not because they could make a lot of money; but rather because they would receive from Jesus a great reward, a heavenly inheritance – not now, but in glory – for their labors.
In point of fact, in the context Paul is not merely holding out the inheritance as a carrot before our face, but he is contrasting the returns of the faithful worker and the wicked worker. While the one who works heartily will receive the inheritance, Paul also warns, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality” (3:25). How that will work out in eternity, whether by damnation or by a loss of rewards in heaven – I don’t really know. But it’s serious warning that I want to heed.
I had a professor in college that used to say, “I work for King Jesus, the University just signs the check.” Do you have the same attitude? Is your paycheck your sole motivation to work hard at work? Or is there something greater, more lasting and eternally significant that fuels you in your work?
In Colossians 3:23-24, Paul reminds us that we have a master in heaven, the Lord Jesus, whom we serve and who will reward us with an inheritance far greater than any paycheck the likes of Bill Gates has ever received. May that motivate and guide us all in working heartily, as for the Lord, not for men.