Colossians 3:17, 23-24
17 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.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
We all have difficulties in this life, there is no denying that. Jesus himself said that we would have trouble. It might be family trouble like strife in the home. Or maybe it is trouble at work – the boss is demanding and unfair. It could even be relational trouble such as enduring the garbage people are saying about you. These troubles cause us pain and that pain searches us looking for a response. It’s like when you put your hand on a hot fireplace, the pain tells you to take your hand off. It also tells some of us to scream like crazy. Regardless of what the response is, the pain elicits one. So this pain of hardship elicits a response in us as well. I believe when you boil it all down, there are three general responses to hard circumstances.
The first response is what some might call the most honest response. I will rename it the first of two ungodly responses. It is what I call the complainer. The complainer response is one in which the person makes sure that everyone else in the world knows how horrible the situation is. It involves a range of emotions from sulking and crying, whining, and anger and yelling. This essentially, is how a 3 year old handles things that he feels to be unfair. When you spend time with this person, they are often very vocal about all the bad things that happen in their world. Essentially, they become “problem focused.” That is, their focus remains on the problems with their world rather than the good in it. This becomes a trap for some and they become what we call a negative person.
The second ungodly response to hardship is what I call “grin and bear it.” This approach seems like the nice and peaceful things to do. It seems like the response that a good Christian should have. But this response is actually not a biblical one. We turn the other cheek and pretend that we are happy about it. But we aren’t. So this response is fake. It is using our willpower to mask our true feelings. Now don’t get me wrong, self-control is a good thing. We ought to hold our tongue when we are frustrated and angry. We should withhold our rantings when we realize that they won’t build anybody up. The problem is that this response is only an external one. It doesn’t address any of our inward thoughts and feelings. It is better than the complainer response (at least in the sense of courtesy), but it certainly isn’t the best.
Which brings me to the third response, the only one that is truly biblical. It is the God-focused response. It is here that internal change happens; this is where transformation occurs. In Colossians 3, Paul writes about working as if you were working for the Lord. How do you do that? First, we ought to be reminded that we were, by nature, objects of the wrath of God. Jesus stepped in and became that object for us. We have no problem looking to Jesus to be that object, because we understand our need for Him in this place of standing with God. In the same way, Jesus ought to become the object of our motivation. We should be doing things for Him. We should be striving to live for Him. With this attitude in mind, I can work for a dictator and have the attitude that the work I do is for my Lord. The person who I strive to please is, above all, Jesus. My life is tied up in His and I aim all my affections toward Him.
But we should not only go as far as to “work” unto the Lord. Verse 17 says that we should do everything in the “name” of the Lord. This takes it to a whole nutha level. When I yell at my coworker, am I doing it in the name of the Lord? When I complain about my husband, am I doing it in the name of the Lord? This thought cuts to the quick. It freaks me out really. I begin to think about my own actions and words, and wonder how I have represented the name of Jesus. Forgive me today, Lord, where I have not. Transform my mind and actions so that I can be a person who does everything in the name of my Lord Jesus.