Colossians 3:17,23-24 (NIV)

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 human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.


As I read through this text today it struck me as odd that Paul would say the same thing in verses 17 and 23-24, so I have stopped to review these verses and see what it is I might be missing.

Colossians 3 starts with, “Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (v 1-2). The word “since” here is being used as a conjunction between Colossians 3:1 and the preceding text. Therefore, let’s take a look at the preceding text.

In Colossians 2 Paul is telling the people of Colossus that they no longer have to follow Jewish traditions such as circumcision, special days, and mandates regarding what to eat or drink because Christ has freed them from these laws that only have an appearance of wisdom and cannot grant any eternal freedom. Furthermore, they need to be alert to anyone who would try and teach this doctrine as if it were true. They now have freedom in Christ.

Having established that there is freedom in Christ, Paul exhorts the Colossians to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2 NIV). I expect anyone suddenly freed from any matter of prison might run amok thinking they can do whatever they want to do. There are all sorts of manners of “captivity” that we go through in our lives. From childhood into our teenage years, most people are in a state of following the laws laid down by their parents or guardians. Hence, the expressions of “freedom” we see when people leave home to go to college or other pursuits.

When I entered the military, shortly after graduating from High School, I remember feeling like I had jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Basic training was just that bad. After Basic, the USAF had a “phase” system in place at my technical school. The military had realized that people “freed” from captivity behaved in out sorts of outlandish ways and need to gradually be “phased” back into mainstream living.

I believe that there’s more to this freedom in Christ than not having to adhere to Old Testament Jewish law. Whether or not one was a Jew who was now a Christian, they, the Colossians, as we once did, lived under the bondage of death. “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we shall die” is a sentiment that comes to mind in the face of death (Isaiah 22:13). However, for those who are alive in Christ, and have been raised to live with Christ, that’s you and me, Believer, we need to change our way of thinking.

To one degree or another, every one of us was in the World and behaved as “worldly” people before we gave our lives to Christ. Hence, the beginning statement of Colossians 3. Now we can see how Colossians 3:17 is set up. Paul reminds the people of Colossus, and subsequently, us, how we once lived before coming to Jesus. As liars, adulterers, murderers, full of anger, rage, malice, spewing obscenities and giving into all manners of lust and sexual immoralities. We once saw everyone with the labels that the world had placed on them. Now, however, as Children of God, saved by the grace of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we “must clothe [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. [Bearing] with each other and [forgiving] one another…as the Lord forgave [us]” (Colossians 3:12-13 NIV). We are to do everything in love that will bring us together in perfect peace for we were called by God, as one body of Christ, to live in peace. Therefore, we need to allow the peace of God to be dominant in our hearts (Colossians 3:14-15 NIV).

Finally, with the peace of God ruling in our hearts we are to ruminate on “the message of Christ” as we share it “through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in [our] hearts” (Colossians 3:16 NIV). Now, I think I have a much better grasp of Colossians 3:17.

As I examine Colossians 3:23-34, I can see that Paul goes from speaking to the people of Colossus, in general, to the specific roles of husband, wife, children, father, and servants (household) and we can see that, this, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving,” is directed at the servants. When we get to Colossians 4, we can see evidence that this is the case because Paul is now telling Masters how to behave toward their servants. “Masters, practice equality and justice with your Servants and be aware that you also have a Master in Heaven” (Aramaic Bible).

Having examined these two passages and their context I think it’s a good idea for us, as Christians, today, to put both of them into practice for whatever we do, when we do it with gladness in our hearts, it will make our day and those around us, a brighter one.

Do you know God? He loves you. He wants you to know Him. He already knows you and He would rather die than not have you in His family. Jesus died for your sins and mine so that we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him.

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.