Colossians 3:17: Whatever You Do . . . .

February 27, 2015

A few years ago, my plans changed at the last minute, preventing me from accompanying my husband to Yosemite National Park for the annual Spring Forum. My ticket was prepaid, and I had registered for some interesting seminars. So rather than let all that go to waste, Andy decided to invite his friend Ron to accompany him for the long day-trip. Upon arrival, Ron claimed my nametag, but whited out the tail on the Y to make the nametag say “Marv Naegeli.” For the day, “Marv” lived in my name. I told him before they left, “Make me proud. Don’t embarrass me.”

This idea of doing something in another person’s name is legalized with a “Durable Power of Attorney.” When one has DPA for another, one feels very responsible to carry out the wishes (if known) of the person who signed the document.

So does it surprise you to know that God has given each one of us his “durable power of attorney” to act in a manner and with the same authority that he himself possesses? This DPA was first issued back in the Garden, when God told Adam and Eve to steward and tend the earth. Creation has always belonged to God, but he commissioned human beings to take responsibility for its care and feeding.

All along, our task has been to ask, “What would God do in this situation if he were in my shoes?” This focus is embedded in the Judeo-Christian psyche, to act on God’s behalf according to God’s purposes, for the glory of the One who made us and for the good of the creation we are stewarding.

The Apostle Paul concludes this first round of positive exhortations in Colossians 3 with a reference to this stewardship mindset:

17And whatever you do, in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.

What a blanket statement! Paul is saying, whatever activity you are engaged in or whatever you are saying, conduct it “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” This instruction can be understood two ways, firstly, “representing Jesus,” and secondly, “with the power and authority of Jesus.”

As an ambassador for Christ, Paul was well aware that he was representing Jesus Christ to those who were just being introduced to the Savior as well as to established believers (2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20). It didn’t matter what the particular activity was, but Paul aspired to do it representing the goodness, life, power, love and message of the One who had transformed his own life. He is telling us in this verse that we are to do the same.

Further, whatever we do, we can (and should) do it in the power of Jesus Christ. We can expect Christ’s power only for those activities and words that are in the Lord’s service, consistent with his values, demonstrative of his nature, and aligned with his purposes. When we do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, we are inviting the helpful scrutiny of the Holy Spirit to stay on the straight and narrow. Rather than feel threatened by God’s interest in what we are doing, we are reminded to give thanks to God, our heavenly Father, who loves us so much as to entrust us with important decisions. The least we can do is honor him and act in a way that would help others recognize God at work through us.

There is another “whatever you do” passage coming up, so I will save the rest for later. In the meantime, though, Paul is elevating all normal activity to the possibility of divine ambassadorship. Food for thought, don’t you think?



3 Responses to “Colossians 3:17: Whatever You Do . . . .”

  1. emd5542 Says:

    This message is not only fitting for our respective walks with the Lord but especially so during this season of Lent. May all who read it embrace it and live it. Thanks be to God

  2. Bruce Pope Says:

    I loved your ‘food for thought” this morning and was pleasantly reminded of one of the most haunting poems I’ve ever read or pondered on… Bruce Part of Eve’s Discussion by Marie Howe It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand, and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop, very much like the moment, driving on bad ice, when it occurs to you your car could spin, just before it slowly begins to spin, like the moment just before you forgot what it was you were about to say, it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only all the time.

  3. Jodie Gallo Says:

    This is an interesting observation that I think comes with a measured dose of power. My sense is that this “power of attorney” is proportionally revocable.

    I think the Holy Spirit empowers and also dis-empowers the Church in the measure that it lives in to Its dreams and expectations. I don’t think Paul had witnessed yet the dis-empowering phenomena (except maybe in himself and his conversion experience). But we have been living in such a period in America over the last 50 plus years, and finger pointing and splits and consolidations haven’t reversed the trend. Folks have spent their entire careers living in the this period, and neither activism nor fatalistic apathy seems to have had any effect.

    Yet somehow I sense that sitting with Paul for a while opens the door. In the truest sense of the word, he is “otherworldly”. But its kinda like therapists who report on couples who come to them for marriage therapy. They have to get past the point where they think they are there for the therapist to fix their partner before they can even begin.

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