A couple weeks ago, I began a four-part Saturday series on "Why Excel?" The key question for this series is not "Should we pursue excellence?" but rather "Why do you pursue excellence?" I referenced Colossians 3:22-24:
"Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."I listed three main ideas from this passage:
- Always pursue excellence because God is always watching.
- Never pursue excellence because other people may be watching.
- The excellence of your work will impact your inheritance in heaven.
Always pursue excellence because God is always watching.
God sees everything. Now that's a strange thought.
Right now, I can see about seven feet in front of me, three feet to my left, ten feet to my right, and -- because I am not a mother or a teacher -- zero feet behind me. My view is limited. In fact, though there are dozens of people here in the church building with me right now, I can't see any of them.
Meanwhile, God sees me and everybody else at the same time.
What's more, God truly "sees." He doesn't just see in the visual sense. He sees in an all-knowing way. He sees my thoughts as well as my body. He knows my motives as well as my actions.
God watches. He isn't just seeing me like I view a movie: laughing, crying, and then walking away. He evaluates what he sees. He evaluates what I do and what I think. He isn't ambivalent. He cares about my life and my heart.
The question, then, is this: do I care that he cares?
I think this gets at the heart of "fearing the Lord." Do you care that God is watching you and evaluating you? Do you desire to please him? Do your thoughts and actions change as a result?
Let me take a quick sidestep for a moment to remind you that -- if you believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins -- there need be no thought of wrath associated with "fearing the Lord." Jesus paid our penalty in full.
The fear that is ours as followers of Jesus is an awe at God's multifaceted perfections. In sending Jesus Christ for our sins, he fully demonstrated his justice, his mercy, his love, his wrath, his faithfulness, all at the same time. The appropriate response is zeal to not displease him, for he has loved us so fully and extravagantly through the cross.
Do you have that zeal? Do you have a passion for God's glory through every moment and thought?
Not sure? Here are some signs of fearing God in service:
- The person who truly fears God will "obey in everything." You will see marked excellence throughout their lives.
- The person who truly fears God will serve with "sincerity of heart." You will see honest joy as they serve.
- The person who truly fears God will "work heartily." Even if perfection is not within their grasp, they will give their full abilities to their tasks.
Remember, "you are serving the Lord Christ," who sees and cares.
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