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.
I’ve got to keep it real. This passage is in the context of addressing slaves in the 1st Century Greco-Roman world. The amazing thing was slaves and masters worshiped in the same churches and shared a religion. The sad thing is that American slave owners abused this passage and others like it to keep African slaves in their place. These instructions were meant to revolutionize the slave-master relationship, leading to freedom and brotherhood. But like most things, if it can be used to oppress other people, we’ll find a way to do it.
That being said, what can we learn from Paul’s instructions in our modern context? I think Paul is teaching us something really valuable. We all have an ingrained desire to make a difference in this world. Believe it or not, God instilled within us a drive to work, to be a part of his creative process in the world, to exercise some amount of control and authority over our surroundings. The very concept of slavery subverts God’s creative intent for humankind. To degrade the Image of God in any of us to to degrade it in all of us.
Character is who we are when we think no one is watching. The truth is, God is always here with us. St. Terese of Lisieux (1873-1897) introduced the world to “The Little Way,” the main premise of which is doing “little things with great love.” Whatever we do – flipping burgers, cleaning toilets, changing diapers, running errands, working the assembly line, performing heart surgery, driving for Uber – becomes a holy vocation if done for the Lord. Jesus himself said, “Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done it for me.”
Ultimately, we are not working to please our boss, the CEO, the shareholders, our teachers or coaches. We work to please the Lord. Our service is to Him, for Him, and in His name. When we do little things with great love, we may not change the world but we will experience a transformation within ourselves. So whatever you do today and this week, do it with all of your heart, full of love and grace.