Ephesians Day 29: Wholehearted Living.
“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” (6:7-8)
It’s hard to be a Christian in the workplace, especially in a demoralised one. It’s hard to deal with your frustrations and have the integrity to be real, knowing all the while that non-believers are watching you and judging how well your actions stack up against your beliefs.
The hardest thing of all is to keep working hard even when not rewarded or recognised. If you’re not rewarded for doing more than the basics, why bother? Why put in the extra effort when you can just cruise along?
This is where Paul’s counter-cultural message from Ephesians comes in. He tells slaves to work hard whatever the circumstances – whether their masters are good or bad, whether they are supervised or neglected. He tells them to do ‘the will of God from your heart’ (v. 6) and to ‘serve wholeheartedly’ (v. 7). This is a matter of the heart, not of the mind. We can always find ways to rationalise minimal effort or subversion, so it’s up to our hearts to keep us on track with the right attitude and motivation.
Yes Paul was talking to slaves here, but the message is easily transferable to employees in the twenty-first century. Just like first-century slaves, office workers today can slack when not being watched closely, and they can put in sub-par performance when they’re demoralised or treated badly. These verses are for us, an ancient calling that resonates in a modern context. We are to live wholeheartedly.
Work wholeheartedly in our day jobs, serve wholeheartedly in our churches, love wholeheartedly in our marriages, parenting, friendships and neighbourhoods. That’s what we’re called to do. And it’s all out of obedience to, and reverence for, Jesus. We’re not trying to earn God’s love through obedience – we already have it. Instead, because we have God’s love, we work hard to glorify Him and show others what following Jesus really looks like.
But don’t confuse whole-heartedness with frenzy. It’s ok to rest, to say no sometimes and to set healthy boundaries for our commitments. But whatever we do, let’s do it wholeheartedly. As Paul says elsewhere, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do [insert your own thing here], do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31).
To take away: Where are you being half-hearted where you could be whole-hearted? Listen to the Lord and let Him challenge you on where you could serve Him better.
This is the 29th post in a 31-day walk through Ephesians. I’d love for you to join me in exploring this amazing book of the Bible for the rest of the month of May. Every day you’ll find a new post with fresh encouragement from God’s word. I hope this series blesses you, and if it does, please share it with others. Thank you.