Do as unto the Lord. A phrase that is often times heard within church circles giving both instruction and encouragement to fellow Christians, but I wonder how many of us really know or have any idea of what that means. For that matter, how many of us can actually say we’re doing that?
For the past several weeks I’ve found myself doing something I don’t like or enjoy doing, and the question that has been asked of me, and that I have even asked of myself on multiple occasions, is this, am I doing it as unto the Lord? Each time the question has been asked I have answered it in the positive, but this past week I have found myself really pondering the phrase and asking the Lord what does it mean exactly. Now, what I’ve been doing isn’t something that I’ve been forced into, but it is something I’ve been willing to do on a very temporary basis, which raises the question all the more. So, with that I have really been seeking to know exactly what that means and to see if I can, in clear conscience, say I have been doing that.
Where does the phrase “do as unto the Lord” come from? We get this from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Colossians (Colossians 3:23). We live in a society that has the mindset it can decide when and how we ought to “do as unto the Lord”, but right off the bat the Apostle Paul tells us it should be in whatever we do. Some people try to find ways to justify or rationalize why they don’t have to do so, or even to find “loopholes” that give them an excuse to do otherwise, but Paul makes it clear it should be in whatever we do. Have you ever heard someone ask the question, “what part of ‘no’ do you not understand”, or something very similar? In much the same way, when people attempt to justify or find excuses to not do things as unto the Lord in a situation I find myself asking the following question, “what part of ‘whatever’ do you not understand”? It doesn’t matter what we are doing, where we are at or even who we are with, but it is important for us to do everything as unto the Lord.
So, what does it mean for us to do whatever we do as unto the Lord? Are there indicators to help us know whether or not we are doing things as unto the Lord? As I’ve pondered things the past week or so a number of things have come to mind as indicators for us to pay attention to, and I encourage you to evaluate all the areas of your life as we go through some of the indicators I will address.
The first indicator of whether or not we are doing things as unto the Lord is found in the same verse. Paul tells us to do things as unto the Lord and not unto men. If we are doing things to gain the approval or acceptance of others then we are not doing them unto the Lord. If we are more concerned about what they think or what they may do than we are of the Lord, then that is an indicator we are not doing things as unto the Lord. Our motivation and attitudes in what we are doing are reflections of where our heart is and whether or not we are doing them as unto the Lord.
Another indicator of whether or not we are doing things as unto the Lord is in the area of integrity. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, we are told that we are ambassadors of Christ and as such we represent Him to those around us. As ambassadors of Christ it is vital that we do things with integrity as that is the heart of God and accurately represents the God we serve. Many times over the years, and especially lately, I have been tempted to cut corners in what I’m doing. Sometimes it involved doing things just enough to say I did it, or to cut corners instead of doing things right and properly, or even to report I did something I know I didn’t do. The few times I did give in to such temptations it was quickly followed by conviction when the Spirit of God would tell me it was dishonoring to Him and that it was wrong and dishonest, and in those instances I’ve had to go back and correct those things, and when necessary confess and apologize to the powers that be. If we are not doing things with integrity the conclusion is simple, we are not doing them as unto the Lord but instead unto ourselves or others. To do things as unto the Lord requires that we do them with integrity no matter the cost. As someone who trained professional bus drivers, one thing I would stress to them is that a mark of someone being professional was that they did things right, proper and safe, no matter how inconvenient or ridiculous it may appear even if no one is around to witness it. As Christians and ambassadors of Christ, the standard by which God expects us to do things should at least match this mindset if not exceed it.
In going back to Colossians 3:23 we find another indicator of whether or not we are doing things as unto the Lord. Paul tells us that we need to do it “heartily”. Now does this mean we are to like or enjoy what it is that we are doing? I don’t believe this is what is being said here. When I think of Joseph who was sold into slavery and sent to prison on trumped up charges, I find it hard to think that he liked or enjoyed being a slave or a prisoner. What I do believe is that in the midst of these times he made a point of honoring God in all he did no matter where he was or why he was there, and that should our mindset as well. So, what does it mean to do it “heartily”? I believe the idea is that we don’t attempt to do things as unto the Lord begrudgingly or because we’re supposed to, but instead we are to desire to do whatever it is as unto the Lord because of our love for Him and what He’s done for us. If we do things with this attitude and mindset it makes things a lot easier to do them with integrity and character even when others are not around to see whether or not we’re doing them right and proper.
Another indicator of whether or not we are doing things as unto the Lord is the level of excellence we consider acceptable and strive for. If we determine the quality and performance characteristics of what we do based on what others are doing, or on what those in the world considers acceptable regardless of whether or not it is right or wrong, then we are not doing them as unto the Lord. God expects us to live by His standards, standards that far exceed what the world’s standards are. To do so often times puts us in the cross-hairs of others who don’t live by the worlds standards and are usually convicted by it, and then another test of whether or not we are doing things as unto Him is whether or not we “cave” to such attacks. God is a God of excellence, and one of the indicators that we are His is reflected in our pursuit of doing things at a level of excellence that mirrors the standards by which we are to represent Him to others.
One last thing to consider as we look at this is the potential or realized fallout of not doing things as unto the Lord. I have heard of many, as I’m sure you have, of people who have looked at how Christians have done things or conducted business and as a result did not want anything to do with Christianity. Sometimes they have questioned why they should have relationship with Christ if Christians live or do things no differently than others who are not Christians. Others have been offended to think that Christians would be so “shady” in their doings and have concluded they did not want anything to do with Christianity because of the hypocrisy they see. These people usually don’t verbalize these thoughts or decisions, especially to the ones that have offended them or were hypocritical in some way, but God knows and He holds us accountable if those people did not make it into heaven as a result of how we did things. Granted, not everything that offends people or makes them think a Christian is hypocritical is correct and true as it sometimes is based on perceptions rather than truth, but we are to be mindful of how and why we do things and have a clean and clear conscience before God in it. It’s not so much a matter of forgiveness as some would have it, but instead a matter of representation and living in a way that honors God no matter what others may think or do.
So, are there areas in your life and work habits that you found do not honor God, or that you’re not doing them as unto the Lord? If so, then you need to first repent to God for it, then simply turn away from doing things as you have been and start doing them in a way that both honors God and reflects doing them as unto Him. In some cases, it may mean you need to simply stop what you are doing if there is no way you can honor Him and do it as unto Him. Take it to God in prayer and be open to His small, still voice for His guidance and instruction. For many, what you’ve read in this blog will be God’s words to you and will be sufficient in His sight whether or not you choose to accept and embrace it, so be careful not to be quick to discount it as possibly God speaking to you through it. May your life and all you do be one that can be said you did it as unto the Lord. None of us will perfectly obtain that in every area of our lives on this side of eternity, but it needs to be seen in our attitudes and our daily decisions and choices that it is clearly both our priority and truly our heart and not just words we say.