The motivation for everything
This might be a strange thought, but not every Christian will live out a Christ-focused life in the same way. Even if we recognize this truth, we often have specific expectations (typically patterned after our own journey) of what “mature Christian behavior” should look like. The truth of the matter is that it would be rather shallow of us to expect everyone to be “as spiritual” or be “as holy” in the identical manner that God is currently leading us in. Maybe someone is behind us in development. Maybe, just maybe…someone else could be ahead of us.
Think about our own families – our parents poured themselves into us and our siblings. However, due to our varying ages and on-going development, the same efforts of our parents ended up producing very different adult people. The expectations of behavior placed on the oldest child were often not even subjects that were being taught to the younger children. Rarely was the same life lesson taught in the same manner to each child. The specifics of these life-living lessons were tailored to where the child was at the particular moment.
However, the principles of the family were the same among the children. Many of the stories and traditions of the family were the same as previous generations – stories of love, and loyalty, and bravery and the events of previous years. You could see the family traits in the people around you, but they all exhibited them in different ways.
The same holds true for the family of God. There is a common tie that binds us together – the incredible story of God leaving the glory and perfection of Heaven to rescue us from our selfish, sin-soaked mess. However, as His story becomes part of our story…His character is revealed through us in a variety of ways.
As Paul continues to explain to the Colossian believers how God’s family works together and encourages one another with the message about the Messiah, take note of the guiding principle for how that message is to affect their lives and maturity:
Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Instead of laying out a 12 point plan for maturity, Paul wants the believers to recognize that everything is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus. Doing anything “in someone’s name” means that we are their representative or ambassador. We know that our manners and conduct reflect back on Jesus, and we also know that we’ll eventually have to give an account for how well we represent Him. Whatever you do in word or in deed – that phrase pretty much covers it all, doesn’t it?
Paul’s direction is broad enough that there’s no technicality for us to escape it. The broad-ness also allows for a wide-variety of expressions. Take, for example, that in these two verses Paul says we are to have gratitude and we are to give thanks. While that is a specific direction, how exactly shall we give thanks? We could give thanks through prayer, with tears, with spoken words, with silent reverence, with charitable actions, or many other ways.
Too often we get hung up on measuring a Christian’s maturity by looking at the things he or she does. However, God looks beyond those things and evaluates our maturity based upon our motivations.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.