Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ.
St. Paul is giving directions to bondservants. But if they serve the Lord Christ, so also must all other Christians (Colossians 4:1). The principles of conduct recommended to the slaves may be taken home to ourselves by all of us.
I. CHRISTIANITY IS THE SERVICE OF THE LORD CHRIST, St. Paul, the greatest of the apostles, called himself the "bond servant of Jesus Christ." Christ spoke of his disciples as "servants" (Matthew 10:24), though he generously raised them above the common limitations of service by admitting them into the confidences of friendship (John 15:15). The gospel first offers free gifts - grace, love, forgiveness, etc. But while accepting these gifts, and neither needing nor able to make any adequate return, we are not to be nothing but recipients. The blessings are given to fit us for service. The Church is not an almshouse for the indolent; it is a hive of industry. Christ is Master as well as Saviour. The first act of faith is to receive the grace of Christ in order that the second may be to obey his commandments (John 14:15).
II. THE SERVICE OF CHRIST EXTENDS TO THE WHOLE OF LIFE. It is not simply a matter of what we call religious affairs, the devotions of the sanctuary, etc. It is not merely the doing of work that is called spiritual, such as preaching, teaching, etc. The bond servants are bidden to serve Christ in their daily work. They are exhorted to work heartily as unto the Lord, in whatsoever they do (ver. 23). We must serve Christ in our daily business.
III. THE SERVICE OF CHRIST MUST BE SINCERE.
1. It must not degenerate into eye service. Our work is not to please men, but to serve Christ. His eye is ever on us. It matters little whether men admire or neglect our work.
2. It must be done in singleness of heart. Christ will take no divided devotion. We must not be covertly seeking our own interests as distinct from the interests of Christ, so as to have a double, distracting, and often conflicting series of ends to be pursued. We shall gain our own blessedness in the single-eyed service of Christ, and not as a side issue.
3. It must be done from the heart. It must be no mechanical work. We must think about it and put our heart and soul into it. There is a world of difference between the obedience that simply follows the word of command as the signal rises or falls when the lever is moved, and the obedience that considers, feels, and adopts the wishes of the master, and carries them out intelligently and voluntarily, as the signalman interprets and follows the code of directions.
IV. SUCH SERVICE OF CHRIST ENNOBLES ALL WORK. Work is noble or mean, not so much because of the kind of things done, as on account of the motives that inspire it. A surgeon has to do things which would be disgusting in themselves, but which are refined by the humane motives that prompt them. No task undertaken for a pure purpose can be degrading. The most menial work done for Christ's sake is elevated to the level of the devotion of the angels.
V. CHRIST WILL RECOMPENSE HIS SERVANTS ACCORDING TO THEIR SERVICE. "We shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ." This is the judgment of Christians. We are inclined to forget this while warning publicans and sinners of their coming judgment. Christians will have to give an account of the use of their talent.
1. Then deceitful eye service will be exposed and punished.
2. Then faithful, obscure devotion will be revealed and rewarded. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.