There are many indicators that a person is living an abundant, productive, joy-filled life in Jesus. One is found in Colossians 3:23-24. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

Our motives for the things we do are not always admirable. Many of us are driven to hard work just to show everyone we are not lazy; Sometimes we work our fingers to the bone in order to please people. Some work is driven by guilt. Just to bring home a paycheck is a sad motive for working in a monotonous, non-fulfilling job that you hate. Someone well said, “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” So it should stand to reason that if you are doing what you are doing “as to the Lord,” the fulfillment and joy you receive will make the labor exhilarating.

When asked what he did for a living, a mail carrier replied, “I serve the Lord — I just carry the mail to pay the bills.” I would guess that attitude made carrying the mail a joyful experience.

Several years ago, a pastor-friend of mine had a complete breakdown in the pulpit one Wednesday night. He was totally disoriented and had to be escorted out of the building, before a stunned and grief-stricken congregation. After a few days of recovery in the hospital, the pastor, who, by that time, was coherent, and with the approval of his wife and family, decided to check himself into a popular Christian counseling/rehab center in Houston.

After a couple of weeks of tests, evaluations and other treatments, he discovered that he had crumbled under the stress of workaholism. For years, he carried the weight of his church on his shoulders, laboring tediously over the least little issue in everyone’s lives. He worked late hours, was up early in the mornings — always living with the solid pressure to perform, and never feeling fulfilled and satisfied. He was one of those people who wanted to fix all problems — and the discovery that he couldn’t nearly destroyed him.

The shocking results of the studies and tests was a truth he wasn’t prepared to face. He told me this:

“Paul, I discovered I had been laboring all these years in order to win the approval of my Dad,” he confessed. “The thing was — my Dad has been in Heaven for 30 years.”

His earth-shattering experience served as a wake-up call to me. I began to ask myself, “Who are you working for?” “What is your motive for work?” and this thought gripped me, “If you are seeking to please someone, how do you know when you’ve accomplished it?”

I think the question, which should be addressed by all of us is, “Is all your effort — all your work — all of your doings motivated out of your deep love for the Lord?” “Is everything you do, regardless of what person on earth you may directly be doing it for, actually done for Him?

I believe if we can all get a handle on making the Lord the Object of all our doing, we will find ourselves actually being more productive in the things we do; and we can better discern what things are “urgent” as opposed to what things are truly “important.”

Some of the “urgent” things are nothing more than self-imposed pressures we place on ourselves to perform — things that can wait — things which are menial and really not all that significant; things which entirely are of no earthly value. For example, in a restaurant, waiting for your food order, you busy yourself sorting out all the Sweet-n-Low packets from the sugar and Splenda packets on the table. Who will be blessed by that?

However, there are things which are essential — even though they may not seem productive to the casual observer: a Dad, taking his children to the park, or showing up for their sports games or school plays; a mother who takes time to hold a baby, and read to him or her; a woman who has a widow neighbor on her heart, and takes home-baked goodies to her and spends a little time with her. These are things which show divine love and have eternal value.

This is just an opinion, but I think that whenever we get a handle on doing everything “as unto the Lord,” and for the glory of the Lord, we might find we’re are more productive, fulfilled, and perhaps not nearly as dog-tired by the end of the workday. It really is exhilarating to do something “as to the Lord.”

So whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord. And if you know the Lord cannot be glorified in the things you do, ask God to help you to concentrate on those things that please the Father.

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Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.