The Reward – Colossians 3:23-24 09/27/20

The Reward – Colossians 3:23-24 09/27/20

To one degree or another we’re all motivated by the prospect of rewards. God, the One who formed us, knows this. In fact, it is a part of the operation of a just God that good deeds will be rewarded. Since this is the case, He tells His people about these rewards; our text today is Colossians 3:23-24. This is nestled into the midst of instructions for the Christian home, where Paul speaks to wives, husbands, children, fathers, and then to slaves.

I’ve decided to skip over aspects of this as something I think most of us are already aware of. You already know that wives are directed to submit to their husbands, and many of you already know that I believe that whether the wife does that or not is none of the husband’s business. It is between the woman and her Lord.

You already know that husbands are supposed to love their wives, and in other places that love is described as being the same kind of love that Christ loved the church with. And… you should already know that whether the husbands do that or not is none of the wife’s business, that’s between the man and his Lord.

Then we come to instructions to “bondservants.” The word is (δοῦλοσ) and is literally, “slave.” Does that mean this passage has no applicability to us today? Actually… no, if you claim to be a Christian, then you are also a slave to Christ. In our western culture we baulk at the whole concept of slavery, especially when it may be applied to us. That does not negate its reality. When you become a Christian, you become a slave to Jesus, so you may as well accept that reality.

But as we wrap our minds around that concept, we find our Lord redefining it. In fact, Jesus redefines all human societal norms. All of the “normal” distinctions that we use to infer our status as being over another… are simply removed by Jesus.

What this passage does is give dignity to all forms of labor, whatever that labor may be.[1] Although this passage specifically addresses the conduct of slaves, it points out to all of us that our daily service, in whatever capacity we find ourselves, is actually a form of worship to our Lord Jesus.[2] Paul is totally messing with our lives. “Whatever” (ὃ τι ἐὰν),[3] literally [who anything if], expands the scope of Christ’s claim on our lives to include our actions, our labor, and our commitments. Paul’s purpose is to elevate our labor to something beyond simple necessity. In whatever condition we find ourselves, in whatever way we may be earning our living, it is to be seen as an opportunity for joyful service to Jesus.[4] That can be tough to keep in mind. Regardless of how hard this may be, our work is supposed to be done with our whole hearts, regardless of the nature of the assignment.[5]

God provides the motivation for this kind of work because, honestly, most of our labor isn’t very inspiring. Paul is saying that the same One we spend our lives serving is the One who also brings our reward.[6] That puts a very different complexion on things.[7] The Lord will render judgment on our lives, on every deed, on every attitude, but this is not necessarily negative, here we find the promise of reward, Paul calls it our inheritance.[8]

So what is this “inheritance” (κληρονομίας)[9] we wait for? Well, I think that, fundamentally, it is Jesus. In the New Earth our experience of God will transcend anything we could ever imagine.[10] Our fellowship with Him will reflect the intimate fellowship that God had with Adam and Eve, a relationship of full knowledge unmarred by sin.[11] Our fellowship with God will be a reflection of the fellowship He enjoys within the Trinity.

As good as all this may sound, what God actually has for us is still better.[12] In the Old Testament, the Jews’ inheritance was the Promised Land.[13] Ultimately, the Jews came to recognize that their real inheritance was not simply the land God had promised them, their inheritance was God Himself.[14] This idea was carried over into the New Testament, but amplified.[15]

Christ demonstrated that He was the heir of God. But now, we who follow Jesus, are made joint heirs with Him. We’re actually invited into the intimate and eternal love relationship that exists within the Trinity. The inheritance that we receive is Jesus’ by right, and it’s ours by grace.[16] This is nothing less than the Kingdom of God and all that it entails.[17] It is into this Kingdom that we’re incorporated,[18] a Kingdom that’s under the righteous reign of Christ. Those who enter are called “blessed.” What’s more, this will be such an amazing place that the trials of this life will never bother us again. God will provide an entirely new creation as He eternally unites heaven and earth.[19]

It’s easy to get discouraged. Life seems to last a really long time. The struggle never seems to end, and it all seems to be going from bad to worse. The reality is this life lasts only a short time, in fact a very short time. And in the grind of life it’s necessary, even critical, that we continually remind ourselves of the reality Paul exhorts us to.[20] At the end of the day, when everything is weighed out and judged, our loyalty to Jesus must transcend our earthly circumstances.[21]

Determine, right now, to surrender yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ. Renew your commitment to Him. In the end you can be assured that He’ll make it worthwhile.

[1] Curtis Vaughn, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1978), 220. [2] Eduard Lohse, A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans, William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 160. [3]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:23. [4] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary: Volume 44, gen eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco, TX.: 1982), 228. [5] Eduard Lohse, A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans, William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 160-161. [6] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 256. [7] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 362. [8] Eduard Lohse, A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans, William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1971), 161. [9]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:24. [10] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Volume Three, The Church, the Kingdom, and Last Things, in Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, Three Volumes in One, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 490. [11] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Volume Three, The Church, the Kingdom, and Last Things, in Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, Three Volumes in One, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 490. [12] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 256. [13] R.C. Craston, Inheritance, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 607. [14] R.C. Craston, Inheritance, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 608. [15] R.C. Craston, Inheritance, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 608. [16] R.C. Craston, Inheritance, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 608. [17] R.C. Craston, Inheritance, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 608. [18] J. Rodman Williams, Renewal Theology: Volume Three, The Church, the Kingdom, and Last Things, in Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, Three Volumes in One, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 292. [19] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Theology, (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1994), 1158. [20] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 257. [21] James Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, eds., I Howard Marshall, W. Ward Gasque, and Donald Hagner, (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1996), 257.

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