Everyone has some kind of work to do in life. We each have been given multiple callings by the Lord. We have been called to our place of employment. The Lord has put us in our family situations as brothers, sisters, moms, dads, and grandparents. Students have been called to do their studies, and teachers have been called to lead their lessons and to be Christian examples to their students. Office bearers have been called to their special duties in the church. All of us could think of other ways we are called by the Lord to fulfill duties.
The verse above is in a section of scripture that speaks of Christian living and social relationships. This verse is tied to the previous verse which told slaves to listen to their masters even if their masters were not watching them. Why? Because they were to serve the Lord in that work. While we are not slaves to other masters, the point is the same: everything we do is to be done with our best effort because we serve the Lord.
Our sinful nature seeks the approval of men. All we have to do is look around us for confirmation. Many people will work harder when a supervisor is present because they may want a pay raise, a good evaluation, or a promotion. They want the eye of their employer on them at the right time. Their effort increases at such times. Students’ efforts may increase when the teacher is standing next to them. Some people will clean up their language when a pastor is around. In many different ways we put effort into gaining the approval of others.
One principle we want to instill in our children is that they should always do their best. Children may think that they are working hard in school to please dad and mom or grandpa and grandma. We may be pleased as parents and should be pleased with their work, but we must point the children to God. We live ultimately to please Him. If we miss this opportunity, we teach our children to be people-pleasers, not God-pleasers.
The same is true of all our relationships because relationships by nature take effort. Raising children consistently and in the ways of the Lord takes effort. Marriages take effort. Friendships take effort. Family relationships take effort. Our relationship to the Lord takes effort. One of the main ingredients in the effort of relationships is time. If I want to know what is truly important to people, I ask them how they spend their time. People will spend time on maintaining and developing interests and on relationships that matter to them. There is no greater indicator of the importance of a relationship than the amount of time put into it by both parties. Time and effort will show what relationships you truly love. This is true of our earthly relationships as well as our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father is always putting effort into us—so much so that we do not realize it day to day or moment to moment. He tells us that He has numbered our hairs (Matt. 10:30). Moses reminder to Joshua was that the Lord would never leave him or forsake him (Deut. 31:8). This is also our promise. The greatest effort God put into His relationship with us happened at Calvary. There Jesus suffered the wrath of God on our behalf when He cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) We know, as well, it is the Lord’s effort through His Holy Spirit that moves us to faith.
Being reminded of all the effort that has been put into us by our Lord, we need to respond by putting our best effort into all our callings, relationships, and challenges. We do these not unto man as people-pleasers but unto the Lord.
Mr. Dave Vander Meer is the administrator of Reformed Heritage Christian School, a board member of Reformed Mission Services, and was formerly the youth director at Cornerstone URC.