Principles for Daily Living
“And whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” Paul wrote those words to his friends in the city of Colosse. He was a prisoner in Rome when he wrote them, and he wanted to give his friends some truth that would guide them in the day by day experiences of life. So this is what he wrote: “And whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” (Colossians 3:17). If you and I will practice the principles in this verse, it will enrich and enlarge our lives and make every day an exciting day for us and for others.
This verse tells us how to live. And the first principle it lays down is this: there must be no separation in our lives between sacred and secular. Whatever we do must be done to the glory of God.
This artificial division between things “religious” and things “secular” has done a great deal of damage. We have the idea that on certain days of the week we will be spiritual, but the rest of the time we will live our own lives the way we please. Or we think that certain pieces of real estate are religious—church buildings, for example—but that what goes on in the office or home is strictly secular. And we have the strange idea that some men are spiritual—preachers and missionaries—but that the rest of the church is made up of what we call laymen.
Well, this whole thing is artificial and dead wrong! God makes it clear that when you trust Christ as your Savior, everything in life comes under His control. Whatever we do must be done for His glory. That means that every honest task of life is really a spiritual ministry. How many men in factories have said, “Oh, I wish I could serve the Lord as a missionary!” little realizing that they serve the Lord by doing their daily work to the glory of God. Yes, a man can run a machine to the glory of God, or drive a truck or dig a ditch. And a woman can wash dishes and clean house and care for the children to the glory of God.
The greatest motive for doing anything is to glorify God. The man who works just to fill up time or to get a paycheck is missing the true meaning of life. If you work simply for money, you will get only what money can give you. But if you work for the glory of God, you will get your salary plus the extra benefits that God gives to the worker who seeks to glorify Him. Serving for the glory of God helps us to do our best. It takes the drudgery out of the tasks of life. It also keeps us from making the wrong decisions. There are some things that cannot be done to the glory of God, and these things must be avoided.
Are we doing each day’s work for the Lord Jesus Christ, or just to please ourselves? There is no separation between secular and sacred—we must do all in the name of Jesus, to the glory of God. This is what makes life exciting and enriching.
The second principle is this: there is no difference between what we say and what we do. “And whatsoever you do in word or deed…” Our words and our deeds must go together if God is going to use our lives.
You remember, I’m sure, the story of Esau and Jacob, and how Jacob tricked his father Isaac out of the blessing that really belonged to Esau. Isaac was an old man, his eyes were blind. He called his son Esau into his tent and told him to make him a meal of venison, and then Isaac would give his son the family blessing. Well, while Esau was out getting the game, his brother Jacob prepared some meat and took it in to his father. When Isaac heard the voice he was not quite sure who it was; so he felt the arms just to be sure. And Isaac said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.”
I’m afraid we have that same situation today. Too often our lips say one thing but our hands do something else. We say “Lord, Lord” and yet do not obey the things God has commanded us to do. We sing songs in our church services that talk about love and service, and then go right back to our daily schedule without ever thinking about loving others or serving God. Our voice is the voice of Jacob, but our hands are the hands of Esau.
Now, Paul tells us that our words and our deeds must go together; otherwise, we are guilty of what Jesus calls hypocrisy. Jesus told a parable about a man who had two sons. He said to the one boy, “Go to work today in my vineyard!” and the boy said, “I will,” but he never did it. The father said to his other son, “Go to work today in the vineyard!” and he said, “I will not”—but then he repented and went to work. This story illustrates the importance of matching our words and our works. How easy it is to talk about soul-winning, but never to witness; to talk about love, but never to show compassion to others.
Suppose my words and my works do not go together. What can I do? Well, I must either change my words or my works! If I am not going to obey the Lord and do His will, then I had better stop talking about it. Or, I had better start doing what I talk about! Jesus Christ working in our lives can help us unify our words and our works. The only way to be happy in the Christian life is to walk the way we talk—in word and deed, do all to the glory of God.
We have considered two important principles to guide our daily lives: make no difference between secular and sacred, but do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; and, make no separation between saying and doing, but put our words and our deeds under the control of God. There is a third principle—whatever you do, be sure you are able to give thanks to God.
Now this principle of thanksgiving cuts very deep and gets to the very foundation of our lives. Tell me what a man is thankful for, and I will tell you what kind of a man he is. The man who is thankful that his cheating was not found out is a liar. The man who is thankful his enemy was hurt is a murderer. The man who is thankful he escaped some responsibility is lazy and irresponsible. But the man who can look at life and accept what God gives him with a thankful heart, is truly a Christian.
We should never do anything apart from thanksgiving to God. It is thanksgiving that takes the pain out of trials, and the bitterness out of sorrow. We may not be able honestly to thank God for the situation we are in, but we can thank God in the situation. Nothing ennobles life and makes a person more like Jesus Christ than the constant giving of thanks. The thankful person is the joyful person. He has gotten the victory over complaining and criticizing; he lives on the bright side of life.
This business of giving thanks helps us in making decisions. We should never take any step that would lead to a situation about which we could not give thanks. We don’t thank the Lord for the privilege of cheating or hurting somebody, and how can we be thankful for sin? As you make decisions, ask yourself, “Will I be thankful for this in the future?” If the answer is no, then it may be you are deciding out of the will of God.
To sum it all up, Colossians 3:17 is telling us that the Christian’s life is a unified life—there is no secular and sacred; there is no saying one thing and doing another; and there is nothing that should be outside the reach of thanksgiving. It is this kind of a life that keeps us from falling apart. We are bound together in the will of God, the work of God, and the Word of God.
Let me invite you to share this life. You ask, “How can I experience this kind of life?” The answer is simple: receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and obey Him as your Lord. Turn every area of your life over to Him. If there is something He does not approve of, He will lead you to change it. He will put His miracle touch on everything in your life—and all of life will be a ministry to the glory of the Lord. “And whatsoever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.”