Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

What It Means To Do Something FOR God (You Might Be Surprised)

Football Coach from everystockphoto by eagle102.netDo Something For God

It’s a phrase we often use.

We talk about working for God, going on a missions trip for God, doing the ministry for God.

And it’s good to talk that way, because it’s biblical.

For example —

We are promised that through Christ we will “bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

We are urged to “live for him who … died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

We are called to “work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

So we should do things for God.  But what does that mean?

Does God Have Needs?

Sometimes when we talk about doing something for someone, we mean that we are going to meet their needs.

So if we talked about doing something for the poor, we mean we are going to meet the needs of the poor.

But is that we mean when we talk about doing things for God?  When the Bible calls us to do things for God, is it calling us to meet God’s needs?

That’s impossible, because God has no needs —

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24-25)

God has no needs.  He is completely self-sufficient in the joyful fellowship of the Trinity.  God is always full and overflowing with grace — giving, giving, and giving some more.

Which means doing something for God cannot mean doing something to meet God’s needs.

What Does It Mean?

To answer that question I looked at verses where the Bible talks about doing something “for God” or “for the Lord,” to see if I could find any clues in the context.

I found a crucial clue in Colossians 3:23-24.  Start with v.23 —

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…

There it is — we are called to worked heartily for the Lord.  So, if that doesn’t mean we should work heartily to meet God’s needs, what does it mean?

I found the answer in the next verse.  Read verses 23 and 24 together —

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. 

To do something for the Lord means we do it knowing something — that from the Lord we will receive the reward of the inheritance.  So doing something for the Lord does not mean doing something to meet the Lord’s needs.  It means doing something to receive the Lord’s reward.

And the reward the Lord gives is the inheritance — the all-satisfying joy of knowing Him forever.  So — to work heartily for the Lord means to work heartily for the reward of joy in the Lord.

It’s like what a football coach means when he pulls the team together and says — let’s do this for the win!  What he means is — let’s do this for the reward of winning.

Changed Everything

When I saw that doing something for the Lord meant, not doing something to meet His needs, but doing something to receive His reward — it changed everything.

It motivated my obedience — because I saw that doing something for the Lord meant pursuing more joy in Him.

It humbled my heart — because I saw that obedience is not about me giving God something He needs; it’s about God giving me something I need — more joy in Him.

It purified my motives — because it took my focus off impressing others with my obedience, and put it on seeking joy in God through my obedience.

Try This

Think of what God has called you to do — like lead a small group, wash the dishes, share the Gospel, or make a sales call.

You know you should do these things for the Lord.  But too often we are not clear about what that means, and so it becomes just a cliche.

So try this.  See what happens in your heart when you prayerfully and meaningfully say —

  • I’m going to lead my small group for the reward of joy in the Lord.
  • I’m going to wash the dishes for the reward of joy in the Lord.
  • I’m going to share the Gospel for the reward of joy in the Lord.
  • I’m going to make this sales call for the reward of joy in the Lord.

Changes everything.

Comments?  Feedback?

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Category: Motivation for Obedience


12 Responses

  1. Jason Belk says:

    Powerful! Just what I needed to hear today 🙂

  2. Paul Walton says:

    Therefore the essence of our love for God must be an experience of receiving from Him. Most would agree that joy is essentially receiving pleasure from the object of our delight.
    But loving God is treasuring God Himself, revealed in His gifts and treasuring God Himself, beyond His gifts.

    I have heard people say if we love Christ, then we will keep His commandments, which sounds right, but is that what the verse truly means?
    Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” This does not mean keeping his commandments is proof of love though. It means love is the kind of heart that prompts you to keep His commandments.

    How I would state it is, I love playing basketball, I don’t prove my love by playing the game, I play the game because I love it, thats very different. Another way to look at it is serving, I don’t serve my wife to prove my love, but my love for her motivates me to serve her. There is a joy we experience in receiving pleasure from the object of our delight.

    What it boils down to is a heart issue, we need a new heart that sees God for who He truly is, then and only then can we love Him as our supreme treasure!

    Love you brother,

  3. Bruce says:

    Amen, Steve…. Philippians 3:7,8 also makes it clear that we do things for the sake of Christ to gain more of Him. Thanks, I needed the reminder this morning!

  4. Mary Damon says:

    When I do something “for the Lord” what I’m thinking is I want to do something that gives Him pleasure. That is enough of a reward for me.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Mary,

      I totally agree that obeying God for His pleasure is a powerful and biblical motivation. Keep pursuing it!

      But I would also add that there are other biblical motivations — and one of them is the reward of more joy in beholding Him forever in heaven — which is the inheritance.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  5. Kim says:

    Thanks, this is very helpful in checking my motives. It is too easy to obey just to appease Him rather than to gain more of Him! That seems to be my default mode. There is so much joy in serving when my motives are to receive the reward!!! Love it!
    I had pastor Dirnberger turn me on to your blog a few months ago. I have deeply appreciated your practical way of communicating Truth that helps me live by faith. Great name for your blog! Thanks! Can’t wait for the book!
    Enjoying Him,

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Kim,

      I’m so glad you found this post helpful. Thank you for letting me know.

      And I love how you put it — obeying just to appease Him vs. obeying to gain more of Him. Beautiful.

      I’m so glad Pastor Dirnberger directed you to my blog — God has powerfully used him in my own life.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  6. Caroline says:

    So inspiring and perfect timing for me too; thank you, Steve. A renewed challenge to understand with more simplicity — for the joy He gives; not to serve for the sake of serving, but to serve that our joy may be more full. Adds a much deeper level to self-sacrifice. Much appreciated 🙂

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