Sep 3, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Should We Be Motivated By Rewards From God?
- C. S. Lewis On Motivation, Self-Denial, And Rewards
- How To Obey God — Self-Pushing Or Spirit-Empowering?
- Jesus Gives Us Reasons To Obey
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