For those who do not know me, I am the father of 5 rowdy and wonderful boys, ranging from preschool to high school. Raising them is both a blast and an unbelievable challenge, but what a wonderful blessing they are. One thing I have found useful in guiding them is to have a family motto. Ours is “Do everything, word and deed, for the glory of God.” This comes from Colossians 3, which is a fantastic chapter to discuss over and over with your children because it is chock-full of spiritual guidance that is relevant, relatable and transformative for children as well as for adults.
The guts of Colossians 3 are as follows:
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. . . . Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:17, 23-24.
This scripture makes it clear that we take Christ with us wherever we go. Christianity is not something we pull out as a matter of convenience, such as when we want others to act a certain way. Nor is Christianity something we can put out of the way on a shelf when it is uncomfortable, such as showing love and respect to those we may not find worthy, or when we feel lazy and don’t want to spend the time on something to do it well, or when we don’t want to do something we are told, or when doing what is right will mean that we forego something that would be fun. No, we take Christ with us everywhere we go. Therefore, everything we say and do must be done as if working for the Lord. This is life changing when put into practice.
Colossians 3 lists the following as examples of living a life dedicated to serving Christ:
- Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2.
- Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5.
- But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8.
- Do not lie to each other . . . . Colossians 3:9.
- Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12.
- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13.
- And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:14.
- Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. Colossians 3:15.
- And be thankful. Colossians 3:15.
- Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16.
- And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17.
- Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18.
- Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.1 Colossians 3:19.
- Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20.
- Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:21.
- Obey authorities in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Colossians 3:22.
- Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. Colossians 3:23.
- It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:24.
Colossians 3 sums up what it means to live a life following Christ. We are instructed to love everyone as Christ loves us. This is profound because Christ loves us to the point of His death on the Cross. 1 John 4:7-21. Christ died for us when we were dead in our sins and unworthy of Christ’s service and sacrifice. Colossians 2:13; Romans 8. And, while in the flesh, He served sinners and those whom the world considered unworthy, such as tax collectors, adulterers, the sick, the lame, and the crippled. Mark 2:15-17.
If Christ loves and died for the unworthy, then how should we act toward those we or the world deems unworthy? The answer is clear. We are to love them to the point of death. When talking to children about this message, examples from their worlds abound. How should they respond to those who insult them? How should they respond to their brothers when they are frustrated and annoyed? How are they to respond when disrespected? How are they to respond when disciplined? How are they to respond when they see someone in need, or who is disabled, or who is “weird,” or who is an outcast? These scriptures layout the path of righteousness. In all things, word and deed, do it in service to the Lord and in love, as Christ loves us.
And this guidance does not stop with how we treat others. Colossians 3 also states very clearly that we are to do everything with all our hearts, as working for the Lord. There are no carve-outs here. We are not called to do everything for the Lord except for those things we do not enjoy, or that are inconvenient, or that interfere with fun things to do. No, we are called to do everything for the Lord. This means that we should put our best efforts into everything we do, no exception, whether it’s taking out the trash, or doing homework, or job performance, or obeying parents or other authorities, or interacting with boyfriends and girlfriends, or playing sports, or practicing musical instruments.
Why would it matter how much effort we put into things we do? For one thing, such efforts are byproducts of the fruits of the Holy Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
These fruits of the Spirit demonstrate the love of Christ to the world.
Giving our all also reflects our gratefulness for the blessings we receive from God and recognizes that “Christ is all, and is in all.” Colossians 3:11. Everything we have comes from God. Therefore, not putting our best efforts into things is akin to rejecting God’s gifts.
In conclusion, Colossians 3 is an excellent Bible lesson to have over and over with your children, and not just for their sake, but for yours also. Though I fail miserably at putting these truths into practice, the motto “word and deed” goes through my mind many times throughout the day. It is a plumb line to which I orient my life and family. Let it be a blessing to you as well.
1 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:25-33.