Best of Daily Reflections: God Has No Favorites
Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.
It’s a little hard to talk about Colossians 3 without stepping into hot water. We have a checkered past when it comes to Biblical passages about slavery, to say the least. It seems downright unethical to touch on this chapter without mourning how it’s been misused to defend exploitative practices, especially in the Antebellum United States. Father, forgive us.
This misuse is all the more devastating because this passage obviously condemns the mechanism of modern slavery. Modern slavery exploits and dehumanizes one group of people for the benefit of another group. One group is deemed “sacred,” the other “profane.” But in this passage, Paul emphasizes the utterly egalitarian nature of the Gospel. This is a passage about human equality. As it plainly says in Verse 25: “God has no favorites.”
In the hierarchy-based ancient world, this was a radical, mind-blowing notion. It’s still a radical notion. Paul denies the value of all sorts of social status symbols: economic well-being, religious association, state citizenship, and education level. You may be the lowest of the low. It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is what we do, regardless of the workplace situation in which we find ourselves. Paul sorts these commands into long lists, emphasizing: “above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Love is accessible for all people, in all walks of life. If you’re a high-powered executive, love will lead you to respect your workers. And if you work for free, love will lead you to treat your boss with the same kindness that he or she ought to extend to you.
This gives us immense power and immediate power. The gospel doesn’t wait for social systems to be adjusted or perfected. It doesn’t pound its fist and tell you what you should be getting; it’s not the Communist Manifesto or Gordon Gekko. It shows you what you can give, “whatever your lot,” because it reveals what you’ve already gotten through the sacrifice of Christ. It invites you to “be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.”
Paul shifts our focus onto what we’ve been freely given as we learn to give similar gifts. Any material reward for our labor cannot compare to the reward of free grace, because “Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.”
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What are some things I feel that I deserve? What are some rewards I feel I should get? How can I refocus on what I can give, with Christ in me?
PRAYER: God, when I read about slavery in the Bible, it makes me mourn the wrongs that these passages have been used to justify. Teach my biased heart more about the equality of all people and your egalitarian Gospel.
At the same time, Lord, teach me how to tap into the power of your Gospel when I don’t get earthly rewards for my work. Especially when I feel like my work is exploited.
Teach me to be a selfless giver instead of a selfish receiver. Drill the reality of your sacrificial gift deeper into my soul. Meld my hardened heart to your own spirit, so that I may “put on my new nature.” Teach me not to work for free and “grin and bear it”; teach me to work from a place of joy, in response to your great sacrifice, freely given for me. Amen.
Working for Free
In this series, Working for Free, we'll take a look at the different ways people navigate the world of working in a job they love, even when it might not be the way they make ends meet. Join the discussion or share your story in the comments. What do you think? Is passion enough?