What does Colossians 3:23 really mean?

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


Setting the Scene for Colossians 3:23

In the bustling marketplace of the ancient city of Colossae, a group of believers has gathered for a Bible study session. The sun is beginning to set, casting a warm golden glow over the scene as merchants pack up their stalls and locals make their way home. The group is seated in a circle on colorful woven mats, their faces illuminated by the flickering light of oil lamps.

Among them are Lydia, a wealthy merchant known for her generosity, and Marcus, a former Roman soldier who found redemption in his faith. They are joined by Priscilla and Aquila, a couple who traveled from afar to share their knowledge of the Scriptures. The group is led by Paul, the renowned apostle who has come to Colossae to strengthen and encourage the fledgling Christian community.

As they delve into the teachings of Colossians chapter 3, the group discusses the importance of doing everything wholeheartedly as if working for the Lord and not for men. They share stories of how they have applied this principle in their daily lives, whether in their work, relationships, or service to others. The air is filled with a sense of unity and purpose as they seek to live out their faith in a world that often challenges their beliefs.

What is Colossians 3:23 about?

This verse reminds us to approach all tasks in our lives with dedication and a positive attitude, as if we were doing them for the Lord. It emphasizes the importance of working diligently and wholeheartedly, regardless of the task at hand. We not only honor God but also demonstrate our commitment to excellence and integrity in everything we do by doing so.

Have you ever considered how approaching your work or daily responsibilities as a way to serve God could impact your mindset and motivation? It can transform mundane tasks into meaningful opportunities to demonstrate your faith and values. When we work with the mentality that our efforts are ultimately for the Lord, we can find a deeper sense of purpose and satisfaction in our work. This verse challenges us to view our work not just as a means to an end, but as a way to glorify God through our actions and attitudes.

Understanding what Colossians 3:23 really means

Structure for Commentary:

  1. Introduction to the Verse
  2. Explanation of Key Phrases
  3. Cross-References to Other Biblical Passages
  4. Relevance to Contemporary Life
  5. Anecdote for Illustration
  6. The Apostle Paul encourages believers to work with all their heart in Colossians 3:23, as if they are working for the Lord rather than for human masters. This verse is a powerful reminder of the mindset and attitude we should bring to our daily tasks and responsibilities.

Explanation of Key Phrases:

  • “Work heartily”: This phrase urges us to put our full effort and passion into whatever we do. Paul is advocating for diligence and enthusiasm in our work. This shift from earthly recognition to divine approval is brought about by focusing on the Lord and not on men. It reminds us that our ultimate accountability is to God.

Cross-References to Other Biblical Passages:

This theme of working for the Lord is echoed in several other parts of the Bible. For example, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, it says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” Similarly, in Ephesians 6:7, Paul writes, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” These passages collectively emphasize that our actions should aim to honor God. This verse offers a transformative perspective in today’s world, where work can often feel mundane or stressful. Rather than seeing work as merely a means to an end, it encourages us to view our efforts as acts of worship. This mindset can bring a sense of purpose and fulfillment, even in the most routine tasks. The story of a janitor working at a large corporation is considered. Despite the seemingly menial nature of his job, he performed his duties with great care and dedication. When asked why he worked so diligently, he replied, “I’m not just cleaning floors; I’m serving God.” His attitude turned an ordinary job into a vocation filled with meaning and purpose. This anecdote beautifully illustrates the principle of working for the Lord. Let’s ask ourselves as we reflect on Colossians 3:23: Are we putting our whole heart into our work? Are we seeking earthly recognition, or are we working to honor God? We can transform our daily tasks into acts of worship by aligning our efforts with the mindset Paul describes, bringing glory to God in all that we do. We fulfill our earthly responsibilities and cultivate a deeper spiritual life, grounded in the service and love of God, by adopting this approach.

Are we truly working for God in all we do?

Yes, we are called to work as if we are working for the Lord in all that we do. This verse reminds us that whatever task we are given, whether it be at our jobs, taking care of our families, serving in our communities, or any other responsibility, we are ultimately serving God. It emphasizes the importance of how we approach our work and the attitude we should have towards it. We remember that we are working for God, which encourages us to do our best, strive for excellence, and work with a heart full of gratitude and reverence. This mindset can transform mundane tasks into meaningful acts of worship and service. It challenges us to see our daily activities as opportunities to glorify God and make a positive impact in the world around us. This verse in essence calls us to align our work ethic and intentions with God’s will, seeking to honor Him in all aspects of our lives. When we approach our tasks with a mindset of serving and pleasing Him, our work becomes a way to demonstrate our faith and love for God, transforming our daily routines into acts of worship and devotion.


Imagine your work life and family duties are like building a grand house. Every brick you lay, every moment you spend, is for a higher purpose. Are you truly giving your all, pouring every ounce of effort, as if constructing this grand house for the Lord himself? Reflect deeply. Are your daily tasks done with the best of your ability and unwavering commitment? If the work you present today echoed through eternity, would you be proud of it?