22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters 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. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
I believe at the end of our lives, and a real big question we will be accountable to before God is, "Did you love." Man. It will be answered by our actions as opposed to our thoughts.
I am pretty convinced when I get there, there is going to be some folks who were African-American slaves in colonial America, and others in from other time periods, who will be revealed with some of the greatest inheritances of heaven, however that is. Undoubtedly there were many, who, while slaves in such an unjust way, determined in their heart, to do everything they did as unto the Lord, and as heartfelt as they could. This despite the fact that they were raped, abused, neglected, malnourished, treated as trash, and viewed as less than human by their masters/owners. I feel that those who were able to persevere in love towards God despite impossible circumstances, will be looked upon by many of us who have had vocational career choices...we could freely choose and train to be so many things, and even analyze what kinds of things we could 'love well' while doing, and we will be found wanting in an eternal capacity.
I am not a visual guy, but as I have asked God to speak to me out of this passage repeatedly, I often get a picture in my mind of a slave-woman in the South, who is out in the field, working in the sweltering heat, along side of her kids, who are forced into a grueling labor. She has had a harsh life even by slave standards. She is a physically beaten woman. And in this field, mustering all of the determination she has to sing to God, she loves Him, and that she is going to try her hardest for Him, because He is worthy. She recognized God as her Source, and His worthiness, despite horrifically unjust circumstances.
The first several times this happened to me, my eyes couldn't stay dry. Yes, I understand that image can touch anyone, (I hope!), but it speaks to me of the eternal reality of my day, period. I am blown away at the level of stewardship I must possess to walk in the freedom that I do. I may not be a slave, but just as Paul exhorted slaves, I must do everything as unto the Lord, and I need to work well for my human bosses, etc. With the job choices/freedom I have, it is essential, I believe, to be in a place where I can do things 'wholeheartedly.' And I am not so sure any of us have a day to lose when it comes to that heart effort. If I am in a job/place/family scenario where I am not doing things wholeheartedly, I need to reevaluate, or make decisions or changes to make wholeheartedness as unto the Lord the working reality in my life.
What if I work the hardest and diligently at the most noble of things, and did it without love? At best, it is merely religion. I want a relationship. I don't want it defined by my 'spiritual' activities, either. If slaves receive inheritances as rich as I believe they do from God while doing wholehearted work as unto Him while under master's who, in Paul's day, very likely participated in orgies, celebrated the slaughter of precious lives in the Colosseum in the name of entertainment, raped slaves, sold off their children, and we can go on and on..., what excuse do I have? Everything I do He is worthy of. Even if the job I have is for people I have little patience for, He is worthy. He is worthy of my affection in it. He is so worth it.
I don't want to show up on heaven's doorstep and not comprehend and live that to an increasing degree in my life.