The Motive Power of a Holy Life
Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

This is one of the bold sweeping statements of Scripture. However extraordinary and extravagant, it is in keeping with the whole spirit of Christianity. Unlike other religions, that of Christ admits of no compromises. It will have all or nothing, the first place or none. The author of nature and the author of Christianity give tokens of being one and the same, in that their principles are alike simple, universal, imperious, inexorable. In both is the same quiet exertion of power, the same calm majesty of law, and the laws of each can never be trifled with with impunity. The law of gravity does not admit of dispute, neither does the law that eternal life is to be found through the Son of God. Observe —

I. THE EXTREME BREADTH AND LOFTY SPIRIT OF CHRISTIAN DUTY. "Whatsoever," etc. These words cover the whole sphere of Christian activity. Our words, thoughts, desires, labours, etc., are to be under the habitual influence of a sacred and sanctifying power which lies lurking in the name of the Lord Jesus. There are one or two simple explanations which show that there is no real extravagance in this large demand.

1. If the Christian law is just another name for the law of truth, love, and holiness, it is quite clear that we shall never get out of the range of that law, neither in this world nor the next. Not more cer tainly does the law of gravity reach from world to world than does this law prevail wherever intelligence exists.

2. If religion consists in entering the service of a God who looks not on the outward appearance but on the heart, that religion will be the only true one which produces right dispositions towards Him of faithfulness in all things, the smallest as well as the biggest. The spirit we are of determines the character of our actions whether they are holy or unholy. The life of the saint and of the sinner are made up very much of the same commonplace duties, and in all that is patent to the world there may be little difference between them: but the spirit by which they are actuated constitutes a gulf between them as wide as that which divides light and darkness, heaven and hell.

3. It were well for the Church and the world if we recognized more clearly this breadth of Christian duty. There is no act, however little, which Christ does not see and .touch, and which may not tend as much to His honour as the songs of the Seraphim; there is no affection, talent, energy on which He does not put His hand and say, "That is mine," and which may not be transformed into a worship as sincere as that of the communion; no step we can take in life over which He does not watch, and which may not be made a step on the road that brings us nearer Him; no time here or hereafter when it will not be a delightful duty to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." This round world may therefore become to us a temple, and this little life a song of praise.

II. THE MOTIVE POWER OF A HOLY LIFE. The stress lies on "the name of the Lord Jesus."

1. All the apparent extravagance of the injunction vanishes when we lay our hands on the secret of the Divine life. In the realm of spirit as of matter when we see a great result we know that behind it is a great cause; and we may search the world and we shall not find a power over human hearts comparable with that which lies in this name. What combination of forces has cut so deep a groove across the world? One or two of the world's heroes and sages have won wide admiration and respect, but who has laid his hand on so many hearts and touched for good so many lives? Bad as the world is, what is good in it is due to Christ. Even now the good is gaining the victory, and the King is Christ. Blot out that name and you blot out the best part of history, all that is purest in morals, elevating in literature, gentle in manners, merciful in laws. Time weakens other forces, but it adds vigour to this.

2. There is no need to enter into the various component elements which go to make up this moral force. What He was and did for us, and above all what He now is and does, explains it. One phrase holds it all — "He died for me." In Jesus we have not a man dead long ago, but a living Saviour and King ever near us, bearing the one name by which we may be saved. It is His presence by His Spirit in the hearts of His people which is the motive power of their holy life. "The love of Christ constraineth us."

III. THE SACREDNESS OF COMMON LIFE AND LABOUR. The key-note of this chapter is that religion is a life in Christ, so all-pervading and all. permeating this life that it hallows everything.

1. One of the leading peculiarities of the religion of Jesus is that it virtually annihilated the distinction between the secular and the sacred. As it overstepped all barriers of climate, colour, and race to call men brethren, so it passed over all barriers of priestly function to make all men holy, and so all men are now made priests unto God.

2. What God hath joined together let no man put asunder; and He has wedded religion and life. That is no religion which we cannot carry with us wherever we go; into our pleasures and sorrows, our business and closets.

(J. Macgregor, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

WEB: Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him.

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