Your love for God will influence your behavior. Paul says:
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).
In the words of A. W. Tozer:
We must offer all of our acts to God and believe that He accepts them, then hold firmly to that position, and keep insisting that every act of every hour of every day and night be included …. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all of our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.¹
Again, Paul says:
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).
How wonderful to enjoy what you are doing–to do it heartily–to do it as an act of worship! This should be true whether your work is at the desk, at the bench, in the shop, behind the pulpit, in the home. The poet has aptly put this thought into words:
Let me but do my work from day to day,
In field or forest, at the desk or loom,
In roaring market place or tranquil room;
Let me but find it in my heart to say,
When vagrant wishes beckon me astray,
“This is my work; my blessing, not my doom;
Of all who live, I am the one by whom
This work can best be done in the right way.”
Then shall I see it not too great, nor small,
To suit my spirit and to prove my powers;
Then shall I cheerful greet the laboring hours
And cheerful turn, when the long shadows fall
At eventide, to play and love and rest,
Because I know for me my work is best.
-HENRY VAN DYKE
If you are to have a wholesome estimate of yourself, you must give consideration to the quality of your actions. One important reason for this is that actions which fall short of your own standards will cause you unrest, anxiety, worry, and tension.
To illustrate, a fine, clean-cut young man approached his college dean. “Sir,” he said, obviously embarrassed, and speaking with great difficulty. “I have a confession to make. I must tell you my story because every time I see you coming toward me–every time you stop to talk to me–I think you have found out what I have done. I am tired of the suspense of hiding and want to make this confession.”
The young man had broken a rule that required students who had cars to have liability insurance if they transported other students. The dean had no knowledge of the violation of this rule, but the young man was reaping the harvest of improper actions–a bad conscience.
An example to others
Our behavior ought to be such that it can be imitated with profit by others. A goal for you might be one that Paul gave to Timothy: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:12). Then you can say with Paul, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
What you do should stand up favorably under the scrutiny of others. Otherwise, your actions will cause you to be a stumbling block and will give you a sense of dissatisfaction with yourself. This is illustrated by a student in a seminary. The practical work director had summoned him to tell him of an opening for an assistant pastor. Before sending him to this assignment, however, the director wanted to clear up a rumor that this student had been seen doing something that was against the rules of the school. The latter denied the rumor and was given the assignment. A week later he returned to confess that the report was true. He had been in torment for a week. Even if it meant losing the opportunity, he wanted to set the record straight. He realized anew that in order to be an example to others he needed to follow Christ in his own life. This young man has gone on to have a fine ministry since his decision to “show yourself an example.” “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
¹Tozer, A. W., The Pursuit of God (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Christian Publications, Inc., 1948), p. 123.