These small group studies of Colossians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Colossians 3:22-25 Inductive Bible Study

Title: Motives of the Heart Rewarded

Summary– Slaves should obey their masters with sincerity of heart, out of fear of the Lord. In fact, whatever we do should be done in wholehearted service to the Lord, because He is the one who rewards both obedience and disobedience.

Central Teaching– Live wholeheartedly for God, because He rewards His children with their inheritance and disobedience with impartiality.

Key Words– slaves, masters, obey, external, sincerity of heart, fearing, Lord, do, work, men, reward, serve, wrong, consequences

Key Verse– 3:23

Ten Things this Passage Says-

1. Slaves should obey their earthly masters in all things.

2. Slaves should not obey with external service, as those merely pleasing men.

3. Slaves should obey with sincerity of heart.

4. Sincere hearts come from fearing the Lord.

5. I should do everything wholeheartedly.

6. My motivation in my work should be the Lord, not men.

7. I will receive the reward of the inheritance from the Lord.

8. He will reward me, because I serve the Lord Christ.

9. If I do wrong, I will receive the consequences of that wrong doing.

10. God metes out justice without partiality.

Ten Things this Passage does NOT Say-

1. Slaves have to obey everyone.

2. Slaves can selectively obey, according to their feelings and desires.

3. As long as slaves obey on the outside, it doesn’t matter what their heart is like.

4. Slaves’ motivation should be fear of their earthly masters.

5. Do my work well when people are watching, but I can slack off and do whatever when they’re not.

6. It’s okay just to do things well enough to get by.

7. All of the reward I will receive for doing good works will be earthly.

8. I have already received all the reward for good works that I will ever receive.

9. Some people can just do wrong and always get away with it.

10. God will show partiality when judging people for their sins. Some people will get off easy because of their wealth, popularity, or the number of good works that they have done.

What does this passage teach me about God?

His primary concern is our hearts, not our outward actions.

He should be feared.

He wants a wholehearted effort from us.

He will reward us with our inheritance.

The Lord Christ is our ultimate master.

He will judge impartially.

What does this passage say about man?

We should make sure our heart is right in obedience, and the actions will follow.

We should strive to please men, rather than to God.

We are naturally inclined to please man.

We are inclined to be lazy or half-hearted in our work.

We should work wholeheartedly for the Lord.

We are naturally inclined to look at temporary, earthly rewards, but eternal ones are the ones that matter.

We do wrong, and will have to be prepared to receive an impartial judging of that wrong, unless we are saved and forgiven.

How does this passage apply to my life?

When I serve, do so from the heart, not looking for approval or thanks from men, but looking to please God alone. (V22-23)

Keep my mind on the eternal benefits of obedience, rather than the temporal ones. That way, if I don’t receive thanks or recognition for things I do here on earth, it won’t bother me. (V24)

Do not fret about people I see here on earth who are hurting me or others and seem to be getting away with it. Pray for them. Pray for their salvation and a softening of their hearts, because if they’re not saved, then their punishment will be far worse than anything I could devise. (V25)

Discussion Questions-

Is slavery right or wrong? Can we tell from this verse? What CAN we tell about God’s view of slavery from this verse? (V22) Scripture never advocates slavery, but recognizes it as an element of ancient society that could have been more beneficial if slaves and masters had treated each other properly. Here, Paul followed Christ’s example and used slavery as a motif for spiritual instruction, likening the believer to one who is a slave and servant to Jesus Christ and seeing service to an earthly master as a way to serve the Lord.

What would be the modern day equivalency to slavery? (V22)

How would an employee’s responsibility in this verse be different than a slave’s? How would it be the same? (V22)

What is the key factor in obedience, according to this verse? (V22)

What does that kind of sincere, from-the-heart obedience look like? What does it NOT look like? (V22)

What is the ultimate motivation behind sincere obedience? Why does the fear of the Lord motivate heart-felt obedience? (V22)

What work should be done whole-heartedly? (V23)

We tend to rank work as important or unimportant. Meeting sales quotas, studying to pass an important exam, serving in the church or orphanage…these are all considered “important” jobs, while washing the breakfast dishes, helping clean up after a gathering, or changing diapers might be considered “unimportant.” What work does the Bible consider important? What quality does God say makes a work valuable or not? (V23)

What does it mean to do our work for the Lord, rather than for men? (V23)

Why should I do my work with God as my motivation? (V24)

What is the “reward of the inheritance”? (V24) The Lord ensures the believer that he will receive a just, eternal compensation for his efforts, even if his earthly boss or master does not compensate fairly. Rev 20:12-13 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.”

Ultimately, who are we serving? So what should our mindset be while we are working? What should our mindset not be? (V24)

We know what our motivation should be behind doing the right thing. What should our motivation be behind NOT doing the WRONG thing? (V25)

How should this affect our mindset and actions towards people who have sinned against us? (V25)

What does it mean when it says people will receive the consequences of the wrong which they have done “without partiality”? (V25)

Study Colossians 4:1-4