Verses 17 and 23 both start with the phrase: Whatever you do. While verse 17 focuses on words and deeds, verse 23 focuses on work. If I think about these three things - they really cover a lot.
To me, Paul seems to be encouraging the believers to put a lot more effort and thought into every single thing they do - and to make sure it is all done for the Lord. Now as a caregiver, I think we do what we do for our loved ones because of our love for them - who they are in our lives - what they mean to us; and that's totally acceptable and applaudable. Nothing wrong with it - it comes from our hearts because of our love for them. But what if we did our whatevers for God as well?
I think in many ways as Christians we already do this. Sadly, during the months we spent in a variety of facilities from hospitals to nursing homes and rehab units I've seen families who were not involved with their loved one's care. They walked away. But we did not. We are held at our loved one's side by pure love. I get tired, I get frustrated, I miss my son the way he was - greatly. But I keep putting one foot in front of the other because I love him and want the best for him. I assume you feel similar emotions.
God put His love in our hearts. Earlier in chapter three of Colossians it talks about our lives being hidden with Christ in God. Since this is true, maybe we didn't have our own lives even before caregiving. Before we were a caregiver, we were hidden in Him - now that we are a caregiver - we are hidden in Him. Our status as believers hasn't changed and so our motivation to serve Him shouldn't either.
So when Paul says to the believers in Colossae - Whatever you do - we can figure it's for us as well. I've said it before that we look like Him as we care for our loved one and the same love that held Jesus to that old rugged cross is the same love that holds us by our loved ones side. We look like Him. And all of our words, deeds and work should look like Him as well. As we perform our day to day tasks - and there are many of them - an overwhelming amount on many days - our focus can be on doing them for Him. Or doing them with Him in the forefront of our minds.
If I'm totally honest with you and with myself, I get caught up in the doing and forget about the whys. I think of all the things I have (or get) to do just to care for my son and everything is done from a pure love for him. But my focus should be on God and pleasing Him. I also get bogged down with my work which has to be done to make money (I have this nasty habit - I like to eat!) - but I forget to perform my work tasks as unto the Lord. This shifts all the focus from my situation - from me - to Him. And that's a different world.
Today I will meditate on the truth that as a believer my life is hidden in His. I'm going to turn my thoughts to the truths that do not change when we become caregivers. We are still believers, we are still hidden in Him, His Spirit still lives in us, He still loves us....our spirit didn't change when tragedy struck. I will rest in that today; and I will purposefully think about how I can perform all my tasks, speak all my words, and do all my deeds as unto Him. Will you join me?