Doing the Work of the Lord
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:58
1 Corinthians is the most comprehensive doctrinal statement on resurrection from the dead in the New Testament. But there are two practical exhortations in the 15th chapter. Paul exhorts his readers to live as Christians in verses 33-34. And he exhorts his readers to labor as Christians in verse 58. Authentic faith is active faith. True faith works. Real Christians glorify God with their lives, as well as their lips. 1 Corinthians 15:58 gives three reasons why every Christian should be actively involved in the work of the Lord.
The Binding Contract
Paul preached a simple gospel of a risen Savior at Corinth. Yet some in the church of Corinth, influenced by their pagan backgrounds, claimed there is no resurrection from the dead. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15 to refute this grave error (pun intended). In this chapter, Paul argues that the resurrection of Jesus is the essential truth of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). And the resurrection of Jesus guarantees of the future resurrection of those who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15:20-28, 50-57).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything! Because the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, we must not waste our lives. Saving faith in the risen Savior is the binding contract of Christian service. Because Christ died for you, you should live for Him. Good works do not produce salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). But salvation produces good works (Ephesians 2:10). Christianity is a life you live, not merely a truth you believe. We live what we believe. It is a life of service to others for Christ’s sake. No Christian can do everything. But every Christian can do something. If you are not willing to do anything for the Lord, you do not have the right to call yourself a Christian.
The Job Description
Do the Lord’s work with Christian conviction. Paul exhorts Christians to be “steadfast.” This verb means “to be seated.” You need to know what you believe and be seated, as it were, in the truth (Colossians 1:23). Do you remember musical chairs? The music starts. You walk around the chairs until the music stops. Then you take a seat. If you do not have a seat when the music stops, you lose. Never play musical chairs with your faith. Likewise, Paul exhorts Christians to be “immovable.” Know what you believe, have a seat, and do not let anyone or anything move you. This is not a justification for do-nothing Christianity that maintains the status quo. Christians should always be abounding in the work of the Lord. We should always be moving in the will of God. But we should never be moving away from the will of God.
Do the Lord’s work with Christian commitment. Two words in 1 Corinthians 15:58 describe how the work of the Lord should be done: “always” and “abounding.” Nothing should ever stop you from doing the work of the Lord. It is not enough to have a long resume of past work. Christian service has a wonderful retirement package. It’s called heaven! As long as there is breath in your body, the Lord has work for you to do. A vending machine is “out of order” when it does not work. So is every professing Christian. Likewise, we should be abounding in the work. We are saved by grace to a life that is abundant. We are also saved by grace to a labor that is abundant. It is wrong to have an attitude toward’s the Lord’s work that says, “What’s the least I can do?” We should sing Psalm 116:12: “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?”
The Workers Compensation
The Corinthians needed to know there would be a “return on the investment" they made to the Lord's work. They are not alone. At some point, every person who does the Lord’s work will ask, “Is this really worth it?” Paul closes this verse with a word of assurance: “knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” Your faith cannot be based on what you feel. Emotions are too fickle. Sometimes we feel like doing the Lord’s work. But what do you do when you don’t feel like doing the work of the Lord? You must work on the assurance of what you know.
What does the Christian worker know? Your labor is not in vain. The word “labor” means to work to the point of exhaustion. But the exhausting labor of the Lord’s work is not in vain. The word “vain” means empty, useless, or worthless. It is the picture of a workman that has labored on a project, only to have his work rejected as faulty and is therefore not paid for his labor. Christian service is never unprofitable labor. Any work of the Lord that is done in the Lord can no more perish than can the Lord Himself. We don’t just believe this. We know it!
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. – Hebrews 6:10
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