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by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. — 1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)**
My beloved brethren. The Apostle Paul addresses us as family-- brothers and sisters. Christians are part of a family that cares deeply for one another. The church is the visible expression of that caring love. And though we sometimes feel alone, we belong to the family of God.
Be ye steadfast, that is, don't always be moving around. Each of my children, at the age of nine or ten, have come down with what my wife and I call "tapping disease." They drum their fingers on the dinner table, swing their feet, tap their feet. Constant motion. They don't settle down. It can drive a parent loony. That's how I explain my own peculiar condition.
"Be steadfast" means "be stable," "be firm." The Greek word alludes to sitting in a chair rather than pacing around--"fixed."
Unmoveable, means "not to be moved from its place." Perhaps people have called you "stubborn." Now you can be stubbornly opposed to God's will. That's bad. But you can be stubbornly, doggedly devoted to God, so that circumstances and people don't distract you from Him. That's good. Call it persistent, call it faithful.
Always abounding in the work of the Lord. The word translated "abounding" means "exceeding a fixed number or measure," "over-and- above." Some people do what is expected. Others, out of love, go far beyond that. Their lives pour out and overflow. "Doing what?" you ask.
The work of the Lord, is the answer. Work? "Not a good word," you say. "I work five or six days a week. When I get home I just want to rest." That's understandable.
Do you have any loafers at work? You know, people who only do the minimum, and only that if the boss is looking over their shoulder. And who takes up the slack? You and the other consci entious workers.
God's work is the same way. Just a few of the ways we do His work, build His kingdom here on earth, is to teach our children about Jesus at home and at Sunday school. We serve as an usher or choir member on Sundays. We encourage those believers who are down. We make a meal for a family when one of the parents is sick. A church is a caring body. But when loafers don't pull their part of the load, it falls on others to do.
My sister, my brother, this is a word for you: be "always abounding in the work of the Lord." Always. Over-and-above.
Knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord Some people hate washing dishes because more dirty dishes magically appear over night. Sweeping and vacuuming are the same way. Things never stay clean. Someone is always tracking dirt on your carpet. Is there no end? You get discouraged. It's only when you consider the alternatives that you get out your Hoover vacuum cleaner and have another go at it.
Your wife may not keep track of how often you change the spark plugs. Your husband has no idea of how often you have to dust. But God keeps track of our faithfulness in His work. He sees us serving Him when no one else sees. And seeing us hanging in there brings joy to his heart. Our Christian service is not done in vain for three reasons:
- Christ's kingdom is built on your service, stone upon stone, act of kindness upon teaching the Junior boys Sunday school class, serving refreshments upon spending time with a grief-stricken believer.
- Seeing your faithful service brings joy to God's heart.
- God will reward you for your faithfulness, even when no one else sees. His ledger book gets fresh notations every time you serve Him. In a word, your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Yes, I get discouraged and so do you. But God keeps bringing us back to this verse to buck us up and help us to see the importance of faithful service. Don't give up. Your labor in Christ is not in vain.
**(Editor: This can be rather easily changed to either the RSV or NRSV version if you prefer.)
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