Working for The Lord
1 Corinthians 15:58
After having spent an entire chapter writing about resurrection, Paul concludes with one of the most magnificent verses the Bible offers us as far as motivation to work is concerned. In v1-22, the resurrection of Christ is proved logically by Paul, to the point that he states in v17 that if Christ has not been raised, our faith is worthless. The resurrection is discussed in further detail in vs. 23-48, and then v49-57 sum up by discussing how the end time resurrection will affect us as individuals. Shrouded in mystery which our human minds can only comprehed on a limited basis, this chapter is full of many great truths, and perhaps the greatest of all begins in v56, which is quoted below.
1 Cor 15:56-58 - "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (v58 begins here - GRP) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
The gift of love that is our Savior Jesus Christ enabled such prophecies as Is 25:8 - (as quoted in v54) and Hos 13:14 (as quoted in v55) to be fulfilled -- Death is swallowed up in victory. Thanks to the resurrection which Paul has discussed, thanks to the power and love of our God, we can defeat death and live forever through Jesus Christ. After teaching these truths, Paul concludes with v58, the exposition of which will finish this article.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren"
We can all see here that Paul is making a conclusion, for he uses "therefore," a word that signifies drawing a conclusion from previously stated facts. The facts that Paul draws this conclusion from are detailed above, the controlling idea again being that through Jesus Christ we can have victory over the grave. Paul makes this conclusion for all the brethren of Corinth, and indeed for all the brethren who are in Christ today.
The first action we are told to take based on the fact that through Christ we can have victory over death is to be steadfast. Remember, Paul is speaking to "brethren," those who are already in Christ. This is not the process of coming to Christ initially -- this is the lifelong process of living in Christ that Paul discusses.
The Greek word translated "steadfast" in the NASB is hedraios, and means "seated" - in this case the context would make this meaning "morally seated or fixed." One parallel verse immediately jumps to mind:
Heb 10:23 - "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."
We should learn from this that we are to be firmly fixed on Christ and on his doctrine. We are not to grow weary or tired in service to Him, but should live a balanced life or service which remains fixed on Him from the day of our regeneration forward. Why? Because through Him we can overcome death.
At first glance, we would tempted to think that "steadfast" and "immovable" mean exactly the same thing, but there are some key differences between the two. Steadfast emphasizes the aspect of steadiness, while immovable emphasizes the aspect of faith that will not be shaken even in the worst of circumstances. In Acts 27:41, the same Greek word is used to describe the condition of the boat Paul was one after it struck the reef and ran aground. It was immovable because no matter what they did, it wouldn't budge. This same word should be able to be used in reference to the character and faith of any individual Christian today.
Gal 1:6 - "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different Gospel."
Paul's amazement should come as no surprise, for his command is that Christians be immovable, yet these above were not only movable, but surprisingly easy to move. Is this true of us today? If it is, we should work on living out the command of being immovable. Why? Because through Jesus Christ we have victory over death
"always abounding in the work of the Lord"
After exhorting the Corinthians to remain fixed and steady in Christ, Paul then exhorts them further to go out and do the work of the Lord. The Greek word translated "abounding" in the NASB is perisseuo, and means literally "abundantly furnished." It carries with it the idea of going beyond that which is ordinary, a surpassing quality or quantity, depending on context. Here, not only are the Corinthians (and us) exhorted to go beyond ordinary
standards in working for Christ, but ALWAYS to go beyond that standard. Service to God beyond some unseen and invisible standard the world calls good shouldn't happen just now and then in the Christian's life, but should happen daily. We can't work very hard for one day or week and say "Well, that's it until next year." We don't number or measure the work we do for God, we just abound in it, and always!
James 1:22 - "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves."
Prove ourselves, brethren, abundantly and always, to be workers of the Lord. This is our commandment and our goal in life. You have to know what the work of the Lord is to do it, and you find out what it is in the Word of God. Yet, it is not simply enough to know. We have to know, then do -- abundantly and always. Why? Because through Jesus Christ we can have victory over death.
"...knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."
One thing we know when we work for God -- we are working for the best purpose we could ever find. It's a spiritual purpose, it's an eternal purpose, and it's a godly purpose. I can't help but be reminded of the following verse.
2 Tim 1:12 - "For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."
Work for God will never be forgotten and the reward can never be equaled on earth. What is that reward? Eternal life. Why should we work for the Lord again? Because through Jesus Christ we can have victory over death.
1 Cor 15:58 should instruct each of us concerning our lives and gives us a God-given measuring stick by which we can "examine ourselves (2 Cor 13:5).
How do we measure up?
By Gregg Purcell
From Expository Files 5.9; September 1998