1 Corithinans 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
My life verse. Pretty much the first verse that I really spent time committing to memory and pondering for hours and days about what it means to me, and what it means to followers of Christ. I still ponder this verse more than any other verse.
Standing on its own, the verse can speak for itself. As we consider what we are to do in our lives, there are three basic principles to guide us. First, we are to be steadfast and focused on our work. We are to give ourselves fully to that work. And we are to have confidence that our work serves a purpose.
As we consider the work we do for the Lord, we are to stand firm. We are to have confidence in what we are doing, and would should not be easily moved off of what we are doing. We should let nothing move us. When we feel the call of the Lord upon us, we are to do it steadfastly and without deviation. This is not to say that we are to the same thing forever, but it is to say that the work we are doing at this moment is what we should focus on.
This is a tough path to follow even in the best of times when we have clear guidance from the Lord. How much more difficult it is when times are uncertain and we are not hearing from the Lord! And how much more difficult it is in a time such as this, when the things that have long been our foundation feel so uncertain and insecure. Nevertheless, the Lord has work for us to do. It is likely not the same as it was 4 months ago, it might seem less (or more) than what we did before, but it is what the Lord has put forward for us at this moment. We should embrace it, we should stand firm, and we should not be swayed easily from that work.
Whatever that work is at this moment, we should give ourselves fully to it. This does not mean we abandon all else and only do this work, but we are to focus on this work, to do it the best that we can in the circumstances that we find ourselves. And we should do it the best that we can with the resources that we have. Resources that may include time resources, financial resources, family resources, whatever it is that we can draw upon to do the work of the Lord. Again, the resources that we have to do this work might be different than it was 4 years ago, and the “output” might look different, but that does not mean we are giving ourselves any less fully to the work we have before us.
We should take great comfort in knowing that this labor that we are doing in the Lord is not in vain. Why is this? We should know that it is not in vain if it is the labor that the Lord has put before us. There is a purpose for the labor, even if it is not clear what it is at the time to us, it is clear to the Lord.
But the other amazing aspect of this verse, and why we know labor for the Lord is not in vain, is the “Therefore” at the beginning of verse. As is often taught in Bible classes, you should ask what the “therefore” is there for. In this scripture, it is the very foundation of our faith. For 57 verses in 1 Corinthians, Paul lays out foundation of the Resurrection. We are saved by the Gospel, to ignore that is to believe in vain (v. 2). The death of Christ for our sins is the first importance (v. 3). And because Christ has risen from the dead, our faith is not in vain (v. 20). The Resurrection is coming for all of us.
Paul lays this out for 57 verses. Therefore - because of the truth Paul has written for these 57 verses – that Christ died for our sins, that Christ rose from the dead, and that we too will rise from the dead – there must be some sort of a response.
THEREFORE, because of this truth, the least we can do is to steadfastly, and without wavering, do the work the Lord has placed before us. We can give ourselves fully to this work and know that it is not in vain. Christ has conquered death, our Resurrection will be coming, let us serve the Lord fully here on earth until that time.