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.
I Corinthians 15:58
Do you ever feel like quitting on God? Maybe you'll keep going to church, but you're ready to throw in the towel on everything else. You're tired of sharing the gospel with that family member or friend over and over again only to be rejected. You're tired of prepping Bible study lessons for hours on end only to teach it to people who don't get it and couldn't seem to care any less. You're tired of serving behind the scenes only to have someone else take the credit. You've reached the end of yourself and you're done, ready to give up.
It isn't just church staff members and missionaries who feel this way. I work with many believers who give hours to volunteer ministry every week. They don't get paid to minister but they do it on top of their responsibilities at work, at home, and within their extended families. They get discouraged just like me. I bet that sometimes you do too.
When we are tempted to give up we should consider Paul's encouragement in today's verse. We should strive to "be steadfast and immovable" in our service to the Lord. In the original language the word 'steadfast' could mean that a person was immovable, firm, or even sitting (Blue Letter Bible). In other words, we should persevere in doing good so resolutely that we are absolutely unchanged by the challenges and discouragements that come our way.
God acknowledges that ministry is hard. The verse says that we can know our "toil" is not in vain. That word 'toil' in the original language can mean "intense labor united with trouble and toil" (Blue Letter Bible). I have to admit that some days quote captures exactly how my ministry feels, but we shouldn't give up. Why? Because we know our toil is not in vain. It isn't fruitless. How do we know this?
Our hope in the resurrection gives us the strength to endure and even press on. You see, Paul puts this verse at the end of a long section on our hope in the resurrection. This verse is the conclusion or application that he draws from the precious truth that all believers will one day be raised in victory.
We may feel as though we are losing every battle now, but one day we will leave all of this toil behind. One day the seemingly endless struggle will give way to truly endless victory. Then we will receive the reward for all our labor. On that day even death will be swallowed up in victory.
We dare not give in to discouragement now for fear of missing out on any of the reward later. So if you are discouraged, if you are thinking about quitting, or have already done so; take heart. Remind yourself of the coming victory and press on in faith knowing that your toil is not in vain. One day you will reap your reward. There may be no sign of the harvest now, but it is coming. In this world or the next your reward will come.
Father, help us to press on in faithful service. Give us the strength to walk in the good works You have prepared in advance for us to do. And sanctify our efforts to your glory, to advance your kingdom. Be pleased with us. May we be a blessing to You and Your children. In Jesus' name, Amen.
For further reading...
- I Corinthians 15- Read the passage in context.