Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (I Corinthians 15:58 NKJV)
If ever a person should have been discouraged, It was Jesus. His best miracles were misunderstood, sometimes ascribed to the devil. He taught and those who listened often would not believe. He only had twelve followers and at times they were so dull, thick-headed, and slow to believe. Sometimes he despaired as to why it took so much and so long. When he told them repeatedly about his suffering and death, they did not understand. One of his own followers betrayed him with a kiss. One of his followers that appeared strong denied him three times. The rest deserted him and went into hiding. The cross he faced alone, abandoned by his Father, his only source of strength. So he cried out the first lines of Psalm 22, a Psalm which speaks profound discouragement.
But the resurrection came, and all that turned around. The world was changed, and his labor was not in vain.
That is Jesus—now, what about Paul?
Paul seems to be one of the kings of discouragement. “Paul began with a very stringent education as a pharisee only to discover his education was pointed in the wrong direction. He actually began persecuting the very truth and movement he sought. Then in the process of being converted, he became blind. After regaining his vision, he discovered he had become a fugitive escaping by a basket over a city wall. He changed sides, but now his own side, the Christians thought him suspicious. His own brothers and sisters, the Jews, with which he was raised, were now his enemies. In Tarsus, his hometown, he was rejected and beaten. He wrote “I have worked harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked…” He struggled with a thorn in his flesh, which was probably some incurable disease. His friends deserted him. Others would come to the places he preached, and by not being a strong preacher, those others would distort the very truth he traveled miles to bring. The list is endless, but yet…
But yet his work has remained some 2000 years. We know him as the greatest missionary in Christian history, and our lives are impacted daily by his writings. What was the secret to his resilience?”
He knew there is a resurrection and because of the resurrection, our labor is not in vain. You see, even though we do not see it, Paul’s point here is there is nothing we do for the Lord that is in vain. Whether it be serving our children and cooking them dinner, serving at work and being a faithful employee or boss, learning and preparing for a career, to loving our husbands and wives faithfully—what we do for the glory of God will never be pointless. That which is done to the glory of God has its eternal consequences, the resurrection guarantees it.
May the Blessings of the LORD be with you today and always. Stay tuned for the conclusion next week. Thank you for your continued readership and support.….Blessings and Peace!
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