What do you do all day? Do you work in an office, doing the same tasks over and over each day? Are you a ministry worker, wondering if you are making a difference for Christ , or if anyone is really listening? Do you stay at home with your children, cleaning up after them only to have them make another mess 5 minutes later? Are you feeling unappreciated, bored, or like the things you do are meaningless? Be encouraged, because the Bible says that your labor is not in vain!
In the New King James Version of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “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.” Now, if you’ve read some of my previous Morning Devotions, you know I like to break down vocabulary and define things to dig into the meaning of the passages. So, let’s work through the words of this scripture!
Steadfast has 5 definitions according to dictionary.com. The first one is “fixed in direction; steadily directed.” This one speaks to me of knowing where you are going and staying on the path to get there. Just as we should be in the Lord; keeping our eyes on Him and not straying off the path He’s taking us down. It also relates to things like setting goals for our work, and then staying on task until we complete them.
The second definition is “firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person.” This particular word in this particular Bible verse tells us to be firm in our purpose for what we do. Firm in our resolution to do the things we should do. Be firm in our faith, and in our attachment to Jesus!
The third definition says, “unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.” We are told to not waiver in these things, but rather to be steady in them.
I don’t believe the fourth definition applies here, as it says its one relating to an institution or a state of affairs. However, the fifth definition does, saying, “firmly fixed in place or position.” I am reminded of the parable of the wise and foolish builders. The house built on the rock was firmly fixed in place. We will be the same if we fix ourselves on the Lord and build our lives from there. Including the work we are doing with our lives.
Immovable has many definitions as well. The general idea is that it means “incapable of being moved.” It makes the most sense in this context to mean that we should not be able to be moved from our place with the Lord. Specifically when it comes to our purpose and our goals as we do our work for the Lord. Steadfast and immovable are considered synonyms. If you are unwavering and fixed in place, you will also be immovable.
“Abounding in the work of the Lord”
The definitions of abounding are, “to occur or exist in great quantities or numbers.” “To be rich or well supplied” and “to be filled.” Therefore, this phrase in this scripture tells us to do lots of work for the Lord. We need to be well supplied with and filled with the work of the Lord!
What is the work of the Lord, you ask? Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” The works of the Lord, or good works, are tasks God has already prepared for us to do. They are things that help others and/or glorify Him.
In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul gives instruction about caring for widows. In verse 10 he goes into some specifics for things considered to be good works. He includes, “if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.” Obviously, given the way he ends the sentence, this is not an exhaustive list. In John 10:32 Jesus says, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father.” The things that Jesus did, such as feeding people, teaching them, and praying for them are also good works. Those are the types of things He wants us to do!
Here are some other things I want to point out that scripture tells us to do, and are therefore good works:
- Believing in and following Jesus (John 6:28-29)
- Providing for your family (1 Tim 5:8)
- Being kind to and helping the poor (Proverbs 19:17, James 2:15-16)
- Setting a good example (Matt 5:16, Hebrews 10:24, Titus 2:7-8)
- Doing everything you do as for the Lord (Colo 3:23-24)
- Being willing to give and share with others (1 Tim 6:18)
- Simply doing the right thing, as the Word and the Spirit prompts us to do it (James 4:17)
“Your Labor is not in Vain”
The idiom “in vain” in the context of this verse means “without effect or avail; to no purpose.” We are told that when we remain fixed in our direction and unable to be moved, it does have a purpose. When we abound in the works of the Lord, it will have an effect on us and those around us. Even when we can’t see the effect it has. Even when we sometimes lose sight of the purpose.
A few other verses in the Bible that promise us that when we do God’s work our labor is not in vain are:
- “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
- “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9
- “Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” 1 Corinthians 3:8
Whew! I threw a whole lot of scripture and language at you today! I hope that you are encouraged by all of it. Because every time you love on your children, you are doing good works and will be rewarded. When you set a good example for your coworkers, you are doing the work of the Lord and it does have purpose. When you pray for people, when you teach them about God, when you give to the poor, and provide for the needs of your family members, God sees it. It will have a positive effect on this world and you will reap what you’ve sown. With that hope of being rewarded for being steadfast and immovable in your work, you can still rejoice in it when it gets difficult, and not lose heart.
I have been praying this verse over my family and I for the past week or so. I pray that we remain steadfast and immovable. That we will have many opportunities to do the Lord’s work, and that we are obedient to take those opportunities! I’ve also prayed that we remember our labor is not in vain, so we don’t get discouraged. Maybe you could pray the same over your family and yourself in the coming week?
Have you gotten discouraged in doing the work of the Lord? Have you grown weary of being steadfast and immovable? Would you like prayer? Please share with me in the comments or send me an email!