Friday, April 6, 2007

A Christian View of Work 10: Our Labor in the Lord is Not in Vain

The Lord’s Work is not in vain.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

The answer to the ‘abel’, the fleetingness of life, is to live your life with reference to the One who is not fleeting. It is the resurrection of Jesus that makes it absolutely clear why living your life for the Lord transforms everything.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, 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. (1 Cor. 15:50-58)

If we trust in Jesus Christ, we will be raised. So everything we do in the Lord’s service is not in vain.

a. By working for the Lord, whether it be filing or telling someone the gospel, we are building his kingdom. That kingdom, unlike our filing system, will last forever. Our work is restored to be a proper exercise of the image of God. We once again display God’s eternal glory.

b. We will be raised. Our relationship with Christ will go on for ever. So anything that exercises that relationship is building an eternal relationship. So it too will last.

So even if nobody notices that we are working our hardest for the Lord, it is still an eternal work. For we are honoring the Lord who deserves honoring. We will eternally live to honor him.

Everything we do in the Lord’s service is not in vain. It’s not meaningless. That is why we need to do everything in the Lord’s service. So long as work remains worship of the Lord, it will not be in vain. In fact, as we heard in a recent Sunday night address, all that we do for the Lord is multiplied by the Lord by compound interest laying up a great deposit of praise for ever in heaven.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

Creation has been subjected to frustration not finally as a display of despair. The Lord has subjected it to frustration in hope. Frustration of this creation, and therefore of all work in this world proclaims a greater hope that our work is not in vain if it has been redeemed from futility by the one who is building an eternal city that will last for ever. If we are children of God through faith in Jesus’ death for us, where the curse we deserved has fallen, then we can rest secure that all our labor in the Lord will never be in vain. It will be used by the Lord to build a world that will never be touched by idolatry, frustration or decay.

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