1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
(to the young): —
I. OUR WORK. Work is the law of the universe. Man is the only idler. God works in nature, providence, and grace. The law of the Church is work. Our work must begin with ourselves. It is very much easier to recommend religion to others than it is to secure it ourselves. Religion, like charity, must begin at home.
1. "Be steadfast," settled, decided. "Unstable as water thou shalt not excel."(1) That is the weak place with thousands of young men and women. They are tossed about by every wind, halting between two opinions. And remember, the man who has not decided is decided not to be a Christian.
(2) You must decide yourself. Your mother can plead for you, but she cannot decide for you. God Himself cannot decide. Christ says, "I have died for you." The Spirit says, "I have striven for you"; heaven and earth are waiting for you. God help you to say, "His people shall be my people, and their God my God."
2. Having got right, keep right — "unmoveable." That is not easy work. You have mighty foes. You are bound for the kingdom, and the devil is bound to hinder you if he can. The world comes in. What are you to do? You are on the rock —
(1) Now fortify yourself — "add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge," etc.; build these all round you, and then when the sweep of the wave comes you will be "unmoveable."(2) Treasure the promises. Faith must have God's Word to stand upon.
(3) Read carefully the history of God's dealings with His people. Some people are all promises, but God is a performing God. Read the record outside the book, for God has not left off working.
(4) Keep up your close union with God. "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Do not be content with a second-hand religion; it does not wear well. If a man has once tasted honey, all the scientific men in the world cannot persuade him that it is not sweet.
3. Care for others. The Christian religion is the determined and constant enemy of selfishness. Did Jesus teach us to pray, "take me to heaven"? No. "Thy kingdom come." The work of the Lord is the same kind of work that Jesus did, who left us an example that we should tread in His steps. "He went about doing good." The Church is the body of Christ, and we as members of that body must ask, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Some people seem to fancy that they cannot be doing the work of the Lord unless they get into a pulpit or take a Bible-class. Jesus fed the hungry, comforted the sorrowful, healed the sick, saved the lost. Everything that is for the good of man is the work of the Lord. Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, said that the work of the Lord was to make earth like heaven and every man like God. Now, set to work at home; try to make your home like heaven. Practise good temper. Do everything you can, remembering that you are Christ's representative. Do you know of a young man out of work? Try to get him a shop. There is a poor fellow going wrong; now you try and get him to sign the pledge.
II. HOW ARE WE TO DO THIS WORK?
1. Heartily, "abounding." We are not hirelings; we are sons and daughters. We serve Him not grudgingly or of necessity, but our hearts are in our word. Not only are we not hirelings, but we are not Jews. They were surrounded by a network of law; but we are under love, and love does not want commands — it only wants opportunity. Under the dominion of love you are not asked for an Eight Hours Bill. Love can never do enough. Think of a mother with an Eight Hours Bill!
2. "Always abounding" — in youth, in manhood, in old age. Not spasmodic. Some of our people are rockets. You hear nothing of them except when some revival is on. Then you think they are going to take the world by storm; but in a month you cannot find them anywhere.
III. THE REWARD. It is not in vain.
1. It will make you strong. How is the arm made strong? By putting it in a sling? No; by using it. Whom do you go to when you want money? Not to the man who never gives, but to the man who is always giving.
2. It will make you happier. I have heard wives say they dread their husbands being out of work because then they are always grumbling and out of temper; but when there is plenty of work they are all right. So it is with religion.
3. You will have an exceeding great reward by and by. Christ will never forget a kindness. "I was hungry and you fed Me," etc. "Enter into My joy, and sit down on My throne!"
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?