1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
I. THE NATURE OF THE DUTY HERE STATED. "The work of the Lord," i.e., —
1. The work in which the Lord Himself was employed. Here, Christian, behold thy model, thy motive, and thy honour. How does it stimulate the faithful servant to see his master labouring by his side; and what servant is he who can take ease or be idle while his lord is toiling in the field?
2. The work which the Lord has commanded. Besides the pursuit of our own personal salvation, we are enjoined to seek the advancement of Christ's cause.
3. The work in the results of which the Lord will be glorified. When, therefore, we propagate His gospel, and are successful in converting sinners, we collect His tribute and gather His reward.
4. The work to which the Lord alone can give success. "It is not by might or by power, but by His Spirit."
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS DUTY SHOULD BE PERFORMED.
1. Abundantly. It may be said of many sciolists that they half know everything, and of some Christians that they half do everything. This is in direct opposition to the Scripture, which requires us to do everything in the service of God with all our heart and soul and strength. Our fruit should not only be excellent in quality, but plenteous in quantity. This expression implies —
(1) That our exertions should be proportioned to our ability. "Unto whom much is given, from them much is required." Proportion is the great rule of man's accountability, both in giving and doing.
(2) That we eagerly embrace and seek out for opportunities of doing good.
(3) That we esteem it our privilege, and not our hardship, to do the work of the Lord.
2. Perseveringly. We must be steadfast and immoveable. These expressions seem to imply some opposition which will try our constancy. It will be tried —
(1) By the misapprehension of your motives and designs. But Raphael would not have altered the masterpieces of his pencil to please a blind critic, nor Handel his "Messiah" at the suggestion of one who was ignorant of music.
(2) By ingratitude. The world has not always known its best friends, nor should the world's best friends, on this account, become its enemies.
(3) By derision.
(4) By apparent want of success.
(5) By a spirit of lukewarmness. The rock which the fury of a thousand storms could not shake may waste away in time from some principle of decomposition concealed within itself.
III. THE MOTIVE BY WHICH IT IS ENFORCED.
1. It shall not be unrewarded. If, indeed, we were not permitted to look beyond the present world for our reward, we should find it here. The spirit of Christian zeal is a source of unfailing happiness to itself. Then there is a rich reward, which, after ripening through the years of time, we shall enjoy through the ages of eternity.
2. It shall not be unsuccessful The language of the text implies —
(1) Natural tendency. Such labour as I now enjoin — Bible and tract distribution, home and foreign missions, etc. — have a peculiar adaptation, under the blessing of God, to effect the conversion of sinners.
(2) Ultimate and general efficiency. The work of the Lord, with whatever local or temporary failures it may be attended, shall triumph eventually over every obstacle. The truth of God has declared it, and has given the promise into the hand of Omnipotence to be performed.
(J. Angell James.)
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?