1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
I. THE CHRISTIAN HAS A LORD. We all know that we have in Christ a Saviour, and we realise and live upon this every day. But we do not so constantly bear in mind that because He is our Saviour He is our Lord. And yet read Romans 14:7, etc. Israel, the type of God's people, were redeemed from a service to a service; they were redeemed from the brick kilns of Egypt to be the grateful servants of the God who had delivered them. And so with the Christian. The same blood which speaks our peace with God is the ransom which buys us back to loyal service to our Master. Paul chose as his highest title — "A servant of Jesus Christ." "Whose I am, and whom I serve."
II. THE CHRISTIAN'S LORD HAS A WORK FOR HIM TO DO. How solemnly is this brought before us in our Lord's parable of the talents! "He left unto every man his work"; not to some of them, but "to every man." So we find, that when men are really converted to God they become working men. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the effect which the gospel had upon them when he speaks of their work of faith; not talk of faith and labour of love: not your mere emotion, excitement of love. We would not so preach as to make you imagine that you are to enjoy no sweet and tranquil emotions; but we would most solemnly warn you against that religion which is the result of mere feeling and excitement, and we would solemnly call upon you if you profess Christ as the Lord, to work for Him. Oh! it makes one's heart sink to see how many there are with time and energy, which is frittered away for vanity, for the world. How few bees there are, and how many butterflies! The bee enjoys the "shining hour," but improves it also. The Christian has an aim, which is the aim of every day, week, year, of his whole life — the very same end which is before the archangel who stands highest to the throne of God, viz., the glory of God; and we may well thank God when by promoting the salvation of the sinner or a little child we are at the same time promoting the glory of that God who made him, and the glory of that Saviour who bought him with His blood. How strikingly your Lord Himself is an example of devotedness to the great work for which He came into the world! As a child He said, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" In His mid career, "My meat," He says, "is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." And then at the end of His career, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." Here is not only your Lord, but your pattern.
III. THE CHRISTIAN IS TO BE ABUNDANT IN CHRIST'S WORK.
1. This expression not only seems to imply much labour, but a cheerfulness of heart in doing our work. Oh! what a thing it is to do one's work cheerfully — to recollect that we are not to be doling out to Christ as little as we possibly can. This was the case with the early Christians and with the apostle himself (ver. 10; Romans 16:12; Philippians 4:3).
2. And what is to give us the motive for this cheerful and this abounding exertion? (Galatians 2:2). And when once that motive gets into the heart there is no sacrifice, no labours too great for it to carry you through.
3. Here is a question for us all. What action can we put our hands upon now, and say, in the sight of God, that action was done from love to Christ? We could have no difficulty in proving that we love our parents, that we love our children, etc.
IV. THE CHRISTIAN'S WORK FOR CHRIST IS A CONSTANT WORK. "Always abounding." We are not to be Christians by fits and starts. Some Christians are full of activity and effort one day, when they have taken up something new; but when the novelty has gone off there is a collapse. There must be a perseverance in every work we undertake for Christ, and there must be an endeavour to have Christ's glory continually before us. There is no work for Christ which deserves so much of Christian per- severance as the work of Sunday-school teachers. Young persons especially are apt to form an unreal view of the work they are going to undertake. They think there is something beautiful, romantic, in feeding the lambs of Christ's flock. And when they enter the Sunday-school, what have they got? Perhaps a class of idle, wayward, fretful, dull children; and they find that the feeding of the lambs of Christ's flock is a far heavier trial of their Christian principle and their Christian faith than they had any idea of. And what is the result? How many are there of those who, having entered the work under mistaken notions of it, are going on in it without throwing their hearts into it, and consequently without efficiency! Go into Sunday-school after Sunday-school, and see those six or eight little children sitting down there: and they are doing nothing. Why not? There is no teacher present. He is not kept away by the providence of God; but it was not convenient or pleasant for him to come that morning; and the little children go home, and are constrained to report to their parents that they were at school, and that there was no one there to teach them. Conclusion: Do not think I am not recognising what God has done by means of many faithful teachers; but I have long ago come to this conviction, that the teacher makes the class, and consequently that teachers make the school. And therefore the work really is a solemn responsibility. If you enter on that work you are bound to do everything in your power — in the spirit of prayer, invoking the aid of that Holy Spirit without whom all effort is worthless — to bring the children to Christ.
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?