1 Corinthians 15:55-58
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?…
"Wherefore" — taking these facts, truths, reasonings, "be ye steadfast," etc. Every new truth means a new work. No truth is given to man to be hoarded by him. One reason why many are always learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth is that they have no set intent and purpose to use truth. They want it for comfort simply, not to direct them along the road of duty. The leading ideas of our text are —
1. In every life there needs to be a restful centre if there is to be a wise and well-ordered activity. The ocean itself could not bring back into quiet and order its foaming waves if it had not a deep peace underneath. But in our day the question, "What shall I do next?" is asked before we have well finished that which went before; and so, much of our activity is merely consuming time. Therefore it is that the apostle says, "Be ye steadfast, unmoveable." Consider who it is that says this. It is the man of all others most intensely active; but his activity was all of a piece. It was animated by a single purpose — that of making known to men the truth that had come to us in Christ Jesus. In that he rested.
2. When the Eternal Father gave us Christ He gave us one who is pre-harmonised to our necessities. When the mind rests in Him it rests as the astronomer rests who has found his sun. For every heart there must be a centre of affection, for every mind a centre of light to which we can look, always and ever, without doubt and fear, without vacillation and variableness. Can it be that there is no one to meet that necessity? Wherever you find hunger you find food; wherever you find intelligence you find objects which appeal to it. In Christ Jesus, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, is God's answer to our need. In Him rest.
II. ACTIVITY. When you have attained rest in Christ then your activity will have an area large enough for the employment of all your faculties. As to time, we are to work "always." As to quantity, we are to "abound" in it. As to the kind of work, it is to be "the work of the Lord." There is room for every kind of work on which a man can. ask God's blessing. We must not limit the work of the Lord to that which is strictly ecclesiastical. Everything which does good to the bodies, minds, souls of men is the work of the Lord; and "they also serve who only stand and wait." But some form of Christian service is sure to follow a vigorous inward faith. Fill a man's mind with such truth as St. Paul has put into this chapter, and he will want to incorporate it in some way. Truth acts on the mind precisely as material food acts on the body. It either creates warmth and energy or it creates indigestion. I think that there can be no doubt that good, solid Biblical truth does not agree with some constitutions. Their mental digestion has been ruined by the ice-cream of rationalism and the luscious confections of an emotional and superstitious form of religion. But to these who can digest "strong meat," what nutriment there is in it! — what inward warmth it creates! what energy it generates! what varied activities ensue! — so that of such it may be said, "They are always abounding in the work of the Lord."
III. CONFIDENCE: "Forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." Every Christian worker needs, at some time or other, just these words. The apostle himself had been seemingly defeated again and again. Yet he was always confident. A man working along the lines of a true Christian effort can never work in vain. At the end of Christ's earthly life there was nothing to show but a small band of poor working men and a Cross. Yet that defeat, as we now see it, was the most splendid victory. And there are hundreds of men who, in doing the work of the Lord, have had to bear a heavy cross. I believe that many such cases will, in the judgment of the Master, have been victory. With the New Testament in my hand, I cannot believe in some of our methods of estimating the value of Church work. Arithmetical figures can never express spiritual results. We cannot introduce the spirit of ecclesiastical competition into our Church life without lowering our spiritual tone. When any of us work for the approval and applause of men rather than out of a feeling of service to God we shall have our reward, but it will never satisfy us. But if, seeing the excellency of Christian work as well as its necessity, we are willing to take any place that seems to need us, then we have a right to believe that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. God will be glorified; into ourselves there will come a character which shall adapt us to the next stage of life, and our souls will inevitably be influenced.
(Reuen Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?