From Your Pastor’s Heart
THEREFORE, MY BELOVED BROTHERS, BE STEADFAST, IMMOVABLE, ALWAYS ABOUNDING IN THE WORK OF THE LORD, KNOWING THAT IN THE LORD YOUR LABOR IS NOT IN VAIN. 1 CORINTHIANS 15:58
This verse, written by the apostle Paul for the church in Corinth (southern Greece) in the middle part of the 1st century BC, contains a powerful reminder about our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. The error that many believers make is considering our efforts to follow Christ and our adherence to Biblical teachings as labor “FOR” the Lord not “IN” the Lord. The difference in working for the Lord and in the Lord is dramatic and the application of the truth of this verse is transformative.
Labor “FOR” the Lord is a frustrating, exhausting, joyless process where:
I am laboring in my own strength to do my best to please the Lord.
I am laboring to do the right things for the Lord to earn my keep.
I am doing what I think is best in order to accomplish the Lord’s will.
I typically begin to question why I am doing all this if no one is noticing or the desired results are not evident.
When I labor “FOR” the Lord, the contexts of my efforts are my own personal background, abilities, intuition, and the impact of my present culture and community. The danger of laboring “FOR” the Lord is that when the results are not as I expected I am naturally disappointed. Another danger of laboring “FOR” the Lord is I tend to cling to the glory that results from my hard work.
Let us consider laboring “IN” the Lord and the impact that it has on the kingdom of God, the completion of the great task of testifying to the gospel of His grace, and the personal sense of fulfillment in becoming less so that He might become more. To labor “IN” the Lord is to abide in Him; His promised presence and His reliable strength.
Labor “IN” the Lord:
I choose Him over self, only wanting glory for God even if that means shame for me.
I am unconcerned with results for they are not my responsibility, they belong to the Lord.
I labor in the promises of scripture which tell me that it is “His energy that He powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:29)
When I labor “IN” the Lord I am living in the context of Him, His presence, His Word, His strength. I am not just doing my best, to earn my keep or to win God’s favor. I am emptying self, being filled to all fullness in Christ that I may live life holy and blameless in Him.
What about you? Are you laboring “FOR” Him or “IN” Him?
All for Him,