Begin this day knowing Christ is for you, God is with you, and the Holy Spirit lives in you. Grow tall into the truth of what it means to be a child of the living God. And, with this truth bubbling over and spilling out on those you meet today, give others the gift of believing them into the fulfillment of their possibilities, too.
Our labor, whatever it might be, is not meaningless or worthless because God gives it meaning and worth.
According to 1 Corinthians 15:58, we can have confidence in this truth, and this confidence inspires us to give ourselves fully to our work. We know that, in God’s future, the work we do will take on eternal significance. It will matter to God and will be well-used in God’s plans.
As people inspired by the hope of God’s future, we are to be “abounding” in God’s work. We “abound” in God’s work when we “give ourselves fully to it.” But “abounding,” especially given its usage elsewhere in Paul’s letters, also implies that God’s work is happening in us. We are able to give ourselves fully to God’s work only because God is working in us. God’s Spirit motivates and empowers us for all of this work. In a sense, 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because the Lord is already fully at work in you.”
What we see first in Genesis is reiterated through the Bible. The “work of the Lord” includes but is not limited to things like evangelism, discipleship, worship, and prayer. From a full biblical perspective, the “work of the Lord” encompasses all that we do to embody God’s purposes for us. It includes what we do for most of our waking lives, as we labor in our workplaces, raise our children, invest in our neighborhoods, and gather with God’s people for weekly worship.
1 Corinthians 15 reveals life beyond what can be found “under the sun.” In this chapter, human life matters. Physical life matters. Our bodies matter. But there is reality beyond material reality. There is more to life than the life we experience today. One day, in God’s future, “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (15:52).
In this Life for Leaders devotion, I want to focus on labor, that is, on the work we do. As I was thinking about what to write for today, I was reminded of a verse in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (15:58).
Defining your work is very specific to your context. Using my work as an example, that means 75% is church, 20% is home and 5% is other. Your work proportions will look different, but the important thing is to not limit your understanding of work to only that which you get paid for or have a title.
God is mysterious. That sentence is difficult for me to write. Writing that sentence is an act of surrender. It is an admission that I have to let some things be and trust God anyway. I cannot know the answers to all my questions about why God allows some things, yet seems to intervene in others. Apparently, I don’t need to know all the answers if my faith is meant to mean anything at all. The mystery, it would seem, is the habitat in which faith thrives and grows strong.
I would however like to offer a different perspective on the main goal of marketplace ministry. Could it be that God’s plan is to simply provide irrefutable evidence in the most public spaces of his Sovereignty, which would give every person and system the ability to clearly choose or reject his Lordship?
So what has been forgotten and lost? What can we learn from an older, biblical vision of human work? In today’s text, Paul picks up the original creation story imagery of human work as gardening. While Paul didn’t work in an actual garden, he saw his gospel work imaginatively within that framework.