The subject of work is brought up more than six hundred times in the Bible. God views work as an honorable and desirable thing, and in I Corinthians 15 (while Paul is dealing with some resurrection doctrine issues), he concludes in verse 58 that we should always abound in the work of the Lord. Paul discusses the Lord’s work at least four times in Titus, and in Matthew 5:16, Jesus encourages us to let our light shine in the works we do, glorifying the Father.
A Scriptural Work
The term glory carries with it an ideas of being magnified, being honored and revered. Any of our efforts must be in harmony with God’s truth if they are to truly honor Him according to Colossians 3:17. Also, in John 4:34, Jesus claims that His mission is to do God’s will, and Matthew 7:21 warns that honoring God on any terms but His is vanity. This is applicable both in public service and in private.
A Motivated Work
In our work, we should consider the motivations that drive us, and gratitude toward God should be central to the motivations we care. Gratitude brings about humility, and, in I Corinthians 15:9-10, Paul expresses his humility and gratitude in light of his calling and God’s grace – driving him to greater direction and resolve. TIme and again in his writing, Paul expresses gratitude for God’s role in his life, and that thankfulness is a definitive motivator in Paul’s life.
Faith and trust should also be primary motivators. In II Timothy 1:12, Paul expresses great faith and trust in His God, and Galatians 2:20 expresses the faith by which Paul lives. Paul does not go through the motions here. He knows his labor is not in vain, and he presses on faithfully due to his trust in God.
A sincere desire to bring others to Christ should also drive our actions. I Corinthians 9:19-22 records Paul writing that he will try by all means to save those he can, and II Timothy 2:10 continues this theme. Romans 9:1-5 contains a heartfelt expression of Paul’s deep desire to save others – expressing a willingness to give up his own soul if it could save everyone else.
We must finally be able to see the unseen. II Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul lists many of the terrible things that have happened to him, but they have not brought him to give up. II Corinthians 4:16-5:1 reveals that he can endure these things through those eternal things that he cannot see now. If we can only consider this world, we will be unable to make choices that align with God. We have to be able to see beyond this temporary world.
An Abundant Work
I Corinthians 15:58 describes the congregation’s work as abounding, and the Greek word here carries an idea of being above and beyond expectations. It is used in Matthew 5:20 where Jesus encourages His listeners to exceed in righteousness beyond the Pharisees. Our efforts should go above and beyond others. Also, the word occurs in Luke 15, during the parable of the wasteful child, and in verse 17, the son reflects upon the rations his father’s servants have – enough and to spare. They have above and beyond what they need, and our work should be enough and to spare for God. We should not be trying to meet a minimum requirement. Finally, it is in Mark 15:14 where the people cry out exceedingly to crucify Christ. It is more than they had done before.
Returning to I Corinthians 15:58, we cannot rest on past successes. We have to make a sincere effort to continually improve, going beyond what we feel is expected of us. We should always be working to accomplish more for our Creator.
Our work must be zealously engaged in, scriptural, and motivated properly to truly glorify God. In John 9:4, as His disciples are discussing an academic issue, Christ admonishes them to work while there is still time. We don’t know when our night will come, but we do know that God expects us to do what we can while we have time and opportunity to do so.
lesson by Tim Smelser