Your Greatest Contribution
by Rebekah Bush, guest blogger
1 Corinthians 15:58- So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
This verse has been taped to my kitchen window above my sink for a couple of weeks now. I was finishing reading through 1 Corinthians when it jumped off the page to me one morning. Does that ever happen to you? I usually try to pull myself out of my bed early before the kids wake up for a quiet moment with just coffee, God and His Word and some birds that interrupt the silence with their backyard music. And while I don’t feel this every day, some days, it’s so clear to me what God wants me to see and hear in His Word.
I think this verse stuck out to me so profoundly for two reasons:
1. We live in a culture where it is popular to be anything but strong and immovable.
2. Because as a mom with a house full of 4 young boys, so many of the things I do daily can feel useless.
Before I go into the verse that struck me, I think it’s important to know why the so is there at the beginning of the verse? What this verse says is based in light of whatever comes before it. Here, the beginning of the chapter talks all about the gospel- how it is of first importance (vs. 3) and reminding the Corinthians to hold fast to it. Paul then addresses one of the things that was dividing the church at the time- differing views on the resurrection. And then caps the whole conversation off with a beautiful set of verses on the victory we have because of Jesus- “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So (in light of all this), my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
I imagine the Corinthians also lived in a culture where being strong and immovable in what they believed would not be so popular. Corinth had a reputation for sexual immorality, religious diversity, and corruption, and all of these things greatly influenced the church there, causing all kinds of divisions. Sound familiar? In this letter, Paul calls them not only to be united as one body but to stand firm despite the changing winds of their culture. The ESV says to be steadfast. Paul uses this same Greek word in his letter to the Colossians, calling them to be “stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.” (Col. 1:23)
As believers, we are called to the same steadfastness today- to be strong and immovable. Notice that all of this is because we are saved through the gospel. Also, notice it does not say we are called to strong-headed and argumentative or to go toe to toe with everyone we meet who opposes us.
He follows up the call for strength by telling the Corinthians, and by extension believers today, to ALWAYS work enthusiastically for the Lord because you KNOW that nothing you do for the Lord is EVER useless. The word for work here means labor, toil or hardship, and useless means empty or in vain. So essentially, we are to embrace hardship and toil for the Lord because we KNOW it isn’t empty work.
We know from other passages in the New Testament that all things (Colossians 3:17 and 3:23-24, 1 Corinthians 10:31)— whether seemingly meaningful or of little importance can be done for the Lord and to His glory. If you are a follower of Jesus, you live for a higher purpose, whether you are running a large company or a small army of little people or just slugging it out somewhere in the middle in a career, you never imagined.
Maybe your daily work looks like mine- schooling and raising a pack of boys, constantly feeding hungry bellies and endless amounts of laundry, or perhaps your life is entirely different. The details aren’t essential because we can all get into a rut of feeling like what we do makes no difference, but God’s Word reminds us that when we offer even the most redundant tasks up to the Lord and work as if working for Him, we can find meaning in the little parts of life. It’s in the daily laying down of ourselves, the joyful service of others whether at home or out in the community that our character is shaped to be more and more like Jesus.
Be encouraged! God can use a lifetime of laundry, feeding people, opening your home, sharing your things, showing up at your job, and a whole bunch of other seemingly small choices to greatly impact entire lives.
As a mom, Andy Stanley’s wise words frequently ring in my ears, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” But the truth is that whether you are a parent or not, your greatest contribution to the Kingdom may not be something you accomplish but faithfulness in hard work right where God has you today.