Abound In The Work Of The Lord
By Rich Carmicheal
"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching and preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field’" (Matt. 9:35-38).
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58).
The Lord cares deeply for people who are physically and spiritually needy, and He knows that many people are ready to respond to His love for them. In order to reach these people with His love, the Lord desires that we join with Him in the work of His harvest field. He calls us to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…" (Matt. 28:19-20).
Jesus Himself was (and is) devoted to such work. He shared with His twelve disciples that His "food...is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work" (John 4:34). He made this statement in the midst of ministry in Samaria, as He led a Samaritan woman and the people of her town to faith in God. Indeed, the heart of His work was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and to this end He preached, taught, healed, encouraged and met all sorts of spiritual and physical needs. He "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). He lived and died to help others come to know God.
It is not surprising, therefore, that He draws our attention to the harvest and the work to be done. We are His hands, His feet and His voice – His instruments to reach the lost and to build up the saved. And the need for His work through us seems as urgent as ever. Like many others, you may sense we are living in a most significant hour. The world is changing, and troubles and pressures are mounting on more and more people. There are growing indications that time is short, and as God’s people we must make the most of every opportunity. Jesus’ statement recorded in John 4:35 seems as relevant as ever: "Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’"
Think of the people in your very own family who need the Lord, or think of those in your community, in your country, or in other nations. And think of believers who are in need of encouragement and help that you can offer. What would the Lord have you do today and in the days ahead to share His love with them, both in word and in deed?
Perhaps you are already deeply involved in the Lord’s work. You may be on the front lines, pressing the battle in dangerous enemy territory. You may be stretching yourself to the limit physically and spiritually, even to the point of risking your health and even your life. You may be giving generously of your time, energy and resources for the benefit of others. Or perhaps you are doing very little work for the Lord. Maybe you are holding back because of fear, or sin, or selfishness, or apathy or because you are uncertain what to do or how to do it. Whatever your particular situation is, I encourage you in the days ahead to take to heart the Apostle Paul’s admonition to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). To help toward that end, I invite you to consider three truths embedded in that passage:
1. The Work of the Lord Can Be Hard
When the Apostle writes that your "toil" or "labor" is not in vain, he uses a Greek word (kopos) that can refer to everyday work, but often carries the sense of hard work that can lead to weariness. For example, its verb form is used in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus invites those who "labor and are heavy laden" to come to Him. It is also used in John 4:6 to describe how Jesus was wearied or tired from a journey. In Luke 5:5 it describes how the disciples had "toiled" or "worked hard" all night and caught no fish. It is the kind of work that can require special strength and perseverance (see Col. 1:29 and Rev. 2:2-3).
When the Apostle Paul encourages God’s people to always abound in the work of the Lord, he is in no way saying the work will be easy. Though doing God’s work brings much joy, Paul knew full well that the work could be very hard, and he himself was a model for hard work (1 Cor. 15:10; 1 Thes. 2:9; Acts 20:34-35). So we should not be surprised that doing the Lord’s work can be difficult and require perseverance. No matter whether your work involves preaching, teaching, giving, praying, evangelizing, leading, showing hospitality, encouraging or serving (the list goes on and on), you can expect that the work will at times be very demanding.
2. The Lord Supplies the Resources for His Work
In light of how difficult the Lord’s work can be, how is it possible to be "always abounding" in it? The answer is that the Lord supplies every resource we need to do His work. As the Apostle Paul states in his second letter to the Corinthians: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work" (2 Cor. 9:8). We can abound in the Lord’s work because the Lord’s grace abounds in us! And not only does His grace abound in us, He Himself abides in us. Just as Jesus could declare, "…it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work" (John 14:10), and just as Paul could declare, "To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me" (Col. 1:29), so we can rely on the presence of the Lord to work in and through us. As part of His commission to us to go and make disciples of all nations, Jesus promises to be with us always (Matt. 28:20). He is faithful to encourage our hearts and strengthen us in every good deed and word (2 Thes. 2:17).
Are you lacking anything for the Lord’s work? Perhaps you lack courage? Consider how the Lord gave courage to Peter and John, "unschooled, ordinary men," to continue in the work of the Lord even though they faced threats from the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:13ff.). Do you lack boldness? Consider how the disciples prayed and "were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" (Acts 4:31). Do you lack wisdom for the work of God? Then ask Him, and it will be given to you (Jas. 1:5). I have already mentioned the grace, strength, encouragement and power that He gives. Of course, if we had to depend on our own resources, we would quickly burn out and not accomplish (and probably not even attempt) anything of lasting value. But with His resources we can do all things. In fact, Jesus teaches: "…anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (John 14:12-13). We can abound in the work of the Lord because we have His Presence with us, His powerful Name, and the power of His message (Rom. 1:16). We can fully expect that as we remain in Him, and He remains in us, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5; cf. Phil. 1:22; Col. 1:10).
Is the Lord calling you to step out in faith in His work? If so, then as you do you can expect to see the provision of God and the power of God at work in you and through you! Of course, not everyone will respond to the life of God at work through you. But even in these cases, the Lord’s grace in your life will be sufficient.
3. The Work of the Lord Matters
The Apostle Paul writes that you can be confident that your work in the Lord is not in vain. Many things in life that you can invest time and energy into carry no lasting significance. A Day is coming when each man’s "work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work" (1 Cor. 3:13). A question we should ask ourselves is what work in our lives will survive that time of testing? Paul assures us that the work of the Lord does have lasting consequence – it is not in vain. Christ died, was buried, was raised from the dead and is coming again. The work we do in sharing His life and love with others matters now and will matter for all of eternity!
One of the reasons your work is not in vain is because it matters very much to God. As the writer of Hebrews declares: "God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them" (Heb. 6:10). Do you see how personal this is to God? As you work and help His people, it is as though you are showing love to Him. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ teaching in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in which He shares that whatever we do for one of the least of His brothers, we do for Him (Matt. 25:40). Because of how much your work means to the Lord, He promises to reward you. As the Apostle Paul writes, "…each will be rewarded according to his own labor" (1 Cor. 3:8). In the Book of Revelation, Jesus makes this promise: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Rev. 22:12).
Your work for the Lord also obviously matters to those to whom you minister. When the Lord returns, will you not greatly rejoice over those who turned to Christ and were strengthened in Christ through your words and service toward them? Notice how the Apostle Paul anticipated the joy of that day as he considered the lives his ministry impacted: "For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy" (1 Thes. 2:19-20). And we can rejoice that our work not only touches the lives of individuals, but that it also helps build up the body of Christ in unity, in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph. 4:12-13).
But the greatest blessing of all is that our work for the Lord brings glory to Him. Just as Jesus rejoiced that He brought His Father glory on earth by completing the work His Father had given Him to do (John 17:4), so we can rejoice that our Father receives glory as we complete the work He has entrusted to us (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12). We are, after all, "…God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works" (Eph. 2:10). Indeed, Jesus gave Himself in order to redeem us and "to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:14). What a privilege it is to be "an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared for any good work" (2 Tim. 2:21). As we are faithful to carry out His work, He is honored and glorified.
Press On In His Work!
So if you are already pouring yourself into the work of the Lord, press on! If you have grown tired and weary from the demanding work, look to One who is faithful to give strength to the weary and power to the weak (Isa. 40:29). He can refresh you, restore you and renew you in your walk with Him and in the work you do for Him. Persevere and finish well. As Paul shared with Archippus: "See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord" (Col. 4:17). In doing so, you can anticipate the day when you can join with the Apostle Paul in saying, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day..." (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
And if, for whatever reason(s), you are not pouring yourself into the Lord’s work, it is time to step out in faith, and begin to trust the Lord to bear fruit through your life. Too much is at stake to not immerse yourself in the work of the Lord. It is time to use whatever gift(s) you have received to serve others, faithfully administering the grace God has given you. It is time to speak as one speaking the very words of God and to serve with the strength God provides (1 Pet. 4:10-11). Again, consider the words of Jesus: "I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest" (John 4:35). With God’s presence, God’s resources, and God’s message at work in you and through you, imagine the difference you can make in the eternal well-being of others.
We Invite You to Co-labor with Herald of His Coming
The staff of Herald of His Coming thanks the Lord for the work He has entrusted to this ministry. What a special privilege it is to join together with Herald friends to print and distribute salvation and revival materials that help lead the lost to Christ and help strengthen the saints. The hope of this ministry is to reach more people with the Lord’s message. In order to do this, additional Herald friends will need to offer prayer support and financial support. Perhaps you might seek the Lord to see if He would have you partner with this ministry in the work of sending out Gospel literature. If so, we are confident that many people will benefit from your support. In keeping with this, we once again offer our heartfelt appreciation to those of you who are already supporting the Herald ministry. May the Lord continue to bless many people through your prayers and gifts!
No matter what your level of involvement is with this ministry, we will be blessed to hear from you. We invite you to write to a local address printed at the bottom of page 10, or to the main office at:
Herald of His Coming
P.O. Box 279
Seelyville IN 47878