Sometimes a beautiful meditation on Scripture comes from realizing which clauses in the preceeding passage a “therefore” is linked to. (This post is a follow up to this one.). If we isolate the “therefore” verse, or do not read with a humble mind, or read into the text a Pharisaical attitude (which is never used by the Spirit of God), we are easily discouraged by New Testament commands. Sometimes we wish there were no commands, no narrow road, no obedience of faith or faith working through love (Galatians 5:6; James 1-2). Reactions to such discouragement may vary, but some of these reactions can damage our own hearts worse than we realize. I want to encourage your today with a sample “journaling” through a command that may at times feel too weighty. Remember beforehand, His burden is light. This does not mean we will never “feel” any negative emotion, never grow weary, never long for rest, or even mere escape. His burden is light–He bore all the weight of our sin, and gave us His righteousness. In Christ we now carry something much lighter.
Now onto 1 Corinthians 15:58:
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain.
This is spoken to the whole church, not the elders or pastors. We, all members of the church, are to be in the work of the Lord, and not only involved in it–but abounding and steadfast. (deep breath). This is not a command to be strong enough on your own (we cannot be) nor is it a call to “buck up.” This is a call to trust in our Risen Lord, and His resurrection power in your life.
Now read through the chapter. Then read it again taking special note of verses 20, 21, 42-44, 49, 53, 56-58. “Therefore” means we must go back and understand the preceding ideas in order to learn what is intended by this call to be steadfast and immovable. (From the whole book, we remember this church had quite a few areas in which they needed discipline from Paul, and reminders about doctrine and beliefs, and how to carry on life together. This is not addressed to people who “have it all together,” but people who have faith in Christ.)
As I journal through I sometimes quote the verses, but sometimes write just the gist of them, and sometimes list out my own thoughts that correspond, and thoughts from other verses. So to encourage our hearts to want to abound, here is a list of meditations from these preceding verses:
- Christ has been raised from the dead! The firstfruits of what awaits us too! O His resurrection power!!!
- I am alive in Christ! Union with Christ, I am never alone, acting on my own.
- I will one day have a body that does not grow weary, and will never face discouragement. My hope is in Him, and is eternal (not temporal, not in “my best life now”), and brings joy and peace to me now, when I remember “this” is not ultimate.
- We will fully bear His image in that day! I will put on the “imperishable”–it is sure, because He is steadfast. He has promised, and this change will take place.
- Heaven is assured to me by His resurrection power, so today, I can cling to Him, and He will lavish His grace on me, and I will be steadfast, immovable in faith. We have an unshakable Kingdom, and a powerful compassionate King.
- I am still struggling with a sinful nature, which the ‘law’ taunts; but Jesus gives the victory–the temporal battles are not ultimate, they do not define me.
We can delight in this command, when we read the whole chapter, meditate on the ideas throughout, journal some thoughts and turn our apprehensions into prayers. We do not ask “how does this make me feel?” nor should we bring in presuppositions that are not found in Scripture. We can pray this command for ourselves and our church family with joy if our reaction to the command is “how, Lord? I’m not steadfast, I’m a mess. Teach me!” rather than “no! Legalism! We’re all a mess! Nobody is perfect, nobody is steadfast. I do not like this!”
Looking to Him, we can move from the desire to fight this command; meditating on His Word in humility will align our affections with His (this is part of the promised work of the Spirit in our hearts!). When we receive this Word from Jesus, and meditate on it, and pray through it, we also remember how much emphasis this same book places on love, and letting all our actions stem from His love dwelling in us. Thus we learn to obey in the power of His resurrection, and in love. Our Lord is perfect, and calls us to be steadfast in faith, looking to Him, abiding in His Word. This burden is light.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing your toil is not in vain!