Here is my December newsletter article written to the church I love:
Beloved, I’ve had a promise sloshing around in my mind and heart this last year that has provided substantial encouragement to me. I’ve rested in this promise almost daily. The promise comes from the end of 1 Corinthians 15. After exulting in the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul makes this assertion: “Thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then, based on the reality of the gospel, he gives this massively encouraging promise in verse 58: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Because Christ has won the victory, we can be confident that our work in the Lord is not wasted.
All the experts say that 2 years into a church plant is about the time when people get weary and the initial excitement wears off. Now, more than ever, we must find encouragement and hope in this promise (and hundreds like it). Our job is to be steadfast (consistent). Our job is to be immovable (not wavering). Our job is to be always abounding in the Lord’s work. And most importantly, our job is to know something. Paul says we must know that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.
Think about two similar promises. First, Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” We are commanded not to grow weary and we are given a promise to help us not grow weary. “In due season” means that we cannot control the outcome of our labors. God controls the reaping and we must trust His wisdom as to when He decides the harvest should come. And notice the condition, “we will reap if we do not give up.” In other words, if we do give up, we will not reap.
Secondly, consider Matthew 16:18. Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The church is the only organization/institution attached to such a lofty promise. Nothing will thwart Christ’s purposes in building His church. We can be confident that our labor in the church will be blessed by the Savior who is Head of the Church. I cannot build the church. You cannot build the church. Christ promises to build the church.
So, don’t give up. Don’t grow weary in doing good. Press on. Our labor is not in vain. We will reap in due season. Let us live and labor as if we really believe these promises.