Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable (…stand firm. Let nothing move you. – NIV), always abounding (Always give yourselves fully – NIV) in the work of the Lord, knowing (because you know – NIV) that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 15:58 NKJV.
Life is made up of beginnings and endings and more beginnings. As we travel the road of life the more of those beginnings and endings that we encounter the more difficult it can be to begin again. The apostle Paul gives us some direction as to how to continue to move forward with life, beginning again and again. Those directions are given in 1 Corinthians 15:58. The first instruction that Paul gives us is to “…stand firm. Let nothing move you….”
Next Paul gives us the vital instruction for getting started again, for moving forward, for living life, for experiencing the abundant life. Paul says, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord….” When we come to an end of a phase of our lives, when we experience tragedy, when we experience failure, when we are face-to-face with our own mortality – it can be very hard to take that step forward, to move ahead, to begin something new. The key to doing so is to “…give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord….”
We have just celebrated Christmas and at Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ Jesus, we celebrate the birth of our Savior. But what did Jesus have to do in order to be born as a human being upon this earth? He had to give up the glories of Heaven, the comforts of Heaven. To be our Savior, He would have to experience life as we experience it with all of the trials and tribulations – with all of the joys, and all of the pains. Jesus had to give Himself fully to leave Heaven and descend to the humanness of walking upon this earth. This was an all or nothing project. He could not do this halfway with one foot in Heaven and the other upon earth. He had to fully leave Heaven and fully enter the life of a human being upon this earth.
Jesus walked upon this earth it is thought for about 33 years and during that time He experienced joy, pain, tragedy and temptation. Jesus was not moved, He stood firm in the work that His Father had set before Him. At the very end of His human life Jesus faced one last challenge and that challenge was whether or not to go that last mile, to take that last step that would mean an agonizing death on the cross. The death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead could not be accomplished with one foot in life, and one foot in death. He could only become our Savior by giving Himself fully, totally, completely upon the cross for our sins. That, we know, is what Jesus did. He gave Himself so that we might have life, life eternal, life pressed down and overflowing beyond our imaginations. To have life we must also give ourselves fully to the work of the Heavenly Father, just as Jesus did.
In Luke 9:23 we are told, “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.'” Jesus was saying much the same as the apostle Paul was saying. Jesus is talking about a total surrender, total giving of our lives to the work of the Lord. Remember Jesus had to take up His cross and carry it in humiliation through the streets of Jerusalem until He collapsed in exhaustion. It was that same cross that He carried that He would die upon.
What happened after Jesus died on the cross? He rose again. What Jesus was saying, what Paul was saying, is that if we want to live, really live – then we will have to die – die to self, die to this world; and, give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. In the next verse in Luke 9:24 Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” To have life, to begin again, we must give ourselves fully, totally, completely over to the work of the Lord.
(Part two of three New Years devotionals to encourage living fully for the Lord.)