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Sep 03

Monday Cry Out – Labor in Vain or for Blessings?

So, my wife and I are trying to instill a good work ethic in our oldest daughter, who is six. Like most six year olds, though, she would rather play. We’ve found that teaching her to work for something if she doesn’t get a reward immediately after completing the task is nearly in vain. She has to receive something immediately upon completing the task she was given, whether its a piece of candy or money to add to her piggy bank. She has a pretty firm grasp of the concept of “work for immediate reward down pat” because as soon as the last task of her chore is completed the questions begin to pile up: “When do I get my reward? When? When? When?!”

Teaching my daughter about working for a delayed reward is hard for a six year old to comprehend. She lacks the patience needed to really reap the benefits of long term work project. Adults on the other hand, or most adults, will work a full month for a paycheck or spend an entire year working hard for a bonus or promotion. Adults have learned that some things are worth the wait and are worth working hard for.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]All these people were still living by faith when they died. – Hebrews 11:13[/pullquote] Okay, so how does God work into all of this? Well, for one thing we are commanded to work (go and make disciples and teach them – Matthew 28:19-20) and if we are to have faith in Christ, then our lives are supposed to show that through our deeds, or our work (James 2:14-26). And God is faithful in our work by promising us rewards in heaven, blessing us on Earth through various ways and allowing us to celebrate in the Lord’s grace when we see more people come to follow Christ. However, this does not mean that the Lord’s work is an easy one.

While God does bless us on Earth, he does not say we will be without opposition or hardship and in fact states that we will be persecuted (John 15:20). Because of the hardships involved in the Lord’s work, it is very easy for people to become discouraged or for them to completely turn away from God. Remember, though, that the work we do now will be a blessing to someone in the future, and that God is faithful to our work and he will remember all that we do in his name.

But here’s the question that comes to mind for me today: what if we never even see the blessings or reward because of our work here on Earth? Would we continue to follow God if that were the case? We read about champions like of Christ, like Paul, in the New Testament and we envision our lives, our ministry, being just like theirs. Everywhere we go we give a simple message about how people are sinning and they need Christ and thousands come rushing to accept Christ as their savior. We’ve all had that dream, right? We’ve all had that vision for our ministry. The fact is, most of us will have a life like Abraham.

Abraham? But isn’t he listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11?

Yes, but by comparison to Paul and others, Abraham lived a fairly simple life, just following God wherever God led him. In fact, Abraham considered himself past his prime. Well on in years, he had yet to have any children. He had no heirs. But God, who promised to bless Abraham as the father of many nations, was faithful. But Abraham never saw any of it. He was able to see the beginning stages of God’s plan for Abraham’s life and faith through witnessing the birth of his son Isaac, but beyond that, Abraham never saw it from Earth, but Abraham continued to believe in God’s promise and continued to do the Lord’s work.

You see, most of us will not be a preacher like Paul who the masses flock to listen to and are converted. Most of us will not be a King David leading masses of people to do God’s work. Most of us will likely make huge differences in peoples’ lives that we will never see. We may give birth to the next generation of missionaries. We may start up a soup kitchen that blesses thousands on down the road. We may disciple or teach the next great church pastor. The fact remains, though, we likely will not see how our work blesses others, but one thing is certain: our work for the Lord will bless others, and it will be a blessing to our name even after we’re gone.

Have you ever struggled with this? I have personally. I’ve done many things over the course of my 22 years as a Christian from playing guitar and bass in various bands and worship teams, to teaching Sunday school and small group, to setting up this website, to setting up and running lights at church and one question that almost inevitably comes to mind is this: is the work I’m doing worth it? The answer to that is a resounding “YES”. It is worth it. It may not feel like it at the time. In fact, if you’re encountering persecution and hardships you’ll likely want to give up, but let me encourage you by saying this: God is faithful. Carry on the good work. Be a blessing to others. Continue to follow God no matter what. And hopefully some day they’ll write of us like they did others in Hebrew 11:13: “All these people were still living by faith when they died.”

Happy Labor Day.

– Randall

Father, remind us that the work we do for you is FOR YOU. It’s not for us or our glory. It’s all for you. While we may get discouraged, Father, please help us to remember champions of faith like Abraham who followed you despite never seeing the blessing that you promised, but believed you to be faithful. And you were. Through Abraham and hundreds of years, he became a great nation. Help us to understand that our work will most likely not have immediate gratification, but will have lasting results for your kingdom. Help us to persevere and remain strong. Thank you, God, for letting us work for you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!