I like baseball. I have for as long as I can remember. I’ve suffered through four decades of mediocre baseball following my favorite team, the Texas Rangers, before they qualified twice for the World Series (without, alas, the victor’s rings). I’ve acquired thousands and thousands of baseball cards. I still reach first for the sports page and like to read the baseball box scores. And like many other young boys, I had a dream of playing major league baseball. So in ninth grade I signed up to play on the baseball team. Then I went to practice. I woke up from my dream after one day. I walked off the field and into the school office and had my schedule changed. I quit.
I quit because my perspective changed. Reality interrupted my dream and I understood I was over-matched. It strikes me that we are prone to spiritual discouragement for the same reason. Circumstances change and the “opposition” seems overwhelming. So we walk away from the ministry God has called and equipped us to do. But hidden at the end of 1 Corinthians 15 we find four compelling reasons not to quit ministering in Christ’s church:
“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 content of our call is the steadfastness of Christ. God has saved us not only for our personal salvation, but for His effective service. He has redeemed us spiritually to be His agents, presenting His offer of reconciliation to the world (2 Cor. 5:18-21). And His intention is that we are about this ministry always — “always abounding in the work.”
The motive for our call is God’s love for His own. What compels Him to call us to this ministry is His love for us. By means of that love He has placed us in a spiritual family in which He loves each individual uniquely yet equally and fully. Together we are “beloved brothers” who are adopted and loved sons of God (Rom. 8:12-17; Gal. 4:1-7).
The result of our call is a worthwhile work. There is much about any job that can be drudgery and vanity. That’s not so with ministry. Every work of service for God is one that will not come up empty. Every God-given job is one that will receive His reward — when it is done “in the Lord,” that is, for His honor and exaltation.
The motive for our labor is the victory of Christ. This verse is a concluding statement (did you notice that it begins with the word “therefore”?) to an extended encouragement about life after death and the resurrection. The instruction of vv. 1-57 focused on the truth that followers of Christ are not hopeless. There will be a resurrection and this body will then be fully redeemed from the curse of sin. Christ is the victor over sin, and that will be demonstrated finally and fully at that resurrection. “Therefore,…be steadfast, immovable…”
Because your eternal hope is secure, be steadfast and unwavering in your temporal ministry.