From Labor To Rest

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1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Spur of the moment date night arose after hearing about a new movie, “The Least of These”. I put two and two together. This was the same family I’d read in a Voice of the Martyrs book, ‘Hearts of Fire’. Was I really going to put myself through another awesome true story while sobbing that ugly cry in the theatre? Yes, I wanted my husband to see it also. 

It’s now been 20 years since Graham Staines and two young sons burnt alive during a routine visit to a neighboring village in India. Graham his wife, Gladys lived as missionaries in India, with their 3 kids, treating patients in a leprosy home they established.

It’s so cool to ‘get to know’ such great servants of God, through the film’s portrayal of them. I highly recommend seeing it.

Graham’s character speaks of his childhood to the reporter, who would later unknowingly set off a surge of hate leading to Grahams death. When Graham saw a newspaper picture of a leper boy in India the same age as him, it tugged on his heart. He spent 35 years serving lepers in India.

A couple of things Graham said, stuck in my head. The reporter, interested in catching Graham in illegal conversions, wondered why he treated people, the locals called, cursed. Graham tells a story of how, when God calls you to something, you’re compelled by His love to do it. “God didn’t let me walk past”, he expressed.

Approached by the same reporter Graham said, “Don’t write about me. Write about them.” Graham didn’t want glory for himself. He saw nothing he did as courageous but how God led him through all of it. It is God’s work. He just gets the privilege to serve as God’s ambassador.

Noticing Graham turned down a larger bill for just coins, the reporter wondered why Graham continued in his work in danger relentlessly. Graham gently told him about the ten leper Jesus cured, only one returned to Jesus to thank Him.

Graham’s labor of love to the Lord and the suffering people of India is self-evident.

Gladys also demonstrated today’s verse in action. She let nothing ‘move’ her to anger, resentment or hate. In her husband’s death, she continued to allow the Lord to work love and forgiveness through her.

Together, their commitment shows they knew their labor for the Lord was not in vain.

Today’s verse speaks to me when I’m tempted to feel burnt out. It gives encouragement needed to know labor in the Lord is not in vain. 

That’s a rather key phrase, ‘in the Lord’. We can run circles doing all we think is for His glory, but if it’s not ‘in Christ’, it’s worth nothing. I’ve taken this advice, stepped back and asked myself, “What’s my motive” for various ministry obligations. I guess being worn out after laboring, in the Lord, is a good thing. At least it’s a hint we might be giving ourselves fully to His work.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; — 1 Corinthians 15:42

One other key quote stuck in my head. When the same reporter asked one of Grahams sons if he was from Australia or India, he said he was from neither. Such wisdom came from the boys mouth, “I’m from dust”. He referred to his descendant Adam, whom God made from dust (Genesis 2:7). The chapter from today’s verse gives understanding. We’re all descendant from Adam, from dust to return to dust (Genesis 3:19). Here comes the good news of the gospel. Yet now, all who are in Christ will raise to eternal life. 1 Corinthians 15:35-57 explains how our mortal bodies are sown perishable in weakness, but raised imperishable.

These young boys, with their father won victory over death. … the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

Then comes that beautiful, ’Therefore’, so often used in the letters of Paul to the churches.

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. — 1 Corinthians 15:58

For a full understanding of today’s passage… Go. Read 1 Corinthians 15.

Holy Father, You command us to be Your hands and feet. What a privilege it is to serve You, in Christ. And, O what a reward, You have in the eternal with You! We know we’re not working for salvation, for You gave it freely in Your Son, Jesus. Encourage us, that our labor in You, is not in vain. ~Amen

Other verses:
1 Corinthians 12:27
1 Philippians 1:21-23
2 Corinthians 5:8
John 12:24

It is often said, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. As part of One Body, let’s Remember those currently in chains for Christ as if we were with them.
(Hebrews 13:3)
See another blog, ‘Remember‘ for more on persecutions of the church.