Your Labor Is Not In Vain in the Lord — Or Is It?

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

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“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).

Many years ago, my good friend Pastor John Fredericksen gave me a plaque engraved with this text, a plaque that sits on my desk here at Berean Bible Society to this day. As I labor for the Lord, it is such an encouragement to me to know that, no matter what, my labor is not in vain in the Lord.

But if that be so, why did Paul tell the Galatians,

“Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Gal. 4:10,11).

And what about what the apostle told the Philippians:

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings…that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Phil. 2:14-16).

And don’t we find the same thought in I Thessalonians 3:5?

“…I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

If it was possible that Paul’s labor for the Lord might have been in vain, how could he tell the Corinthians that their labor could not be? How could the labor of a godly apostle be in vain, but not the labor of the carnal Corinthians?

We believe the answer is found in the context of the verse, where right before telling the Corinthians that their labor was not in vain, Paul spoke to them about the Rapture (I Cor. 15:51-57). In that day, when we stand before the Lord at the Judgment Seat of Christ, no believer’s labor will be in vain, for all of our labor for Him will be richly rewarded.

And so it is that, if the Galatians persisted in their legalism, if the Philippians continued to do things with murmurings and disputings, if the Thessalonians abandoned the faith, Paul’s labor among them would have been in vain in this life, but not in the next life! And if you are feeling discouraged about your labor for the Lord because people whom you have led to Him have departed from the faith, or believers to whom you’ve introduced the grace message have turned their back on that blessed truth, you too can rejoice that your labor is not in vain in the Lord!

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


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