It’s not a secret that many people begin strong in life and ministry, but few finish strong. The relentless demands and distractions of the world mercilessly bludgeon believers. At best, some Christians stumble across the finish line with diminished faithfulness, while the faithfulness of others collapses before ever reaching it.
Yet, the biblical call to service is best pictured as a marathon rather than a sprint.
So, how can believers be best postured to finish strong in life and ministry?
Two powerful truths surface as the bookend thoughts in 1 Corinthians 15:58 to provide an important aspect of an answer to this question.
The opening word in 1 Corinthians 15:58, “therefore,” provides the first supply of fuel for a life of sustained faithfulness. Grammatically, this word is basically a linking idea. It looks backward to the preceding context in order to provide practical impact for moving forward.
Since 1 Corinthians 15 is largely focused on the theme of the resurrection, Paul appeals to this truth in his exhortation to believers to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” When the glorious light of eternity floods the focus of believers, they find fuel for a life of faithful service. They do not coast to the finish line; rather, they run with endurance all the way into eternity.
Likewise, Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 15:58 with a second powerful thought. Here, he reminds believers that “in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” He challenges Christians to look beyond what is merely in front of them. Instead, they are to look with eyes of faith to see what God is accomplishing for His glory.
There is nothing more discouraging as the thought that a person’s labor is for naught. If people feel their labor is futile, discouragement easily grinds them to a bitter halt. However, when people know their labor is beyond human quantification, they can press on by God’s grace. This encouraging truth undergirds believers as they climb the steepest inclines and walk through the deepest valleys. The brilliance of eternity’s light shining back on the difficult stretches of life and ministry will one day reveal how God worked to accomplish His plans in the midst of struggles.
Christians do not have to be a proverbial flash in the pan. They can be a flame which grows in intensity as they gain momentum by God’s grace and run into his eternal embrace. According the 1 Corinthians 15:58, the hope of the resurrection and the assurance of fruitful labor are powerful truths to help believers finish strong.
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