Abound In The Work Of The Lord
By Rich Carmicheal
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Matt. 9:35-38).
The Lord cares deeply for people who are physically and spiritually needy, and He knows that many people are ready to respond to His love for them. In order to reach these people with His love, the Lord desires that we join with Him in the work of His harvest.
Jesus Himself was (and is) devoted to such work. As He shared with His twelve disciples, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). He made this statement in the midst of ministry in Samaria, as He led a Samaritan woman and the people of her town to faith in God. Indeed, the heart of His work was to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and to this end He preached, taught, healed, encouraged and met all sorts of spiritual and physical needs. He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). He lived and died to help others come to know God.
It is not surprising, therefore, that He draws our attention to the harvest and the work to be done. “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). We are His hands, His feet and His voice – His instruments to reach the lost and to build up the saved. The time is short and as God’s people we must make the most of every opportunity.
We are to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that [our] labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). As a means of encouragement to you, I invite you to consider three truths embedded in this passage:
1. The work of the Lord can be hard. When the Apostle Paul writes that our “labor” is not in vain, he uses a Greek word (kopos) that “emphasizes the wearying aspect of hard work.” Though doing God’s work brings much joy, Paul knew full well that the work could be very hard, and he himself was a model for hard work (1 Cor. 15:10). No matter whether our work involves preaching, teaching, giving, praying, evangelizing, leading, showing hospitality, encouraging or serving, we can expect that the work will at times be very demanding.
2. The Lord supplies the resources for His work. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). We can abound in the work of the Lord because His grace abounds in us and He supplies every resource we need to do His work!
And not only does His grace abound in us, He Himself abides in us! Just as Jesus could declare, “The Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14:10), and just as Paul could declare, “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Col. 1:29), so we can rely on the presence of the Lord to work in and through us. As part of His commission to us to go and make disciples of all nations, Jesus promises to be with us always (Matt. 28:20). He is faithful to encourage our hearts and establish us in every good word and work (2 Thes. 2:17).
Are you lacking anything for the Lord’s work? Perhaps you lack courage? Consider how the Lord gave courage to Peter and John to continue in the work of the Lord even though they faced threats from the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:13ff.). Do you lack boldness? Consider how the disciples prayed and “were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Do you lack strength? Encouragement? Wisdom? Power? With His resources we can do all things. In fact, Jesus teaches: “…he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:12-13). We can abound in the work of the Lord because of His presence, His powerful name, and the power of His message (Rom. 1:16). We can fully expect that as we remain in Him, and He remains in us, we will bear much fruit (John 15:5).
3. The work of the Lord matters. A Day is coming when each man’s “work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Cor. 3:13). While many things in life are temporal, we know that the work of the Lord has lasting significance – it “is not in vain.” Christ died, was buried, was raised from the dead and is coming again, and the work we do in sharing His life and love with others matters now and will matter for all of eternity!
Such work matters very much to the Lord. “…God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10). Do you see how personal this is to God? As we work and help His people, it is as though we are showing love to Him. This is reminiscent of Jesus’ teaching that whatever we do for one of the least of His brothers, we do for Him (Matt. 25:40). One day He will reward us for our labor (1 Cor. 3:8).
Our work for the Lord also obviously matters to those to whom we minister. When the Lord returns, will we not greatly rejoice over those who turned to Christ and were strengthened in Christ through our words and service toward them? “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thes. 2:19-20).
But the greatest blessing of all is that our work for the Lord brings glory to Him. Just as Jesus brought His Father glory on earth by completing the work His Father had given Him to do (John 17:4), so our Father receives glory as we complete the work He has entrusted to us (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12). We are, after all, “…His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works...” (Eph. 2:10). Indeed, Jesus gave Himself in order to redeem us and to “purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). What a privilege it is to be “a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21). As we faithfully carry out His work, He is honored and glorified!
Press On in His Work!
We hope the messages in this issue encourage you to press on in the work of the Lord! If you have grown tired and weary from the demanding work, look to One who is faithful to give strength to the weary and power to the weak (Isa. 40:29). He can refresh you, restore you and renew you in your walk with Him and in the work you do for Him. Persevere and finish well. Fulfill the ministry you have received from the Lord (Col. 4:17). In doing so, you can anticipate the day when you can join with the Apostle Paul in saying, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day...” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).