“55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-58 NLT)
One of the big questions that I hear often from Christians is regarding the concept of works, or the things done for the Lord. There are misconceptions surrounding the subject of outward Christlike actions, and it may be difficult for you to find the truth.
Like most believers, you may realize that there is literally nothing you can do to earn your salvation, knowing that your Godly actions contribute 0% to your eternal destination. However, you might struggle to live that out in your daily walk. Why do we humans continue to feel compelled to do more and act bigger, in hopes to gain the attention of God and others? Although you know in your mind, and maybe even in your heart, that you cannot earn even one iota of Kingdom credit, you may find yourself working to earn personal favor.
There are a myriad of reasons why you may find yourself in this insane, never-ending cycle that feels like a mouse in a spinning wheel that never goes anywhere. Maybe it’s out of a deep need to be wanted, or it could be because of an unhealthy fear of God, church or religion, or perhaps it’s simply a desire to have everyone around you think that you are the best. Whatever the reason, your fleshly desires may seem to win out over your Godly purpose more often than you would like. So what is a good Christian girl to do?
Let’s look back at our key scripture. The first verse starts with Paul sharing what’s going to happen when evil is ultimately defeated and all is finally resurrected and restored to its former glory. And then he goes on to explain why. He says that sin produces death, and sin is empowered by the law. But that’s not all. Paul gives thanks to God because Jesus Christ has given us the victory over both sin and death. You may need to read that again. You have been given the victory over sin and death!
That’s why I love what Paul says at the end of 1 Corinthians 15. We read it in the New Living Translation above, but I want you to read that last verse in the The Passion Translation as well. “So now, beloved ones, stand firm, stable, and enduring. Live your lives with an unshakable confidence. We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because we are assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 TPT)
Your Godly actions then, are not a human endeavor to help out the One who created the infinitely expanding universe. I believe we would all agree that He does not need help from you or from me. Nor are they a vain attempt to show off or appease Him. God is insulted when our actions are born out of a motive to pay homage to a higher power. No, your Kingdom service is to be an outflow of your love, thankfulness and devotion to a kind, patient and merciful Heavenly Father. Your actions need not be coerced or forced. Simply put, your Godly actions are to demonstrate on the outside, the love that you have for the Father on the inside. They are to be a byproduct of your confident trust in the One who knows you the best, and loves you the most.
So what’s the key to living in abundant seasons of Kingdom service and producing the kind of fruitful labor that endures? This verse is clear that it is only through your union with the Lord. And how do you stay joined to Him? Look at the beginning of the verse: you must be resolute and unwavering as you continue on your path toward God, without pause. How is that possible? It goes on to say that that kind of determination only comes from a confidence that refuses to be shaken. A confidence that comes from a child who knows the character of their Father well. A confidence in the knowledge that although humans are not perfect, He is, and He has an amazing plan.
You don’t need to do anything to earn the love of your Father. His love for you and commitment to every detail of your life is unchangeable. Immoveable. He refuses to ever stop loving you. Even for a second. He doesn’t love you more when you’re serving Him and He doesn’t love you less when you fail or disappoint him. Nothing you do or don’t do could ever change His adoring heart that longs for constant relationship with you.
It is a devotion born out of this undying love that compels a loved child to reciprocate that love and commitment. And that, dear friend, is the bottom line on the age-old confusion surrounding Christian works and duty to a distant deity versus Christlike love and devotion for your Creator and Lord. Loved people know how to love because it has been modeled to them on an extremely personal level. And it is the expression of that love that inspires them to give back in any way possible.
Adored children, adore. So what is driving your service? If it is not a grateful heart that genuinely wants to return the love that you have received, then I would submit to you that you are not completely allowing God’s love to fully penetrate every area of your heart. Open yourself up to His perfect love and receive it with sincere gratitude. Accept God’s love without condition. You are His. You always have been and you always will be. That is amazing. And that is enough.
Loving Father, You have never left me nor abandoned me and I know that You never will. Your love is undeserved, yet You abundantly give it without reservation. I am humbled and sincerely grateful. Not only do I no longer desire to live my way, I realize that it is impossible. I am only truly alive when I am living saturated in Your love. Help me to fully accept and receive your limitless gifts of love, devotion and purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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