Have you ever said it?
“I may as well give it up. I’ve spent years working, praying, waiting, hoping … and nothing has changed.”
“This really won’t make much of a difference. Why even bother?”
As a college student, I had a summer job that was funded by a grant. The tasks I was given filled a need, but I didn’t have enough work to fill the hours; almost every day I had to search for something more to do until the clock released me to leave for home. Later in life, I held a job that was often overwhelming simply because there was too much to do in each day. I worked long hours, often nibbling at lunch as I worked at my desk.
I much prefer the second kind of job, even though it’s more stressful. At the second job, I knew that everything I did counted for something.
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 15:58 NLT).
It seems a simple statement, but doesn’t this promise inject you with just a few more ounces of energy? Doesn’t it make a difference to know that everything—everything—we do for the Lord is important? We are not just putting in our time, going through the motions of discipleship. Everything we do for Him matters in His Kingdom!
This puts all those “small” acts of obedience in a new light. How can we shrug off as insignificant anything the Spirit asks us to do?
Or how can we abandon hope and give up in discouragement if we’ve been given this promise?
One of Satan’s most effective strategies to derail our discipleship is to convince us that what we are doing has no or very little importance. Or perhaps he whispers other lies to you: “You’re not qualified to do this; someone else could do this better; what you do has had no effect; all your effort has meant nothing. Might as well give it up.”
No! Stand strong and immovable against the lies! If the Spirit is producing fruit in your life, if He moves you to do anything, no matter how small it might seem (remember the cup of cold water?), do not give up, because nothing you do for the Lord is useless.
The hope held in this verse grows even fuller when we look at its context. The verse is often quoted, but we find it in an unexpected context.
In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul has just written long paragraphs about the promise of the resurrection of our bodies and the certainty that we will live forever. He ends it by saying, “So don’t give up. Stand strong. Whatever we do for the Lord is very important.”
The effects of what we do here on earth will not be limited to this hour, this day, or the dimensions of earthly life. What we do for the Lord has effects that reach into eternity.
So let us not allow discouragement or setbacks or unseen results immobilize us. Paul writes in another letter that we can be certain we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9).
This is our hope—even when tired and discouraged or feeling insignificant and ineffective: Nothing we do for our Lord is ever useless.
May this promise pick us up again and again, to keep us standing strong and immovable.