September 6, 2017 • Life for Leaders
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
In yesterday’s devotion, we wrestled with the book of Ecclesiastes, which speaks of our labor as part of the overall vanity of life. This perplexing book from the Old Testament shows us the emptiness of this life if all that exists is what we find “under the sun.”
But what if there is more to life than what we see with our eyes? What if this life “under the sun” is only part of true life, the life God has for us?
1 Corinthians 15 reveals life beyond what can be found “under the sun.” In this chapter, human life matters. Physical life matters. Our bodies matter. But there is reality beyond material reality. There is more to life than the life we experience today. One day, in God’s future, “the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (15:52). In that day, we will share in the victory of Jesus Christ over death (15:56).
Now, we mustn’t think that this teaching is irrelevant for contemporary life. In fact, immediately after celebrating the victory we have through Christ, Paul writes, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (15:58). Did you catch that? In light of the coming future, stand firm… in this life. Give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord… in this life. Your labor in the Lord is not in vain… in this life. The vision of our glorious future shapes and inspires our living today, right now, in this world.
Thus, we are not trapped by the “under the sun” limits of Ecclesiastes. Rather, we see our lives as part of a larger reality, a longer story, a greater truth. God has a future for us, and, indeed for the whole creation. What we do today matters for that future, even if we don’t fully understand how. We can live now with conviction and confidence, knowing that our labor in this life is not in vain.
Tomorrow, we’ll look more carefully at how the promise of the future shapes our lives in this age. Now, let me suggest a few questions for your consideration.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When you think about God’s future, what comes to mind? How do you feel?
Does the hope of what we call “Heaven” make a difference in how you live now? In how you work?
Critics of Christianity have argued that the hope of Heaven causes Christians to care less about this world than they should. Paul appears to think that the hope of God’s future helps us to engage more deeply in this world. How do you explain this peculiar difference?
How might the hope of God’s future make a difference in your work life today?
Gracious God, thank you for the stirring vision of 1 Corinthians 15. Thank you for the confidence we have that death is not the end. Through Jesus Christ, we will have victory over death. Now, we have the hope of your future, a hope that spills over into our daily lives and work.
Help us, dear Lord, to think rightly about the present and the future. May we learn to live now in light of your future. May the hope of your future guide and empower us. May we, through your Spirit, begin to live in your future even now.
All praise, glory, and power be to you, O God. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Is the Kingdom of God Part of My Daily Life?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.