“Therefore, my dear brothers, 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.” I Cor 15:58
I often hear good hearted people [they mean the absolute best], paint a picture of Christianity in the following light: “The victory is yours. Use your authority and walk in it. Name it. Claim it.” What’s that mean exactly? The underlying implication jolts an often fatigued heart, indicating “If the trial isn’t lifted…. If you don’t feel passionate, happy, and vigorous, you’re doing something wrong.”
I’ve listened to the many verses quoted (usually out of context), intended to offer an “extra push.” For some time, I have wrestled with this concept. While, hands-down, I one hundred percent agree with the first sentence and emphatically state Yes.
we are victorious through Christ.
Every single time.
Without a doubt.
He has overcome and so can we.
The leap I’ve had difficulty hurdling is the enormous wave of feelings that often come as a direct result of trials and tribulations. After walking through an intense week, in which the battle felt particularly ramped up somehow, I was wrestling with much fatigue and emotion. Interestingly, I utilized every spiritual tool in my belt, including fasting, praying, worshiping, quoting verses, crying out, dancing, praising, reading the Word, meditating, and begging others to pray for me. Despite all I knew to do, the endless attack did not stop. In fact, it may have gotten worse. My baffled mind made no sense of it.
As I pressed on, the realization came that God didn’t want to lift it. He wanted me to stand firm in the midst of it. My physical energy was waning fast and my emotional stock pile had been completely depleted. The relentless obstacles continued.
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed, you questioned if you were “standing” at all? Yep, that’s where I was. With all I knew to do, I did it. Yet the prevailing struggle and crushing emotions weren’t magically lifted, despite valiant efforts. It was in this moment God showered me with this verse. Though I felt enormous encouragement from the author’s flavorful passion, the last sentence “clicked it” it all in place for me, when I simply began processing the two Greek words for “work” and “labor.” Of course, glancing at the sentence in the English, I would guess them to possess the same meaning. After all, we use the words, work and labor, interchangeably. Astoundingly, they are not. The first word translated work is ergon in the Greek and means what you would induce, work [the result of object of employment; making or working]. It can refer to a single deed, a calling or occupation, or moral conduct.
Now to the second word translated labor. The word Kopos in the Greek is completely different in meaning. Kopos is defined as “labor or trouble” and emphasizes, not the exertion of the work as ergon does, but the weariness which he experiences from that exertion.
I don’t know about you, but this made perfect sense for me. Though we’re commanded to give ourselves “fully to the work of the Lord” the fleeting and momentary weariness we often feel “is not in vain.” Somehow the recognition spurs me on. The fatigue, exhaustion, and emotion are not only a component to the work of the Lord, but they serve an enormous purpose. Will you persevere with me?