1 Corinthians 15:58-16:12 (NKJV)
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
16 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me. 5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 10 And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear; for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me; for I am waiting for him with the brethren. 12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.
Now as you read through that, you probably not only were not profoundly blessed, you don't even remember what it was about. It seemed like a lot of rather busy details about Paul's goings here and there. And at first glance, that's exactly what it is. But at second glance, as you look deeply into it, you find that it reveals his perspective on serving the Lord.
Reason I started with verse 58 of Chapter 15 was because Paul gives us this very great statement that we are to be steadfast, that means consistently moving ahead, immovable, never distracted to the side, resolutely pursuing our goal and always abounding in the work of the Lord because we know it's not in vain when we know it's in the Lord. This statement shines light upon the rest.
We sit at a time in history here in our church when so much has been done that the tendency for us is to simply ride out what has been prepared for us with a lower level of commitment than those who gave us this legacy. We must always, it says in verse 58, "always," at all times it means, "be abounding in the work of the Lord." Now the word abounding is a very important word, it means to overdo it, to go beyond. It isn't the idea of just doing enough to get by. It is the idea of doing, “get this now,” as much as is possible.
Ephesians 1:8 (NKJV)
8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
Philippians 1:9 (NKJV)
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,
1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NKJV)
12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,
1 Thessalonians 4:1 – says abound more and more, verse 10 says abound more and more, we can go on and on with this, but my point here is we are to overdo it. Not just do enough to get by.
Now this entire passage, as we move into 16 then, reflects off of this concept. It's about doing the work of the Lord. You'll notice verse 10, it says at the end of the verse about Timothy, "He does the work of the work of the Lord." So Paul is talking in verse 58 about abounding in the work of the Lord, in Chapter 16, verse 10 about Timothy doing the work of the Lord,
I really believe that we are living in a time when this is hard for us to grasp because most people don't know what it is to work hard. Sixty percent of our people in America, 60% of the employed people in America don't manufacture or produce anything. They're strictly involved in service activities. And in a sense, we've lost a sense of work and labor. And of course we get pumped into us forever and a day, the leisure approach to life. Now we're not living in a day when hard work was a part of life. And it's difficult for us not to see our Christianity in the same low level line of commitment that we tend to see everything else in life.
Here are 6 Aspects that I got out of the opening text about Abounding the work for the Lord
1.Giving & Tithing – Verse 1-3 you must begin with giving. Verse one begins, "Now concerning the collection," And here, we come to the very practical part. "This is of course, part of the work of the Lord, giving to the needs of those saints, and conciliating by an act of love. On the first day of the week, let every one of you," and the Greek text says, "put into the treasury, according as God has prospered." Now we are told then, that giving is to be done on the first day of the week, that's Sunday. That's why at Church we give our offering on the first day of the week because that's what the Bible says. I have seen many Christians ask why do we go the Church on Sunday if the Sabbath is Saturday, Well the Sabbath is Saturday! But we are called to worship on Sunday. Also I seen many argue the whole Tithe issue. But that's a whole another Sermon there folks.
2.Plan – Verse 5 Here Paul speaks about wanting to come, for he would come through Macedonia, This I want to point out Paul was always planning big. Even when he knew it not his will but of God's, it didn't stop him from planning. Sometimes our plans and what our heart desires becomes part of God's plan. And We need to understand that if God plants us there, it's in His timing and not ours. Which leads to Verse 6-7
3.Flexibility – Verse 6-7 Paul would like to visit and stay awhile, but at same time he says if the Lord would permit. And if the Lord permits still doesn't mean the Lord is allowing a long stay. Here we see Paul planning and willing and wanting but we also see Paul submitting only to what the Lord lays out. We have to be Flexible to the Lord and not our own plans.
4.Patience – Verse 8-9 This sums up the will of the Lord, As Paul wanted to go and visit he come to understand this was not the time, for there was work needing to be done where he was “A great and effective door has opened to me and there are many adversaries.” we must be Patience and wait on the Lord to show us. We tend to jump on things we want to do or plan. Most of the time those things back fire on us or we miss opportunities the Lord had laid out for us.
5.Be Gentle – Verse 10-11 Here Paul speaks about Timothy and asking those to be kind to Timothy as he was young and vulnerable and easily intimidated. Be Gentle with him for he is working for the Lord as I. Good point is we should always be gentle with others, old or young, wise or not. Any person who feels intimidated will lose focus or sway from the works. We must embrace all learn from them as well as teach them, working for the Lord is team work.
6.Be Obedient to the Spirit – Verse 12 Paul knew he could have Apollos come when Paul asked him too, But Paul also knew it's not his authority to order that, (even though as a Apostle he did have the Authority) Paul knew it was the authority of the Lord to send Apollos when the timing was right, this is why Paul sent Timothy instead, He humbled his own Authority and let God handle that. He was being obedient to the Spirit and not overriding the Lord on his own will and Authority. Good example to understand God is in control, let's look back on each one of our lives for a moment and see what good has come when we forced things on our own? I personally have had many disasters. Sometimes we have to stop forcing and let God! Be obedient to what it is we need to be doing and Let God handle the things we cannot.
A Challenge for you, The challenge is to do as much as is possible. That means to give more. That means to dream, and plan, and have vision for the future. It means while you plan, you still have flexibility. And in your plans there is thoroughness. And while you're looking ahead, you're still faithful to the present moment. And even where there's opposition, you accept it as a challenge. And you work as a team. And you're sensitive to the Spirit's leading in others lives.