« Something Better | Main | Learn to Be Still »
Tuesday
May292012

Labor of Love

Serving God is sometimes very hard work, but it is always a work. While every Christian is called to employment in ministering to Christ, those who are appointed to specific works and offices become engaged in labors of love that emphasize the value of their effort, regardless of material repayment.

Discussion

I. Your Work of Faith and Labor in Love

A. The Work of God

1. somewhere in between Catholicism’s merit-based salvation and Calvinism’s faith only is what the Bible teaches, salvation by grace through faith, faith defined according to trust and obedience, rather than the twin errors of idleness and perfectionism (Ephesians 2:8-10)

2. while we cannot save ourselves through works of righteousness, because only an independently unblemished record would suffice, we are involved in our redemption (see Titus 3:3-7)

3. you are commanded to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

4. when Jesus was asked about doing the works of God, he indicated that they were possible only by faith (John 6:25-29)

5. everything that we understand about laying up treasure in heaven and following the preparation lessons in the parables is concerned with the faithful’s duty to the will of God; faith is demonstrated by works, completing and fulfilling it so necessarily that faith without works is dead (see James 2:18-26)

B. Labors of Love

1. all Christians, regardless of what else they do with their lives, are responsible for labors of love – demonstrations of their love for God and neighbor, for in Christ Jesus, nothing counts for anything except faith working through love (see Galatians 5:6)

2. as often as not, these demonstrations are one and the same – we show love for God by committing labors of love for his creatures and children (First Thessalonians 1:2-3)

a. evidence that our faith is growing shows up in our attitude and actions toward others (Second Thessalonians 1:3-4; see also Colossians 1:3-4)

b. our faith shows stagnation or corruption when we are apathetic or antagonistic toward them (First John 3:16-18)

3. we undertake labors of love when we visit widows and orphans in their distress, when we play the role of Good Samaritans, when we imitate the encouragement of Barnabas, when we lay down our lives for the brethren

C. Heartiness

1. sometimes people who labor do so out of a sense of necessity or grudging obligation and their hearts are clearly not in what they’re doing; it shows up in the poor quality of their work or the nasty attitude that perverts even their good deeds

2. labors of love should always be motivated by selflessness and brotherly affection (Colossians 3:23-24)

3. that is why the Bible cautions you not to grow weary in doing good things, but to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (First Corinthians 15:58)

4. beyond a lack of sincere effort, our altruistic labors of love can be ruined by self-promotion and self-congratulation (Matthew 6:1-4)

II. Those Who Labor Among You and Are Over You

A. Elders

1. in addition to the work that belongs to every disciple, the pastoral office of elder requires work of oversight and shepherding of the local flock (see First Peter 5:1-5, Titus 1:5-11)

2. it is right to support them financially if they labor sufficiently in the word to be deserving, but not to consider them to be above fault (First Timothy 5:17-20)

3. we owe our elders, as well as all those who serve us here, respect and cooperation, so far as they hold to their integrity and stick to the word (First Thessalonians 5:12-13)

B. Deacons

1. the work of deacons is probably foreshadowed in that of the seven men of good reputation that the church in Jerusalem selected to attend to the needs of the Greek widows while the apostles concentrated upon the more purely spiritual tasks of teaching and prayer (see Acts 6:1-6)

2. it is still not profitable that those who are most responsible for study and teaching should be called away from that service to discharge duties that belong to the whole church, but which often get done by a small minority

3. the deacons fill this gap, not in doing the members’ work for them, but in seeing to it that special tasks are completed for the church as a whole

C. Evangelists

1. lastly, the church’s evangelists are engaged in a labor of love that occupies their entire lives – professionally, socially, spiritually (see First Thessalonians 3:5)

2. he also recognized a right to be supported sufficiently by the people whom he taught (First Corinthians 9:11-14)

3. on some occasions, he chose to forego that right, while at other times, he was required to make tents to assist in his own support, even as preachers today might need to augment their income through secular work (First Thessalonians 2:9, Second Thessalonians 3:6-9)

4. very few preachers are in it to get rich and fewer still do, at least materially; they become preachers, although there are other things they could do, because they love to help people in the most helpful way possible (Philippians 1:22-26)

5. many more spend their lives making financial sacrifices and subjecting their families to times of need, often reaching old age with little preparation for the future (First Corinthians 4:11-13)

6. think about those men who are preaching overseas for meager sums or who labor in this country and sometimes cannot pay the bills or who must keep preaching in old age to get by; “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches” (Galatians 6:6).

Conclusion

The gospel involves a labor of love, for all Christians who serve God and for those who devote their lives to a certain office or ministry.

Questions for Review


  1. What place do works have in the plan of salvation?

  2. What is it to work the works of God?

  3. What must faith work through?

  4. What attitudes ruin even very good works?

  5. On what basis might elders be paid for their work?

  6. Why didn’t Paul always get paid for preaching?

  7. What are some ways that we labor in love?

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend