Friday, March 15th
Labor: to exert one’s powers of body or mind especially with painful or strenuous effort; work
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Our word for today is labor. As you consider the work you do each day, do you sense a difference in attitude between your labor to improve things versus your labor to maintain them? I would rather paint an entire wall with a bright new color than to repair and cover a crack in it. Spending time looking at new and improved vehicles to buy is more appealing than waiting for oil changes and tire rotations. I like redecorating our home with fun new items more than sweeping and dusting. I find greater pleasure in working to create something new than in maintaining the old.
Perhaps I feel this way because the “reward” is greater when I am able to see striking and visible results from my efforts. A house guest would notice a fresh new wall color but probably not a repaired blemish. New is exciting. New is dramatic and eye-catching. New is novel and fun. Maintenance of the old usually isn’t as rewarding.
Nine days into Lent, I am noticing that the “newness” of the season is beginning to wear off. On Ash Wednesday, I could hardly wait to begin my disciplines of fasting from certain distractions while increasing my spiritual reflection. Now these disciplines, at first fresh and new, are becoming more routine and even tedious. Discipline begins to feel like labor when we need to make a greater effort to persevere.
The maintenance of our spiritual selves through regular discipline doesn’t always feel exciting or new. We want the mountaintop experiences, the fresh revelations, the glorious retreats. We want to see ourselves growing into better followers of Christ in dramatic ways. But we need to keep persevering- to keep up with our disciplines of fasting, spiritual reading, praying, or serving- whether or not we can see a visible difference; whether or not we feel like it. Remember, maintenance does help to keep us from deteriorating!
This verse from 1 Corinthians is perfect for such a time as this. Paul encourages us to remain steadfast, to keep working for the Lord, trusting that our labor will not be in vain. Our labors in keeping our disciplines and following Jesus will not be for naught. Even if we are unable to see any differences, God is making us new… every moment of every day.
All definitions are excerpted from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/
Photo credit: Aaron Burden on Unsplash