Throwing in the Towel

Well, this is the first time I've posted this close to the end of one day and the beginning of another. But I simply couldn't pass up today's verse. Actually there are four of them assigned for today, but I'm going to focus on the last one.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:58: "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 remember the summer I spent working in my home church. I'd just completed my first year of seminary. The pastor must have felt more confidence in me than I felt in myself. He took off for the south to complete a degree he was working on and basically left me "in charge." It seems to me the deacons took flight that summer too. In any case, there were plenty of moments when I wanted to throw in the towel and quit. I got as far as writing the letter of resignation (and a steamy one it was, as I recall).

Chalk it up to youth and inexperience. Well, on second thought, don't. I've mentally re-written that resignation quite a few times over these more than forty years of service and can no longer claim youth and inexperience for the action.

Paul probably had his moments. Certainly he dealt with others who were ready to pack it in and pack it up. He's just reminded the Corinthians that victory has been secured through Christ and that heaven will be our reward. Funny, we usually apply this verse to earthly reward, figuring that eventually we will triumph in life and everything will turn out right at some point.

But Paul's message is something different. The reward is not gained here, though we do benefit from the interest payments on our heavenly savings account. The real reward, the jackpot, is a heavenly one, that "well done, good and faithful servant" received by those who stand firm, who don't move from God's assigned task, who continue to labor faithfully with all their heart.

The results of the labor are not the reward. If that were true, men like Jeremiah would have been poorly rewarded for their faithful and sacrificial service. The reward is God's "well done" because of our perseverance and faithfulness in carrying out the assigned labor, no matter what the results.

The simple knowledge that Jesus waits to pat me on the back is enough to make me put the towel to use rather than throwing it away.

I think I'll delete that last letter of resignation from my hard drive.


  1. Pressing on is hard sometimes, but with His promises - and His help - we can do it, and reap our reward - temporal OR eternal. So glad you wrote. :)


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