Read Acts 20:28-32. Verse 32 says, “And now, brethren, I commend (commit, entrust) you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up (edify), and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Last week we looked at these three aspects of God’s grace: 1. We are to grow in grace. 2. We are to be strong in grace. 3. We are to know that God’s grace is sufficient for our every need. This week, we will look at the fact that grace should provoke in us spiritual labor. We will see that: 1. Jesus knows our labor. 2. Spiritual labor is a mark of a disciple. 3. There will be a reward for our labor. Let’s get into God’s Word.
1. God’s Grace should provoke Spiritual Labor. 1Cor 15:10 - “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain (for nothing, fruitless, empty); but I labored (toiled and worked hard, even to fatigue and weariness) more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Far from causing laziness, the grace of God provoked and enabled Paul to labor abundantly. He went on more mission trips; planted more churches; wrote more Epistles; won more souls - than they all. By what means? By the grace of God working in him.
This wasn’t a boastful statement. In fact, it was one of great humility. Paul had said he wasn’t even worthy to be called an Apostle, because he had persecuted the Church; and he called himself the “Chief of sinners”. Yet, He magnified God’s grace which worked in him, which caused him to abundantly labor in the harvest field. He gave all credit to God’s grace, and not to himself. That is true humility.
In Col 1:28-29, Paul said he labored, striving according to the mighty working of God. How did he labor and strive? By the working of God within. Again, biblical grace does not cause idleness, but productivity in the kingdom of God. God within you motivates and invigorates, giving us purpose and meaning. Here are three points about God’s grace producing labor within us:
1. Jesus knows our labor. He told the church at Ephesus, “(Rev 2:2) I know thy works, and thy labor….”. The Thessalonians work and labor of love was, “In the sight God” (1Th 1:3). Under the inspiration of the Holy spirit, Paul recognized and honored those who labored with him (Rom 16:6, 12; Philip 2:25). This does not just mean laboring physically, but spiritually. In fact, spiritual labor, though it doesn’t produce a sore back; is often more taxing and exhausting than physical labor. There may be some who would disagree with that - but I doubt they have really ever labored spiritually.
2. There is nothing wrong with getting your hands dirty; spiritual labor is a mark of a Disciple. (1Co 4:12, Eph 4:28, 1Th 2:9, 2Th 3:8). C.H. Spurgeon said, “The Christian life is very much like climbing a hill of ice. You cannot slide up. You have to cut every step with an ice axe. Only with incessant labor in cutting and chipping can you make any progress. If you want to know how to backslide, leave off going forward. Cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity. You can never stand still.”
Because we have faith in God, we labor (1Tim 4:10). We must labor to enter into God’s rest (Heb 4:11). Ministers must labor constantly in the Word and doctrine (1Tim 5:17, 1Thess 5:12, Acts 6:4). Again Spurgeon remarks, “If any man will preach as he should preach, his work will take more out of him than any other labor under heaven.” Though at times spiritual labor can be wearisome and taxing, it is joyful and filled with the promise of great reward!
3. There will be a reward for our labor! 1Co 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” We will receive our own reward based on our own labor (1Cor 3:8). We labor to be well pleasing to Jesus (2Cor 5:9). Spiritual labor is a labor of love, and God won’t forget it (Heb 6:10). We don’t labor to get God to love us; we labor because He loves us. As Paul demonstrated, though we be sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus Christ; we make ourselves bondservants (love slaves) to Jesus. This is our reasonable service (Rom 12:1). Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!