1 Corinthians 15:58b
58b Forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
Paul made this statement as an encouragement for all who would give of themselves to always abound in the work of the Lord (v. 58a). The work of the Lord is the Christian’s “labour”. The Greek word that Paul used for “labour” (kópos) denotes trouble and vexation. Indeed, serving the Lord often would require wearying effort from His servants. It is laborious in various aspects, such as the enormity and scope of the work, the diligence and exactness required, the hostile circumstances involved, and so on.
The apostle Paul knew how laborious the work of the Lord could be. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-30, he highlighted his labours for Christ. He wrote, “Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”
Even though the servant of the LORD has to endure such intense hardships, he is assured that his labour is “not in vain”. No real work for the Lord is in vain. Because of the hardships, one might be tempted to think that one has failed to be effective in the Lord’s work. Yet, because we are co-labourers with God, He will accomplish all His good purposes through us. Moreover, as we endure hardships in our labour for the Lord, our own character is being conformed to the Lord’s, others are blessed by our efforts in the Lord, and the Lord also is magnified. The resurrection day will prove the full measure of the fruit of our labour for our Master. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). Truly, “every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour” (1 Corinthians 3:8b).