Years ago I heard my childhood pastor quote a little rhyme that instantly stuck because of its simplicity and profundity. This is it:
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last
Simple. Weighty. Ringing with truth. This statement is a challenge to be focused on work that glorifies Christ. Everything else will be consumed in the testing fire.
Nothing done for Christ is ultimately pointless
Yet, as we labor for the Lord, it can often seem that our work has no effect, goes unrecognized or helps little compared with the amount of energy we spend doing it. After all, when we spend so many hours praying and doing events and having meetings and serving the community and contributing to Bible study classes or worship services with little to show, we can begin to get frustrated with the results and question the validity of the labor. That’s why Paul wrote, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Cor. 15:58)
As long as it’s labor for Christ, we can be confident that God recognizes it. He sees and knows. And this hope strengthens us to be steadfast and immovable and continue, or even increase, our labor for the Lord.
Your Reward is with the Lord
Not only does God recognize everything we do for His glory, but He plans to reward us for it. This is what gave Isaiah hope. He said, “I have toiled in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to me is with the LORD, and my reward with my God.” (Is. 49:4)
This is faith—trust that reward will come later even though work may seem futile now. This type of faith in the remuneration of God will dismantle any fear of vain spiritual labor, as long as that labor is legitimate labor for Christ. This promise of spiritual reward is confirmed in the picture of Christ’s return in Revelation when Christ says, "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." (Rev. 22:12)
This is the reason we toil—to glorify Christ and receive His reward, not the world’s.
This is the rest we have in our toil—that He will bring reward with Him.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. And when You come, may we be found laboring for Your kingdom.