• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Steadfast, Immovable, Always Abounding

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Being steadfast, immovable and always abounding is sometime easier said than done. It means to be securely anchored such that resistance to your position cannot move you away from your connection point. To be steadfast is to be like the line that holds a boat securely to its mooring. The boat may float up or down with the tide or be blown occasionally by the wind but it remains steadfastly anchored to the dock.

To be steadfast in the work of the Lord is to hold fast to the truth of His Word to always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you. Looking for and responding quickly and eagerly to every opportunity to share the Gospel, speak a word of encouragement, show gratitude for a blessing, to be a blessing to those in need and to give double honor to those who labor in the Word and in doctrine. Now let me say a word about this passage.

“If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows. Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 1 Timothy 5:16-18

At the time of Paul’s first letter to Timothy the church he was pastoring had those among them who felt it was the church’s responsibility to take care of every widowed person in their fellowship. But this was putting a great strain on the resources of the church, so to clarify his position on taking care of widows and orphans, he said, let the families of those widows be responsible for their care and those widows without families would be taken care of by the church. It was not God’s intention to make the Church a “welfare state” nor did he intend for the church to turn its back on those who were truly needy.

Now as to the matter of elders and their provision, He makes a bold statement that has profound implications.

“Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.”

This is in reference to the message Jesus taught concerning those who are sent to preach and proclaim the Gospel and how they are to be received.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” John 13:20

The question then becomes how do we receive Jesus. If He were to show up physically at our door, how would we honor Him? If He sends us a letter with words of instruction and exhortation how would we receive them? The measure of our hospitality and welcome to Him is the same measure we should use in welcoming and receiving those whom He sends by their calling and ordination to labor in the Word and in doctrine, to teach, to preach, to exhort, to reprove, to comfort, to instruct in righteousness, to encourage in the love and grace of God.

The way we receive God’s messengers is the way we receive Jesus and the way we receive Jesus is the way we receive God.

We wonder sometimes why our prayers seem hindered or our hope is sometimes differed, or the wisdom we sought seems shrouded in a fog. Could it be that we have not been willing to receive the word of the messengers God has sent to us I answer to our prayers, but dismissed them and their words as just “another man’s opinion” particularly when it wasn’t the word we wanted to hear.

I do not speak here exclusively of ordained ministers. Oftentimes God will speak His wisdom from the mouth of someone who is not a part of the ordained clergy but who has labored in the Word and continues in the pursuit of sound doctrine.

I have been blessed on many occasions by the sound wisdom from brothers and sisters in Christ who are not part of the Church ordained leadership but who are nevertheless sent by God to speak a word in season.

However, in this passage the apostle Paul is calling particular attention to the care given to widows in the practical needs of their daily living and the care and practical needs of the (ordained in our time) elders who have been charged by Him to study and diligently pursue the Word so as to be ready always to be His voice speaking His Words to His people, to be available to them for comfort, encouragement, exhortation and conferring of God’s blessing on their lives.

In 1 Corinthians 9:9-18 the Scriptures make it clear that it is altogether fitting and right for those who preach and teach the Gospel as their calling in ministry to share in the material blessings given to those who hear and receive that ministry.

By supporting those ministers materially they are then freed to more vigorously perpetuate expanded to the proclamation of the Gospel in ever increasing measure.

But because there are and always have been those who resist the idea that God wants His ministers to prosper and be fed by a share in the material prosperity of those who hear and receive the Word to the edification of their lives, Paul chose to make not demands on the those who heard and received his ministry in order that the message would not be hindered by the weakness of human flesh.

The only thief in the world is the devil. It is he alone who opposes God’s people encouraging and blessing those who carry the message of the Gospel to the world. Why? Because it is the simplest and most effective way of keeping that message limited to just a few people and it keeps his lies running rampant throughout the world unchecked. At least that’s what he thinks.

But he is self-deceived. The Word of God is going forth, is being proclaimed and will not be stifled by a lack of material resources. Whether in comfort or in struggle, whether in warfare or in ease the Word of God will be declared and millions will hear it, believe it and receive it.

Next part — Always Abounding…


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