Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, un-moveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Gospel preachers often use this passage to encourage brethren to abound in faithful work and service to the cause of Christ. A Christian’s life must be a life of abounding work. He must be a faithful follower of the Master, a “steadfast, unmovable, always-abounding” servant who is firmly grounded in the Bible’s revealed truths. Yet, some brethren are not “steadfast and unmoveable;” rather, they are like “children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness.” (Ephesians 4:14) They lack the qualities associated with “always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
- W. E. Vine defined the Greek word rendered “abounding” (perisseuo, Ok) in this passage as: “to be abundantly furnished, to abound in a thing…the work of the Lord.“
- Strong defined this word as: From G4053; “to super-abound (in quantity or quality), be in excess, be superfluous; also (trans.) to cause to super-abound or excel: (make, more) abound, (have, have more) abundance, (be more) abundant, be the better, enough and to spare, exceed, excel, increase, be left, redound, remain (over and above)” (Strong’s, 04502).
Hence, one who abounds has an overflowing abundance. Consider the account (Luke 4:5-10) of Jesus’ instructions to Simon Peter. The Lord said, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.”When Peter obeyed and let down the nets as Christ directed, they caught such a vast number of fishes that their nets broke, and the ship began to sink. Now, that’s ABUNDANCE!
The phrase “in the work of the Lord” applies to all things God commanded man to do. Of this phrase, commentator Albert E. Barnes said, “Always engaged in doing the will of God; in promoting His glory, and advancing His kingdom. This phrase means not only to be engaged in this, but to be engaged diligently, laboriously; excelling in this. The ‘work of the Lord’ here means that which the Lord requires; all the appropriate duties of Christians. Paul exhorts them to practice every Christian virtue, and to do all they could do to further the gospel among men.“ (Barnes Notes, Vol. 8, p. 324)
Having read these definitions and comments, let us consider the Bible passages that teach us how we are to abound “in the work of the Lord.” To abound in the Lord’s work we must:
- Abound in faithful service, coupled with thanksgiving. Paul wrote, “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joy and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:5-7)
- Abound in suffering for the cause of Christ. Paul wrote, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.” (2 Corinthians 1:5-7)Notice that Paul mentioned steadfastness. As workers for the Lord, we must be steadfast, even though severe persecutions may arise. Christ warned His disciples that they would have to endure persecutions, and that they would come to those who do the Lord’s work (Matthew 10:16-28). Paul, himself, suffered persecutions and warned in his writings of persecutions that would come to the faithful (2 Corinthians 11:24-28; 12:10; 2 Timothy 3:11,12). Thus, we must be willing to suffer and should not think it strange when we are called upon to suffer persecutions for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Peter 4:12-16; Revelation 2:10).
- Abound in hope. Paul wrote to the Roman brethren, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” (Romans 15:13,14) Basically, hope is desire with expectation. The Christian should hope to receive an “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 1:4; 5:4) We must base our hope for heaven on the truths revealed in the Scriptures, not on some false hope created by false teachers. Sadly, some have laid down the sword of truth and have not finished the race, resulting in a “faith” that is made shipwreck (1 Timothy 1:19).In his letter to young Timothy, Paul expressed confidence that he, based on his own steadfastness in the faith, would receive the eternal crown: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
- Abound in knowledge and judgment. Paul wrote, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:9,10) Christians are to abound and grow in the knowledge of God’s word. The Bible commands and exhorts us to study God’s word (2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:12-14; Ephesians 3:3,4; 5:17; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:17,18). If we are to remain steadfast in our faith in Christ, we must possess knowledge about His word, will, and way.We must base our judgments on the revealed word. We are to, “Judge righteous judgment.” Jesus commanded, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) Our judgments must not be based on our own personal standards, but on Bible principles of truth (Matthew 7:1-5). Righteous judgment requires correct application of Bible truths. James taught that we are to be“doers of the word, and not hearers only.” (James 2:22-25) His message rings loud and clear regarding this point.
- Abound in love. Paul wrote, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12,13)