Labour Not in Vain

“Yippee… It’s Friday!”

“TGIF.”

“This is my Monday face 😦 ”

“The weekend is one day too short.”

I dislike social media on Mondays and Fridays. Messages and posts like these abound – all either complaining about the working week or rejoicing in its ending.

It so often appears that our lives revolve around weekends, that work is just a meaningless drudgery we plod through in order to get to Friday evening so that we can… what? Watch TV? Indulge in our hobbies? Party? Go shopping? Spend the whole day on the computer?

Brethren, it seems to me this ought not to be so. The weekend consists of less than half the week, so is it really worth living for? If you knew Monday was your last day, would you hate it so much? Because it could be – today could be. We don’t know when Jesus is coming to get us and He is not going to ask us, “So what did you do with your weekends?”

Even if we don’t like our jobs, we are required, no, commanded to do them, and to do them well (1 Thess. 4:11). 2 Thessalonians 3:10 goes so far as to say that if one will not work, neither shall he eat. There are too many people who cannot work for those who can to refuse it. We will not add to the burden of others just because we don’t feel like working. If we can work, and if we want to eat, we better hurry up and do it so that we can not only feed ourselves, but also those less fortunate (Ephesians 4:28).

But there is more to it than duty. Let us count it all joy to be able to work for Him, whatever we do – whether we play sports or push pens or study or teach or cook or sing. If we can work, then we are mightily blessed and privileged; there are millions of unemployed, uneducated people who long for exactly what we complain about. We whine about having to study when all over the world people are stuck on the streets, unable to work, unable to understand what is happening in the world, locked in a prison of their own illiteracy. If you can read this, take a moment to thank God.

Brethren, we can live out our created purpose, improve our lives and, best of all, serve our God and His children through our careers, too. In fact, that should be the main purpose of our careers: to worship our amazing and beloved King. Let’s not store up our treasures where moths and thieves can destroy it, but rather work to fill up the treasuries of Heaven. Let us do our work with love, faith, passion, gratitude, patience, willingness, obedience and courage. Let us go forth and do whatever we do with all of our hearts, as unto God and not unto men (Colossians 3:23). Whether we really like what we do or not, we can still use it to serve the Lord, and the greatest joy a creature can know is in the serving of its Creator. What we do and where and when we do it is not what’s important. What is important is why we do it. And when we do it because we love our God and because we can serve Him in it by working with a worshipful and steadfast spirit, and dedicating all the glory to God, and submitting every detail to His loving Hands, then He will do something amazing with it. Something much bigger than we are.

Enough with blue Mondays. Wake up on Monday, turn your face to the sun, thank the Lord for a brand new day, and give every second to God. And then watch Him turn your world inside out.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58).

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Inscribed in Stone

by Justine Capgras

“Oh, that my words were recorded,

   that they were written on a scroll,

that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,

   or engraved in rock forever!

I know that my redeemer lives,

   and that in the end he will stand on the earth.”

-Job 19:23-25

If words are just symbols, they’re pretty powerful.

One sentence can make the difference on anything from what you eat today to whether someone lives or dies. And there are so many different ways to use these sentences, whether you write in cuneiform or speak in Mandarin Chinese. In the end, though, you’re still using the symbols you have learned to communicate the ideas in your mind.

Well, we’re writers, right? Symbolism is what we do. The words we work with are symbols. The pictures we create are symbols. Rain is a symbol of sadness, the dawn is a symbol of hope.

Our words, however, are different. Because we are Christians, our words are a symbol of something else. You don’t have to be writing an allegory of the Gospel to spread God’s Kingdom. Your words are a symbol of you, no matter what you are writing, it always shows through. And we are the symbols of God in this world.

You can’t see, hear, or feel God, the symbols of our senses no longer work. Because we are God’s creation, we are the body of Christ, we are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. And when we write our own symbols into the words on the page, we are spreading the Kingdom of the Lord farther than we ourselves could go. Whether we write on paper, “the cloud”, or inscribe every letter onto the mountainsides, God’s Word is inscribed on our hearts. We can use our writing to be the symbols that point back to the everlasting truth of the Gospel. And that, to me, is purpose enough.

“Your word, Lord, is eternal;

   it stands firm in the heavens.

Your faithfulness continues through all generations;

   you established the earth, and it endures.”

-Psalm 119:89-90

Speak Up and Do Not Be Ashamed

by Dominique

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Voicing your opinion to someone is hard. And when it comes to religion, we often shy away from the topic altogether. We don’t want to put ourselves in that situation, we don’t want to make things awkward or tense.

But it’s necessary to speak up about God. And we have the right — and the responsibility — to do it. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to get the courage up to ask people to stop cursing or using God’s name in vain. Maybe it’s because I’m an introverted writer so speaking out loud just doesn’t come naturally to me. Or is it, perhaps, that we are more afraid of what the kids will think of us when they realize we are one of those “religious freaks”?

As Romans 1:16 (“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”) so clearly says, we shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to speak of the gospel. But still, we stay quiet.

Here are a few reasons why I think, a lot of times, we don’t speak up to defend our religion:

  1. In my opinion, people are very sensitive these days. One little thing can set them off and next thing you know, you have a lawsuit on your hands. Over basically nothing. Most people don’t have much of a problem getting in a petty argument over who like what band or which movie, but with religion . . . that’s a whole another level. Real debates and fights can happen over God. Which is one reason why, I’m sure, us Christians are afraid of defending our God.
  2. I think another reason we’re afraid to speak up is that non-Christians usually have a very skewed view of Christians. There are many people in this world who believe in God, call themselves “Christians,” and then go curse and party and do things that God has explicitly forbidden us to do. That’s what most people think we are: hypocrites.
  3. Another thing is that we are inexperienced. We’re teens, we haven’t lived much, or studied the Bible much. We don’t know a lot about the Bible yet and we’re afraid that if we speak up, we might get something wrong and then everyone will just think we’re liars or that the Bible has major plot holes and is just a work of fiction after all.

So how can we fight these fears and speak up without looking like fools, liars, or hypocrites?

Well, there are a few more obvious solutions. Like studying the Bible more often so you know more about what you’re getting into when you go into a conversation about God (Colossians 4:5-6 says, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”). Or making sure you follow God and don’t fall into any of the devil’s traps — if you curse in front of your non-Christian friends, do you think they’ll really think you believe in what you’re talking about (James 1:26 says, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless”)?

But I think there’s really only one vital thing to remember: this isn’t our image we’re dealing with here — this is about people’s souls, where they’re going to spend their eternity. Who cares if, to them, you look like you’re a liar and a hypocrite? You’re really not — God knows you’re not — so it doesn’t matter. And besides, now that you’ve stood up to them, they’ve at least been introduced to God’s Word. They at least know someone out there is still fighting for what they believe in.

And that, to me, is more important than anyone’s self-image.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13)