1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)
The sign read, "House for Rent. Hot and Cold Running Water."
Though laughable now, there was a time when having indoor plumbing was a luxury that only the wealthy knew anything about. Water was drawn from a well or creek and was carried indoors. Getting hot water meant cutting wood and placing cold water in pots in the fireplace or on a wood-burning stove.
On a recent mid-August trip through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, my wife and I noticed the tree leaves in the highest elevations turning. Odd this early, I thought, but then again, that's what tree leaves do. As the summer season draws to a close and the daylight hours get shorter, the leaves lose their luminescence and reveal their natural colour. The yellows were shining through beautifully.
Christians shouldn't run hot and cold or change seasonally like tree leaves. Paul encouraged the early believers to be steadfast in their love for the Lord, as well as in their work for Him. Only by steadfastness would they be able to fulfill Jesus' great commission to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.
We hear a lot about pastors burning out and leaving the pulpit, but I've known quite a few regular Christians who burned out, too. Burnout can come from trying too hard to alleviate feelings of guilt over past sins, from wrong motives for serving, or from trying to boost one's self-esteem.
Another entire set tends to drop out rather than burn out. Among 18- to 22-year-olds, around 70% drop out of church after graduating from high school. Reasons they give for doing so include life changes, needing a break, moving away to college, work interference, judgmental or unfriendly pastors or church members, a change in their views, or an acknowledgement that previously they were only trying to please someone by attending.
God's work requires steadfast determination. The abundant life that Jesus offers requires the same. Otherwise, we'll change like the leaves or run hot and cold like water. The power to remain steadfast doesn't lie in us, but in God's Spirit indwelling us. He provides the want-to that keeps us keeping on — and for the right reasons.
Don't run hot and cold or turn like the leaves. Serve God with consistency and diligence.
Prayer: Father, enable us to check our motives for serving You, and then, give us staying power to serve You faithfully until the end. Amen.
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