The Lord will decide what our work is worth: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58
July 9, 2014
I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain. Isaiah 49:4
Haven't we all felt this way at times and perhaps said similar words? We put so much time and effort into a project, and yet at the end of it all, where are the results? Perhaps it involves a gospel outreach effort, or a children's work. Maybe we've sought to resolve a problem or disagreement or to present Christ to a neighbour or co-worker. Possibly our efforts have been much closer to home within our own families. All of us spend much energy seeking to do things for Him. And yet, sometimes, regardless of our labours, we end up with not much to show for it all. Instead of success we see failure or at least not the changes and outcome we had desired. We used up all our strength and are left feeling exhausted and maybe even wondering why we bothered in the first place. I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain. I couldn't have said it better myself sometimes!
Do you know that Christ said similar words?
Most would agree that these words in Isaiah 49:4 is the language of Christ, the Messiah. Therefore, it is Christ Himself that said, "I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain." How is it that the Redeemer of the world could say such words? His labour, vain? We know how great a work was accomplished by His death on the cross. He was the only One that could make atonement for our sins and thankfully He did just that, becoming the Mediator that we so desperately needed. How could His labour have been vain or useless? And yet, Isaiah prophetically wrote, "I have laboured in vain." I say this carefully, but if we consider Christ's years of ministry on this earth, the results in that day were minimal. Although some received Him, the vast majority rejected Him. Regardless of all the love shown to everyone, very few turned to Him. Day after day He ministered to countless multitudes, however, most often, instead of a welcome He was unwanted. Successful? Compared to the extent of all His labours the results of His ministry seem small.
"I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain."
If the Redeemer of the world could say these words, is it any wonder we, as His servants, have occasion to feel the same way at times?
But Isaiah 49:4 continues...
"...yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God."
I like the wording of the New Century Version...
I have worked hard for nothing: I have used all my power, but I did nothing useful. But the Lord will decide what my work is worth: God will decide my reward.
Our work may seem useless; little fruit despite so much labour. But regardless of our feelings, here is where our thoughts must rest... the Lord will decide what our work is worth. I love repeating these words to myself... the Lord will decide what my work is worth. It is not up to me to decide. I am to labour and spend my strength on what He has given me to do. It is not me who should judge whether my labour has been a success or not... the Lord will decide. He who sees the whole picture will decide my reward. What a comfort. What peace and rest these words bring to me. In spite of my estimation (or the estimation of others) it is the Lord who will decide.
Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 15:58, Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
And again in Galatians 6:9, Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Be encouraged! Labour on and leave the results with the Lord. He will decide what your work is worth. He will decide your reward!
The words of this hymn, composed by Henry Baker, (Believer's Hymn Book #387), say it so well...