By Lewis Willis
In 1 Corinthians 15:58, the apostle Paul wrote: “Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”Besides being a well-known passage of Scripture, it expresses some essential ingredients in the attitude of the Christian and his approach to the consecrated life which God wants him to live. Inasmuch as you and I are seeking to grow in those attributes which God desires in us, I thought it might be worthwhile to examine this passage. I particularly want to get before us the meanings of some key words in this Scripture. Those words are emphasized in this paragraph.
The word translated “steadfast” is the Greek word hedraios. The word is defined in this way: “primarily denotes seated; hence, steadfast, metaphorical of moral fixity” (W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 73). Thayer adds, “metaph., of those who are fixed in purpose” (Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 168). What does the Christian learn from the meaning of the word “steadfast”? How will that understanding affect his approach to life? The answer is simple. The Christian who applies this message to himself will establish or “fix” in his mind a singular purpose. He will know how he is living and why. “Moral fixity” signifies settled values and actions. The Christian seeks to learn proper morals and he then commits himself to their practice. There is a great need for a moral awakening in our land and God’s people should be the ones who are pacesetters in a return to morality. This is what Paul means in telling us to be “steadfast.” There is purpose in our lives to serve God and that purpose manifests itself in moral goodness.
In reference to that purpose, the apostle says we must be ‘unmoveable. ” The Greek word here is ametakinetos which means “firm” (Vine, p. 90). Thayer adds: “not to be moved from its place, metaph. firmly persistent” (Thayer, p. 32). Thus, one who is “unmoveable” is one who is “firm” or “firmly persistent.” Webster says the word signifies that which is not capable of being moved; fixed; stationary; not changing from time to time; not varying (p. 552). Hence, the Christian has a lifestyle that is fixed and firmly established and it does not vary from time to time; from place to place; from person to person. He is persistent in standing for and defending his convictions. Therefore, these two words tell us to purpose moral goodness in our lives and not change from that goodness. This means that we are not only good people during the hours of worship or assembly but that we are good people all of the time. “Sunday only Christians” have always been the kind of people who discredit the religion of Christ the rest of the week. God does not want us to be that kind of people. He wants us to know what is right, and he wants us to do right without variation or, he wants us to do right all the time, every time.
The last word I wish to note is the word “abound.” The original Greek word is perisseuo. It means: “to be abundantly furnished, to abound in a thing,. . . to be preeminent, to excel, to be morally better off, as regards. . . the work of the Lord; exceed” (Vine, p. 18). Thayer adds: “to abound, overflow, to excel” (Thayer, p. 505). He says that the word is followed by virtues or actions in which one excels. The objective of the Christian should be to grow so that he is “abundantly furnished” in a knowledge of the word of the Lord, which enables him to excel, exceed or overflow in doing the Lord’s work. There seems to be a correlation between these three words which we are examining. (1) We are to be steadfast, or morally fixed or set in our purpose about the Christian life. (2) We are to be firm and persistent in the pursuit of that purpose. (3) Our efforts are not minimal; we are trying to exceed or excel our former efforts as we grow and do the work of the Lord. If we know where we stand, and if we are firm and persistent in that stand, and if we are always trying to exceed what we have done in the past which is good, there is no way that we will not be doing the work of the Lord.
Finally, Paul says, “ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” Our efforts in doing the work that God wants us to do are not empty, void of results or useless. When we live as God wants us to live, and when we are always trying to do better or more as God’s people, our efforts will not be empty or without results. More and more people will be saved. Certainly such an attitude and approach to life will result in the salvation of our souls. The Christian’s attitude is predominantly to save himself and others. Therefore, the question is: “Do we possess the Christian’s attitude?”
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 6, p. 175
March 17, 1988