Taking the time to study key words in Scripture leads to greater understanding when we’re reading God’s Word. Not a profound thought, but one we tend to forget when we’re reading. In fact, most of what we do is skim the Word of God without taking the time to look beyond the words printed on the pages instead of prayerfully discovering their application to our lives. In other words, we should take the time to truly understand what God is saying to us in His life-giving Word.
As I was reading in 1 Corinthians 15 this morning, I stopped at verse 58 to do a little discovery while praying for more understanding. I want to know how to apply God’s Word to my life and how to hold myself accountable to it. It’s important to me even though I all too often miss the mark. But, it sets the boundaries for my thought life, my actions, my plans, my purposes and how I schedule my day.
Let’s look at this verse and pick out some key words:
“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.” (1 Cor 15:58)
This is not an unfamiliar verse to most believers. There have been innumerable sermons preached based on this Scripture. But, doing our own discovery in God’s Word makes it very personal as the Holy Spirit brings illumination to us and leads us based on our greater understanding. Here are the key words in 1 Corinthians 15:58 and their very simple definitions:
Steadfast. Firmly fixed in place.
Immovable. Incapable of being moved; not moving or not intended to be moved.
Always. At all times. Forever. Perpetually.
Abounding. Replete. Overflowing. Plenteous.
Work. Stewardship. Labor. Ordained by God as a means of fulfillment, service and praise.
Knowing. Being aware of. Remembering. Recognizing.
Labor. Toil. Expenditure of physical energy. Work for the production of goods and services.
Not in vain. Not without meaning, value or reward. Not meaningless. Not empty or futile.
First, let me say that this is not a full exposition of this verse, but a simple and logical overview of key words which will help us apply this admonition to our own lives. The purpose is to make it personal, not to get into the original languages.
If we dare to rework this one verse based on the simple definitions of key words, it might look something like this:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firmly fixed in place, incapable of being moved, at all times overflowing in the service and praise of the Lord, recognizing that in the Lord your toil and expenditure of energy is not without meaning, value or reward.”
When we apply the extended definition of the key words to this verse, we begin to recognize how it applies to our lives. We’ll find ourselves examining ourselves with questions like these:
How firm am I in my faith?
Would it be possible for a new or false doctrine to take root in me or am I truly incapable of being moved?
Am I always–at all times–overflowing in service and praise of the Lord?
Do I recognize or remember that the things I do for the Lord, the work I set my hand to, or the motive of my heart, is not without meaning or value?
Can I say that the work I do for the Lord is of value to the Kingdom and am I expending my energy for Kingdom purposes?
How does the way I spend my time measure up to 1 Corinthians 15:58?
Reading the Scriptures should always include self-examination. We should be hearing the voice of the Spirit as He points out areas in our lives where we are indeed fulfilling God’s purposes as well as areas where we may need to adjust our motives and direction in life.
Many believers begin the New Year with a vow to the read through the Bible throughout the year. And, while this is a noble and praiseworthy use of time, it is too often a simple skimming of the words on the page in order to keep up with the scheduled readings, allowing little opportunity for prayerful introspection.
Take your time in the Word of God. Allow the Spirit of God to speak to your heart. Hear the Voice of your Shepherd as He encourages you, admonishes you and leads you according to His precepts.
The Word of God is a treasure house filled with immeasurable wealth available to all who will seek the Lord through study of His Word. Be careful not to cheat yourself by simply skimming the Word in order to achieve a personal goal. Take the time to understand it and apply it to your life.
Father, help me gain greater understanding of Your priceless Word. Teach me how to look beyond the printed words and apply the meaning to my life so I may be a better equipped Kingdom ambassador. Amen.
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
© Jan Ross
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