1 Corinthians 15:54-58 English Standard Version (ESV)
When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.
If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you may take for granted the wonder and absolute amazing work of Christ on the cross. I know that on a daily basis I do.
There’s this feeling. It always starts in discontent. General malaise that starts down deep. A restlessness that cannot be relieved. It makes me clean my house and get the clutter out, trying to dissipate all the things that do not belong. It makes me start new knitting projects and search deep for the things I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
It gathers steam like a freight train making me leave my house and walk or run so many miles with lines of songs and scripture repeating in my head. These lines often carry a theme and I hardly recognize it until one day it clicks. Two years ago it was grace, unending and glorious grace and how to be brave in accepting and extending that grace to others. They’ve begun to build upon each other as the years roll by. I’m learning to expect and even look forward to this time, sitting in that uneasiness, learning to feel it, anticipating the bursting forth of this year’s lesson.
Lately, the Lord has prompted my heart to come back to these past themes and see them plainly. Not with my eyes glazed over trying to check off my Bible reading for the day. He’s renewing my heart when I get down on myself for falling into old patterns of self doubt and anxiety.
The theme God is teaching me this year is victory. He has already robbed the grave, and has given me victory over sin. Jesus provides victory in the broken places. It is in the glorious grace of the cross where I bring my messed up brokenness, my shortcomings as a friend, as a wife, as a mother, as a pastor’s wife. It’s to the cross I’m reminded to start, end and run to daily while I continually need the grace of the living God. But already in victory, Christ has waged war for my soul and won.
These verses in 1 Corinthians remind me to put off the perishable things. I’ll never live up to everyone’s expectations, I’ll be lonely sometimes, I may never have many local friends who understand the dynamics of full-time ministry. It just is what it is.
But there’s a glorious ending in this. God already knows. He knew before I was even formed in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). He knew I would feel all these things and more, but He also knew He had given me His Word to guide and lead me into an imperishable life in heaven and to have victory over the things that hold me captive to myself.
Honestly, it’s like he had Paul write verse 58 for me, not just the Corinthians. “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.”
“Don’t waiver,” He’s saying, “don’t bother looking to the left or the right (Proverbs 4:27), keep doing My work, My work will always be good.”
It’s about the issue of the heart with me, Jesus has claimed this victory allowing us to no longer have to carry the shame of the past. We don’t have to mull over that awkward conversation, or push ourselves through the wringer because we’ve yelled at our children once again. We can ask forgiveness from Jesus and the offended party, and we can move on learning from but not revisiting this mistake.
It’s the power of sin (the law) that builds walls and keeps us from experiencing and moving in freedom away from our sin and shame. He has given us victory over these sins, from the smallest to the largest, from our past, present, and even the future mistakes we don’t even know about yet.
What might the Lord be trying to press into your life lately? Is it victory? Grace? Love? Perseverance? Pay attention to those things around you, but first and foremost get into His Word. Let it challenge you, let it change you.
More Victory Verses: 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, Romans 8:1-4, Romans 8:37, 1 John 5:4
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