Steadfast, Unmoveable

1 Cor. 15:58.---'Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

This verse has a wonderful ring of confidence in it. It seems to be a kind of challenge to a godless world that has tried and broken its last weapon against the disciples of Jesus. St. Paul has been writing to the Corinthians of many things when suddenly he breaks in and tells them about death and the live beyond. He tells them of the Resurrection and the glory that is to be revealed to the children of God. People in those days were being killed for their faith. For man to become a Christian needed courage. In this chapter on the Resurrection St Paul shows them that for man to die was not the greatest misfortune that could befall him. Worse things can happen to people than that. It is worse for man to play the coward and fail of his duty. Seeing that we must all die, a worse thing can befall us than to die a few years before our time. It would be worse for us if we sacrificed our manhood, worse for us to betray our loyalty to Christ, worse for us to deny our faith and fail in our discipleship.

That is what St. Paul wanted these Corinthians to know. That is what he wants us to know---that what we call 'death' is for the Christian victory and gain. 'If,' says the Apostle, 'death is the worst the world can give you, and if death means victory, then be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. It is very striking and very expressive of the real spirit of the gospel that a chapter which leads us step-by-step through the calm process of logic, and through blowing passages of resistless eloquence to the sublimest thoughts of immortality, should at last thus close with the words of plain and practical duty.

The word 'steadfast' literally means 'seated.' It refers to something that is settled. So far as your convictions of truth and duty are concerned, be seated. Do not stand up in an attitude of readiness to change, but be seated as a man who has arrived and knows in whom he has believed. It is to be feared many are standing up today on questions relating to the soul, the souls destiny, and the souls God. The time we live in is an unsettled one. Old policies, old principles, old watchwords, are being tried and found wanting. And religion is also touched and influence by this deep and widespread unrest. Men are supposed to have opinions not convictions. But the just man lives by his faith in the great certainties of which the Apostle speaks, and without these settled convictions could be no more fit to be a leader and guide to his fellow-men than a firefly or glow-worm twinkling in the darkness. It is only when the great Christian verities are lifted above the debating ground of life that a man can face his burdens and duties bravely. No form of anemia is more weakening than to say that there is nothing worth living for and fighting for. Men do not become martyrs for opinions. They do not suffer the loss of all things for a philosophy or some form of new thought. It is conviction that counts, and the world will always make way for the man who suffers for truth's sake. It was under deep conviction that St. Paul said: 'I hold not my life of any account as dear unto myself, so that I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace of God.' Believe some things so strongly, says the Apostle, as to be willing to die for them. This is what the Church need supremely. She's needs men to have convictions, not opinions. Opinions accomplish nothing. Opinions are straw men, ready to be knocked down at the first breath of opposition. Opinions build no cathedrals. They write no great poems, and neither do they inaugurate great movements. Many years ago the Paris newspapers displayed, in flaming headlines, on successive days, the following news concerning Napoleon's escape from Elba: March 9, "The monster has escaped his den." March 11, "The tiger has arrived at Gap!" March 12, "The fiend slept at Grenoble." March 18, 'Bonaparte is only sixty leagues from the capital." March 20, "Tomorrow Napoleon will be under our ramparts." March 21, "The emperor is at Fontainebleau." March 22, "His imperial and royal majesty, yesterday evening, arrived at the Tuileries amid the joyful acclamations of his devoted and faithful subjects."

If you teach a man to keep his eyes upon what others think of him, unthinkingly to lead the life and hold the principles of the majority of his contemporaries, you must discredit in his eyes the authoritative voice of his own soul. Is it not our greatest weakness, religiously, that men believe only in a half-hearted way and are ready to change their belief for something more convenient? Is it not our weakness, commercially and financially, that men hold no convictions of what is right and just, but will changed their mind when a way to success opens up? Sit down, says the Apostle. If you have a belief hold to it. Do not let it escaped you. Suffer defeat rather than give up your convictions. Jesus told us to put God in His Kingdom and our duty to Him first. Let us believe our beliefs so strongly that to fail of our duty will be to make on our hearts a scar so deep and so festered that only the bitterest tears of repentance can wash it out. After steadfastness of conviction there must come the determination to be personally responsible for these convictions. Convictions imply one convicted. They are not impersonal ideas. They imply an unmovable attitude on the part of the one who holds them. It is one thing to have convictions, another thing to hold them against indifference and opposition. And not only to hold them, but to keep on holding them; not only to do something, but to keep on doing it. 'Be steadfast and unmovable'---steadfast in ourselves and in our moral condition, and unmovable against influences that may come from the outside world. The order of this entreaty shows where the greatest peril is. If we be established in ourselves, all the onsets of external fires will only serve to strengthen our position. But we must first be sure of ourselves. The Christian is by his very nature a reformer. He is first a reformer of himself. Next he is a reformer of his fellow-man. He tries to bring to bear upon him the same spiritual forces that accomplished his own regeneration. After that he becomes a reformer of society and the world. He is a man who is trying to make things better. He has his eye on an ideal manhood and an ideal world, before these he labors at whatever cost. But the test of his genuineness is his ability to hold on. Before Israel was two days out of Egypt, the vote and cry of the people was: 'Back to Egypt.' But Moses, the reformer, was the 'unmovable.' He persevered. He endured as seeing him who was invisible. When Jesus had reached the zenith of his popularity and the crowds began to desert Him, did He give up and go back to yoke making? No, He marched on alone, right up the hill of Calvary to a cross. When St. Paul was called to be preacher and reformer what was he did do? Was he to proclaim his message and if it did not meet with instant and complete acceptance was he to give up and go back to the old life? No, when the Lord Jesus called him it was not to popularity with the people, he was not commissioned to push Caesar off the throne and mount it himself. This was the word to Ananias: 'Go show Paul how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.' We must go on even when we find and we are going off; doing still, steadfastly, what we can. If we would be steadfast and unmovable in our religious convictions, we must 'abound in the work of the Lord.' In this the Corinthian Christians had failed. Instead of busying themselves in the Lord's work, they idly gave head to this and to that vain speculation which was brought under their notice. And many of them had given up their work because they thought that the end of the world was at hand---an unsettling thought. 'Go back to your work,' said the Apostle. When the Lord Christ comes we shall be readier to meet Him when occupied with our ordinary duties. For the work of the Lord is the same kind of work as the Lord himself does---good work always. 'Always abounding in the work of the Lord.' And most wonderful is the promise that no work is in vain in the Lord. To men apparent failure there may be, but it is a failure that succeeds at last. Christ is alive and takes pleasure in what we do. Because He is gone up into heaven, we shall share in His resurrection. It is worth our while then to labor that we may prepare ourselves for life so endurable and glorious. In Christ, timothy. maranatha