On faith: Abounding in the Lord's work
This time of year, beekeepers are harvesting surplus honey from their beehives. It's amazing to observe the comings and goings at the entrance of a beehive. But when I open up a beehive, I find the inside is even more impressive. A veritable city of bees with thousands of citizens labor ceaselessly in the work of baby rearing, food and water distribution, hive security, ventilation, and of course, honey production. Honeybees are a good illustration of verses in I Corinthians, where the Apostle Paul exhorts: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, 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 contains a command and a reason. The command to be steadfast is based upon the reason of God's promise. The word steadfast carries the idea of being settled into something with no plans on moving on to something else. The word unmovable speaks of our stable mindset which cannot be easily uprooted. Think of times when you have been busy at a particular task, and you find yourself "in the zone" and completely focused until the job is done. That's being steadfast.
Note also in this verse the word abounding. It means to "superabound" either in quantity or quality. It speaks of being in excess or abundance. A healthy beehive will produce make much more honey than it could ever use in one season. The bees superabound in quantity and quality of honey.
The word work refers to any great effort that occupies our time and energy. It may be our occupation or it may be some passionate pursuit. In this verse, however, it refers to the work of the Lord. Paul encourages us with the thought that any effort done to advance the work of the Lord will not be in vain. That's the promise! The word labor here refers to painful, troublesome, exhausting toil. A honeybee may travel up to twelve miles from the hive to obtain pollen or nectar. As she forages for nectar, she will visit up to 1500 flowers to fill her bee-sized stomach with a miniscule 70 milligrams of nectar. In her lifetime, she will produce a mere 1/10 teaspoon of honey. . Maybe you feel exhausted right now. Do you sometimes feel that the hard work you do goes unnoticed and unappreciated? Be comforted that the Lord is taking note of your pains as you faithfully serve Him. Labor accomplished through faith and obedience to God will always bear fruit.
Upon returning with her load of nectar, the bee passes it to house bees where it is worked like bubblegum in their mouths for about a half hour. This does several things. The complex sugars are broken down into simple sugars. In addition, vitamins, minerals, and antibiotic properties are added. Finally it is stored in a honeycomb cell where it evaporates through the efforts of thousands of little bee wings. When the moisture content reaches 17%, the cell is capped until needed.
Taken alone, each bee's individual contribution seems laughably insignificant. Hundreds could be killed without significantly affecting the hive. But taken together, every single bee counts and contributes to the process. God wants you to know that all your efforts do not go unnoticed. All those seemingly insignificant daily tasks, if they are done for God, really do matter. Every time you make an effort to pray, to spend time in God's Word, to share your faith, to love your neighbor, to love your wife or husband, to bring up your children right, to be a good employee or employer, to bite your tongue when needed, to speak up when required--the Lord is watching and blessing that effort. So stay firm and unshakeable as you do His work.
Rev. Joseph Whiting is the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Two Harbors.