This is the fourth and final week of our four week series we have called “Labor in the Lord.” We hear in the writing of Paul, that in the Lord our labor is never in vain. It may seem what we do for God does not accomplish anything, or we are not convincing people to become a disciple, or perhaps we think when we serve we are not making anything better. But when our labor is done in the name of the Lord there are always benefits. On our own we can do very little, but when we labor in the name of the Lord, God will accomplish much through what we are doing.
Three weeks ago we used the Sunday readings to reflect on laboring for the Lord with a context of the least are made worthy. We may never feel ready, or adequate to be a laborer in the Lord, however God makes us ready. There is nothing God will give us to do that requires more than we are able to accomplish.
Two weeks ago we looked at how we are challenged to speak well from the heart. We must be rooted to receive living water, bear the fruit of the Spirit, and to sustain life. We sustain faith knowing Jesus provides new life, and with a good attitude our heart speaks well. We saw in the readings a transforming message to be led by our heart so that we may do all we can for God.
Last week our readings had us looking at the merciful Father. In this first reading David comes to learn that his trials were leading him to be King and that it was God’s goodness and mercy that protected him. Paul spoke of our earthly and heavenly body, both coming together to be the image of God. Despite our sinfulness the mercy of God leads us to this glorified image. In the gospel we were taught by Jesus that we must be merciful as our Father. The week’s readings revealed the common idea that mercy is required to create the Kingdom of God.
This week our readings have us looking at our fruits, we know what is good by its fruit and we also know what is evil by its fruit. We see that we must learn to be students of Jesus, to be formed like a potter who forms clay, so that when we are called upon to labor for the Lord the fruit we bear will be good fruit. Always we must learn from our teacher and we must always seek forgiveness when needed. In time we will be ready to labor for the Lord and our labor will bear good fruit, bringing glory to God.Always we must learn from our teacher and we must always seek forgiveness when needed. In time we will be ready to labor for the Lord and our labor will bear good fruit, bringing glory to God. Click To Tweet
The readings this week are from the Lectionary for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time; Sirach 27:4-7; Psalms 92:2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58 and Luke 6:39-45. These readings guide us this week to produce good fruits and to be known by the fruit we produce.
The reading from Sirach writes about produce, a potter and the fruit of a tree indicating we know when these are ready, and it is easy to see when care has been taken to bring them to readiness. These are contrasted to the person who speaks, they cannot help but show their faults, if they are just (or righteous) and if they deserve praise. The author is indicating we will know the fruits of a person by how they speak and behave. It is a teaching about avoiding sin, doing nothing hateful and pursuing justice always. As followers of God we should let our fruits glorify God. If we stay connected to God, if we are always on the vine then we will be righteous, our labor will be good and we will be people glorifying God through our life and our deeds.
In the second reading from First Corinthians Paul is speaking about resurrection. Thanks to Christ we have life eternal and our earthly bodies can become heavenly bodies. Death no longer has control over us, Christ has conquered death, it no longer has any sting. There is victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has the power of life. Jesus’ fruit is to give us eternal life. He accomplished his work by doing the will of the Father. Jesus was devoted to the work of the Father, as Paul is teaching us to always be devoted to the work of the Father. Paul says if we labor in the Lord our labor is never in vain. If the fruit of our hands is devoted to the Lord our labor will always bear good fruit. Like Christ, devoting all we do to the Lord, we can bring victory as well. Being fully devoted to the work of the Lord, God will convert our work into victory as he did with Christ. Our labor will always bear good fruit when we labor in the name of the Lord.
In the gospel reading from Luke Jesus is sharing a parable, it seems to come in several parts, a blind person cannot lead another blind person. A student will only ever be as good as the teacher who teaches him. A sinner cannot judge another sinner until they have been acquitted of their own sins. Then Jesus sums it up. A tree is known by its fruit, if the fruit is good it will bear good fruit, and we only get fruit from a fruit tree. This is true for people. We are known by the fruit we produce. A good person produces goodness from the heart and an evil person produces evil, also from the heart. If we see someone doing good we know their heart is good. Someone doing evil is also being led by the evil in their heart. In all things we must learn, be a good student with the right teacher and always seek forgiveness when we have wronged. Learning these things our heart is formed for good and we can produce good fruit letting our labor bear glory to God. We have to let our heart be formed through the teaching of Jesus, and then what we do will glorify the Father. We will bear good fruit and labor in the name of the Lord. Always, we must form our heart before we speak in the name of God.
We learn from these three readings that God expects us to be known by the fruit we bear. If we are disciples who are good, who have been formed in the teaching of God than we will bring goodness and glory to God. As students of Jesus letting Jesus teachings guide us and our relationship with Jesus form us, we will bear good fruit. We must let Jesus be our gardener, or rather using Jesus words in John let Jesus be the vine, and we the branches. (John 15:5) Remaining attached to the vine we will always bear good fruit. Our fruit will glorify God and our labor for the Lord will never be in vain. When we do God’s work, others will see our labor and want to be bear good fruit as well, so they like us can be with our Father.
Known by our fruit
To be known by our fruit we have to care about what our labor provides. We require discipline and training to be the best at what it is the Lord wants us to labor and toil completing. As we read in Sirach we must have a teacher, we must learn everything we can from that teacher, achieve at least our teachers level of competency. When we are ready then we must do the work, and do it to the best of our ability, doing the labor in the name of the Lord.
Deciding what to work on and how to train should be something we discern in prayer and listen to God’s response to our asking. We might think that the work we do to support our family, or to live a certain lifestyle is our call from God and maybe it is so. But we have received gifts from God and there are activities that bring us joy, when these two things come together it might be where we are called to labor for the Lord. If this doesn’t bring satisfactory compensation, trust in the Lord and see what will come. But, even if we stay in a job that pays well but we don’t feel satisfied in doing or feel like we are working for God, do that job in the name of the Lord and see what will come. God has ways of using whatever labor we are doing for his good. Trust God and always labor in the name of the Lord.God has ways of using whatever labor we are doing for his good. Trust God and always labor in the name of the Lord. Click To Tweet
Returning to the fruit of our labor, it is really up to God to turn our labor into good fruit, but it is up to us to be ready to bear good fruit. Recently I saw parts of the 2019 Oscar Awards. Maybe people think these award shows are kind of self-serving and ego fulfilling, which can be true. I look at these awards from miles away and wonder why every industry isn’t doing the same. It has to be wonderful to get feedback from your peers on your work. Who knows better how hard you work, how much you achieve and how much you contribute (besides God) than those who do similar work. So while the Oscar’s stand alone I would love to see every industry have their own kind of Oscar’s. But I am off track.
In watching this year I was touched when Lady Gaga and her team won the Oscar for Best Original Song. Perhaps we look at celebrities from Hollywood, or Sports, even Youtube celebrities and think they are so lucky. How we wish we would have the same luck as these stars or celebrities. But in winning the Oscar Lady Gaga, who seemed genuinely humbled, thanked many people and then addressed everyone else. She said, “If you are home and you are sitting on your couch, all I have to say is this is hard work. I worked hard for a long time and it is not about winning. What it is about is not giving up. If you have a dream fight for it. If there is a discipline have passion and it is not about how many times you get rejected, or you fall down or you are beaten up, it is about how many times you stand up and are brave and keep on going.” I don’t really know Lady Gaga or her story but I think her words apply to us when we want to be known for our fruit.
We can’t just pray and hope to do good work for God. We have to work hard, we have do whatever it takes and no matter how much people will tell us we are wrong or we are not understanding what God really wants of us, we must be disciplined and use our passion, we have to ignore rejection, learn from failure and use our suffering and pain to become stronger. You always have to stand up for the will of God and be brave. What will be easier for you than might be for a celebrity is God will turn your fruit into multitudes of success. We may not see it but with God a little good can go a very long way.We can’t just pray and hope to do good work for God. We have to work hard, we have do whatever it takes and no matter how much people will tell us we are wrong or we are not understanding what God really wants of us, we must be… Click To Tweet
We are called to labor for the Lord which requires we learn, we train, we depend on a teacher and we let our heart be filled with all the good that God wants us to do. When our heart is ready it is then that God will depend upon us to labor for the Kingdom. To have good fruit is hard work but with the help of the Lord it will seem easy for us. When our training is complete our heart will be good and we will be proud to be known for our fruit.We are called to labor for the Lord which requires we learn, we train, we depend on a teacher and we let our heart be filled with all the good that God wants us to do. When our heart is ready it is then that God will depend upon us to… Click To Tweet
Labor in the Lord
Over the course of this four week series we have looked at our labor in the Lord. We know that if we labor in the name of the Lord our labor will not go in vain. If we want to be good laborers in the vineyard, than we must let God make us worthy. On our own we could never be worthy to be a sign from God, but with God’s grace we become worthy. Becoming worthy we must protect our heart because it is the heart that leads us. If we have a good heart we will bear good fruit, with evil in our heart will be produce evil. Building up our heart we don’t have to worry about mistakes or falling because God is merciful. In justice we receive what we deserve but with mercy we receive what we do not deserve. God always gives us mercy. By protecting our heart and learning from Jesus we can be formed to bear good fruit, and thus be known by our good fruit.
God needs our labor. God depends on us to fulfill his plan. It is through our formation in God that we become worthy and bear good fruit and in times when we need it we rely on the mercy of God to help us. When we labor with a merciful heart, God uses our labor to show others what it is like to be a disciple and to come to God. We must labor, so we should let our labor be in the name of Lord. Laboring for the Lord and proud of our worthiness, always showing mercy, it is our good heart that leads and bears good fruit.When we labor with a merciful heart, God uses our labor to show others what it is like to be a disciple and to come to God. We must labor, so we should let our labor be in the name of Lord. Click To Tweet