“…thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 16:57.
When was the last time you felt totally defeated? Christ’s crucifixion on the cross was supposed to be the end of His ministry. The party-crashing Pharisees turned out the lights. The disciples fled. The women cried uncontrollably. But Jesus’ crucifixion led to the Resurrection–God’s ultimate victory– three days later.
Victory in our culture is such an illusive thing. And yet our culture is obsessed with it. Sports fans spend thousands of dollars for tickets and trinkets to express support for their favorite team, hoping they’ll witness their team’s victory. But regardless of the sport or the level of play, only one team can claim victory. In many cases fans can’t remember who won last season.
The seasoned salesperson strives to become top salesperson of the year, and does everything he or she can to win that distinction. Major league pitchers compete for the Cy Young award, given to the best pitcher in a given season. There’s only one top salesperson, one Cy Young award winner.
All those victories are fleeting. Trophies often collect dust in boxes in the attic. People set new records and old victors often fade into obscurity. Aren’t you excited that we have already won a victory we can never lose? Aren’t you thrilled that Jesus, in His worldly humility won us an eternal victory on the Cross at Calvary? A victory no one can rob from us, disqualify us for or win back from us. It is a permanent and it belongs to each of us who are true followers of Christ.
How often do you feel defeated in life? How often do you wish you would have made different choices? Do people see you as defeated when you walk through valleys of despair and discouragement?
When you feel that way do you suppose you’re reflecting the victory Jesus secured for us? Is that the picture of your life you want to reflect to others in your sphere of influence?
If you were to write your life story right now would it be one of harboring defeat or reflecting the victory Christ has won for you? We all have moments of defeat and failure in our lives. We all live with regrets when we reflect on the choices we’ve made. But if we understand the end of our story, if we know and believe where our hope and destiny lives we will live out the rest of the chapters of our lives with expectancy. When we live reflecting God’s glory our lives will be magnetic and draw the lost and the backslidden back to the Cross. The life story that reflects God’s glory is one only God can write. His victory must be reflected in our lives because that reflection is evidence of deep and abiding faith.
In order to reflect God’s victory we need to understand where our victory comes from.
We win our victory the moment, the second, we ask Jesus into our hearts and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. At that instant, in the twinkling of an eye” everything in our lives and world changes. We are free from the power of sin, we are free from the power of death, we are free from condemnation and the spirit of fear and we can immediately begin living in hope and God’s grace.
Then, when we leave this world, our lives change again, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye. There’s no waiting period, no admission, no notice, no hesitation. One moment you will be here on earth, the next breath you take will be in the presence of Jesus. It will happen at the sound of the last trumpet, signaling something brand new. A transforming power in us changes us forever. This transformation, and our knowledge of it, and our joy about it, we can reflect to others in our lives every day. Can you imagine how people around us would be impacted if we reflected the joyful grace of the victory won for us by Jesus on the cross?
At that same moment, the perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ” 1 Corinthians 15:54. Death is nullified and our sin is covered. This sting they call death is destroyed, because Christ is living in us and will forever.
Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 15:57 that Christ is the one who gave us this joyous victory. Then in the next verse Paul shows us practical keys to reflecting this victory.
1. Be steadfast — that word carries with it the idea of being firmly situated. Sinking deep in your faith. When we get in trouble ourselves whom do we usually seek out? Isn’t it those folks we know are deeply rooted in God’s word and are steadfast in their faith? Pastors? Mentors? Accountability partners?
2. Be immovable — The word in the Greek carries with it the idea of being still in the middle of God’s will. The world is crawling with people and things that long to knock us off point. When David wrote Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God” David knew two things. He knew He could seek out God and be assured God was not going to move from His love and grace. David also knew that in God’s presence David could be still and at rest and at peace. What an awesome thing it would be if in the middle of our trials and tribulations we could be still and immovable so others could witness our peace and rest?
3. Be always abounding — This means that in whatever we do we always exceed the bare minimum. Always doing more. Serving more after your serving is done.
Then Paul promises that all your toil will not be in vain. v.58. Why? Because all Jesus’ work in you, all the times you reflect the victory of Christ on the Cross, all the times Jesus’ life in you impacts people you don’t even know, or may never see this side of heaven, is all for the glory of God.
So, the next time you begin to feel defeated, think of Jesus death on the cross for you, think of the resurrection power of His you now possess. Think of the victory that is already won for you. Think about being steadfast, think about being immovable. Think about abounding in the power and glory of the Lord. You’ll be reflecting God’s victory. You’ll be glorifying the Father, and the Father will honor that with blessings for you.