Sometimes Christians are counseled not to be “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” The idea here is that an inordinate focus on the life to come can cause us to neglect our duties in the present. Certainly, it is possible for us to focus on the future life in glory in such a way as to make us think that we need not be so concerned with life today. However, the problem is not heavenly-mindedness per se but a misunderstanding of what heavenly-mindedness entails. In fact, Scripture assumes that when we rightly think about life in glory, we will be of much use on the earth. We can draw this conclusion from today’s passage, which concludes our study of 1 Corinthians 15.
Remember that Paul has been emphasizing the certainty of our resurrection in this chapter. Christ’s resurrection is so inseparable from ours that the reality of His resurrection means that we will surely be raised as well. Our bodies will not be resurrected until the last day, but they will surely be resurrected, for Jesus has conquered death (vv. 1–57). What are the practical ramifications of this truth? Paul says in today’s passage that being convinced of this truth means that we are to be “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (v. 58).
Confidence in the coming resurrection and our glorification will lead to active service in the present because we will recognize that our work is not in vain (v. 58). In this world, Jesus tells us, we will have trouble (John 16:33). The devil will throw everything he has at professing believers, seeking to destroy us and to make us abandon the faith (see, for example, Rev. 12:17). God, certainly, will preserve to the end all those whom He has saved, and we persevere through confidence that Jesus will return and finish what He started by renewing us and all creation. The evidence of God’s preserving work is that we continue holding on to Jesus even under pressure, knowing that if there is no glory waiting for us at the end of our earthly service, this service is futile (see 1 Cor. 15:17–19). Knowing that resurrection glory and reward await us, we are encouraged to do even more good in service of Christ. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 15:58, John Calvin writes that Paul “says that their labor is not in vain, for this reason, that there is a reward laid up for them with God. This is that exclusive hope which, in the first instance, encourages believers, and afterwards sustains them, so that they do not stop short in the race.”