Plod: to work with constant and monotonous perseverance
J.C. Ryle: “The world will let a man go to hell quietly, and never try to stop him. The world will never let a man go to heaven quietly- they will do all they can to turn him back.”
Sometimes, in the Christian life, our experience of God’s grace is such that we are skipping, dancing, even flying our way through the pilgrimage of discipleship. Most often, however, we are plodding. This is why faithfulness is required. We must grow in the grace of plodding, when no one but God is watching. “Entrust to faithful men…”
4 Vital Kinds of Plodding:
- Plodding to walk in Holiness
(personal purity, growth in Christ-likeness, in all the fruit of the Spirit and in faithful submission to Scripture)
1 Thess. 4.3-5: “For this is the will of God: your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God…”
James 5.7-8: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Col. 4.12: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.” In the writing of this letter, Demas greets the saints. Demas, who would forsake Paul and fail the churches. Men may fall, and we may grieve their falling, but we must plod on for the worth of Christ.
2. Plodding in the work of our hands
(Work ethic, keeping a home, disciplining and nurturing children, etc.)
Pro. 19.15: “Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.”
Ps. 90.12-17: “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How Long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”
1 Thess. 4.11-12: “…aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
3. Plodding to establish God’s house
(Praying for one another, walking in the light with one another, encouraging one another, caring for one another, preaching the gospel to one another, exhorting one another)
2 Tim. 2.8-10: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
1 Cor. 14.12: “…strive (plod) to excel in building up the church.”
Epaphras “worked hard” for the churches, both in prayer and in the making of disciples.
1 Cor. 15.9-10: “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Paul said, “I worked harder…” So was Paul working, or was it God working? The answer is, “Yes.” On the basis of faith, not feeling or mood or ease of circumstance, Paul worked- he plodded on- and at the end of the day he recognized that his own plodding was the very work of God’s grace through him.
4. Plodding to engage in the Lord’s harvest
(Praying for Gospel advance, preaching for Gospel advance, making disciples for Gospel advance)
Mt. 9.37-38: “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Mt. 24.14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Mt. 28.18-20: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Perhaps you’re weary. Mt. 11: “Come to Me, you who are weary….” Gal. 6.9: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap (eternal life), if we do not give up.”
Perhaps you’ve been lazy. Pro. 21.25: “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.” Pro. 12.11: “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”
Perhaps you’ve been slack in your pursuit of holiness… hiding sin, or making half-hearted confessions with worldly sorrow and making verbal repentance without real intention to crucify the flesh.
Heb. 12.14: “Strive (plod) for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Don’t be so concerned with the sins of others. You plod on for holiness.
Perhaps you’ve been discouraged or succumbing to the lies of Satan regarding your role in building up the church. Christ has declared, “I will build my church…” “Love one another…” “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” His apostles declared: “Forgive one another…” “let all things be done for the building up of the church.” “You are a nation of priests…”
Perhaps you’ve been indifferent to the call to engage in proclaiming the gospel and making disciples… indifferent to the lostness of neighbors and indifferent to the lostness of 10,000 people groups in the nations. “…do the work of an evangelist…” “proclaim the excellencies of Christ”
It will be a precious but rare thing in the pilgrimage of discipleship for these graces to flourish on the basis of spontaneous inspiration. Most of the time, these graces will increase in your life inasmuch as by faith, you resolve to plod on… to walk by faith and not by sight… to crack open the Bible again… to get on your knees again… to sing praise unto God again… to humble yourself and serve the brethren again…. To love your wife again… to submit to your husband again… to discipline your children again… to pray for open doors to declare the Gospel again…. To ask for the help of the Holy Spirit again… to put to death the deeds of the flesh again… To look unto Jesus, again, and again, and again, and again….
The life of faith is the life of plodding. We need to be extricated from a romantic view of spirituality, one which depends on moods and inspired moments, rather than the sure Word of God and the sweet, immovable promise of the Gospel. Faithfulness, in Biblical terms, can never be separated from faith itself.
“If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
1 Pet. 5.6-11: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
We are plodding toward a resurrection, and as D.A. Carson has said, “I’m not suffering from anything that a good resurrection can’t fix.”
1 Cor. 15.58: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
Your faithful plodding, when all the world is stacked against you, is not in vain, brothers and sisters. Let us plod on for the glory of the Lamb until that resurrection comes.