I love the word “always.” It is one of the most important words in the Bible—“always.” So much Christian theology, promise, and hope radiates from this single word. Paul was fond of using “always” in describing so many aspects of the Christian life.
In 1 Corinthians 15:58, he wrote how Christians should be “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15 is the great resurrection chapter in the NT. Because of Christ’s resurrection, we too shall one day rise from the dead. This is our hope: a settled certainty and confident expectation based on the promises of God. Because of this guaranteed future, we are to be “always abounding” in the Lord’s work. Why? “Because your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
In Ephesians 6:18, Paul used “always” in the context of prayer: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.” Prayer is every Christian’s gift. God invites us to his throne. Though we cannot always be in the actual posture or practice of prayer, we can always be in the spirit of prayer.
In Philippians 4:4 Paul’s “always” surfaces again, this time to tell us that we should “Rejoice in the Lord always….” Only Jesus can bring a radiant noonday out of every midnight. Christ vetoes all hopeless sorrow. Did you know that “Gloom” and “Gleam” are the same words etymologically? Jesus makes them the same words spiritually! In his eternal grammar, gloom becomes gleam. “Rejoice always!”
In 2 Corinthians 5:6, Paul reminds us that “We are always confident . . . for we walk by faith not by sight.” Amidst the many vicissitudes of life, we Christians know our home is not this world; we walk by faith and not by sight. One day we shall see Him face to face and faith will become sight!
Paul was not the only one who made use of “always.” Jesus reserved this word for a very crucial moment. Just before His ascension, after he gave His marching orders to the church, he made a promise to us in Matthew 28:20: “I am with you always….” I’m so grateful for my Lord’s “always” here. He promises never to leave me nor forsake me. No matter what, He is with me… “always.” Always we fail in ourselves; but always in Him we are more than conquerors. Christ’s “always” changes everything!
In Worchester Cathedral in England, there is a monument with no name bearing the inscription of a single lonely word in Latin: “Miserrimus;” translation—“most miserable.” It is the tomb of Thomas Morris, one of the Canons of the Cathedral, who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new king William the Third in 1689. He had clung to the forlorn hope that the Stuarts would yet again be restored to the throne. His hope extinguished, he asked that the confession of his defeated loyalty, and nothing else, should be inscribed on his gravestone. Buried near the southwest corner of the Cathedral lies the body of a man “most miserable.”
Jesus Christ only occupied a tomb for three days. The grave could not hold the Prince of Life. Up from the grave He arose! Because of His resurrection, our King reigns forever! Long live the King! “Always”!
*Some material adapted from A. Smellie, Out of the Desert a Gift.