Last week, I wrote in this space about Christianity’s best kept secret, the grace of God. Contrary to what some would teach, God’s grace is still sufficient for us. We are saved by grace, through faith–not of works, lest any man should boast. And it is on God’s grace, only, that we stand.
Yet, on the other side, Scripture also calls us to “work out our salvation” with fear and much trembling. (Philippians 2:12) So, what is it? Should we be hard at work for God, or hardly working at all? Is our faith active, or passive; or perhaps actively passive, or passively active?
In so many ways, we mistakenly try to work our way toward God’s favor, as if there was anything we could do that would improve on the incredible sacrifice He made for us at the cross to pay our price in full. Yet, most of us have also discovered that when it comes to our daily walk with God, and our service for Him–like most everything else in life–we get out of it what we’re willing to put into it. Truly, we reap what we sow.
But here’s the good news for the confused. It’s not an either/or, and there is really no conflict between divine empowerment by God’s grace and human effort. As Dallas Willard used to say, “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.”
Whether it be in our individual walk, or our commitment to the community of faith we call church, the Christian life requires effort, and is often hard work. But never does that work nullify God’s grace, and never does it help us earn our way to God. Instead, it comes as a response to God’s work on grace in us and for us. And it’s always worth it.
Check out the common theme in these verses from the New Testament:
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door (God’s way)…” (Luke 13:24)
“Make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (Romans 14:19)
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)
“Make every effort to enter that rest (God’s rest for His people).” (Hebrews 4:11)
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” (2 Peter 1:5)
“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with the Lord.” (2 Peter 3:14)
God has done so much for us, and it’s so exciting to see how He is at work in the life of our church these days. Let’s be sure than in all we do in serving Him, we give Him our best and make every effort to serve Him with our whole heart and give Him the glory He’s due.
I’m praying for you, as I hope you are for me, and I look forward to seeing you Sunday.