Some people are downright lazy! When it comes to putting forth effort, these people will put forth only the “required effort” and no more. It is sad enough to live one’s life putting forth just enough effort and no more. However, to be lazy in one’s service to God is to threaten one’s eternal abode. There are many people who call themselves Christians but approach Christianity with as little effort as possible.
Such apathy towards service to God is inexcusable. Consider the apostle Paul’s command to the church in Rome when he wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). To present one’s self a “living sacrifice” is to go beyond what some would view as the minimal effort. To present our bodies (our lives) as living sacrifices to God is to put forth the day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and minute-by-minute effort of serving God.
True Christianity, true service to God, requires great effort. Consider the following areas which require great effort within our lives.
Worshipping the Lord requires effort. As Christians, we have a responsibility to God to come together to worship Him and to study His word (John 4:24). As members of a local congregation, we have a responsibility toward the leadership to assemble based upon their instructions (Hebrews 13:17). If the elders see edification in the congregation assembling twice on Sunday and once on Wednesday night, then, as members of this congregation, we should put forth every effort to attend all the assemblies of the local congregation.
Learning God’s word requires effort. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, ESV). If we do not put forth the effort to learn God’s word, then His word will be useless within our lives. Benefit from God’s word only comes when we study and apply His word. Time spent in Bible study must exceed the worship services and Bible classes. We must make time to study our Bible’s daily. Such effort will enable us to grow as Christians.
Saying no to temptation requires effort. With relative ease, we can so no to temptations which have no actual appeal. However, there will be many temptations which we may find appealing. We must be willing to put forth the effort to say no when we are tempted to sin. We must also put forth the effort not to allow ourselves to walk into sinful situations. The apostle Paul wrote, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14). Sometimes it takes a great deal of effort to say no when faced with the opportunity to sin. The Bible warns of the devil’s efforts to tempt us to sin (1 Peter 5:13). We must put forth all the effort possible to resist the devil and his temptations.
Letting our light shine requires effort. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Shining a light requires some type of energy, whether it is the flame burning the wax vapor of a candle wick or the electricity surging through the filament in the light bulb. In order for our light to shine before men, we must put forth great effort and energy. Our light shines when we “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7), living faithfully in the world, taking a stand for all that is godly. The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).
Evangelism requires effort. Jesus commanded His apostles, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, . . .” (Matthew 28:19a). The gospel of Mark records Jesus saying “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). As you examine the efforts of the apostles, as well as the first century disciples, you see great effort on their part in preaching God’s word. We have the same responsibility to evangelize, to preach the gospel to a lost world. However, to truly obey this command, we all must put forth great effort, both in our individual lives as well as the collective working of the local congregation. Running an advertisement in the newspaper is not enough. Having a yearly gospel meeting is not enough. Having a sign on the road side saying, “Visitors Welcome!” is not enough. To truly evangelize, each member of this congregation must put forth great effort to invite others to come and study with us as well as talk to others about salvation and Jesus Christ.
Showing care and compassion for one another requires effort. The apostle Paul wrote the following: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). Consider how busy your life has become. How much of the effort you put into your own life do you also put into the needs and well-being of other Christians? (This is a very challenging question.) Within our busy lives, we must make time to consider the needs of other brethren. While a card or a phone call may be sufficient during some situations, there will be times when you will have an opportunity to do much more. Stand ready to go the extra mile and to put forth the greater effort in seeing to the needs of other Christians.
Praying to God daily requires effort. A person might be tempted to argue as to whether or not praying to God requires effort. However, if we were to examine our daily lives, how frequently could we say we have prayed to God? Do we pray daily? Do we pray once or twice a week? The apostle Paul told the Christians in Thessalonica to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). To truly live our lives where we pray daily requires intentional effort on our part. Let us all make time to pray to our heavenly Father every single day.
To truly be pleasing to God, a Christian must put forth great effort. There is no type of effortless Christianity which leads to heaven. We must all work while it is day because a time is coming when no man will be able to work (cf. John 9:4). Put forth great effort today!