Are You Putting Forth Your Best Effort?
Effort is a key ingredient in accomplishing any worthwhile task. Merriam-Webster.com defines effort as: “1 : conscious exertion of power . . . 2 : a serious attempt . . . 3 : something produced by exertion or trying . . . 4 : effective force as distinguished from the possible resistance called into action by such a force 5 : the total work done to achieve a particular end . . .” Let me draw your attention to the first three definitions. It is this usage of the word effort to which I would like to examine as it relates to our lives as children of God.
In our lives as Christians, we must put forth much effort. We must make the conscious decision to exert ourselves as God’s children. Living as a faithful child of God does not happen by accident. A Christian does not serve God without making a conscious decision to serve. A Christian does not say no to sin without making the decision to exert the necessary controls over his own mind. In order for faith (or conviction) to be effective, there needs to exist within the mind of the believer a conscious exertion in acting upon his conviction. Consider the following example found in Acts, chapter 2. Having been convicted of the sin of putting to death Jesus, the people, being “cut to the heart” asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:37-39). As the chapter later reveals, 3,000 people repented and were baptized. That is to say, 3,000 people made the conscious decision to walk away from their past sinful life and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The second definition of effort was “a serious attempt.” Christians must take the Father’s commands and expectations very seriously, that is with careful consideration. A child of God must consider all the Father has taught and take to heart the importance to walking as “sons of God” (Galatians 3:26; Romans 8:14). It is crucial we take to heart Hebrews, chapter 2, verses 1-4. The writer of Hebrews warns, “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?” (Hebrews 4:1-4). We see written within this warning a need for serious attention towards obeying the Lord.
The third definition of effort is “something produced by exertion or trying.” A great service can be produced within our lives as Christians; but only if we put forth the effort or the exertion. Consider the knowledge of God’s word gained by the Christian who studies daily. Consider the saints edified every time the Christian worships alongside other faithful Christian. Consider the good accomplished, the benevolence extended, and the lost brought to Christ when the Christian puts forth a worthwhile effort to do God’s will. The parable of the talents illustrates this truth. In the parable, a master entrusted three servants with talents or money. The master expected each servant to put the money to use, thereby increasing their allotted portion. Two servants did as the master instructed and gained money for their master. However, the servant to whom the master had given one talent was lazy and did not put the money to use. To this one servant, the master said, “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents” (Matthew 25:26-28).
The apostle Paul was a Christian, a child of God who put forth a conscious effort to seriously do all he could to serve the heavenly Father. Regarding this time of his life, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). The question for us to consider is simple. Are we, like Paul running the race with endurance? Are we putting forth our best effort in serving the heavenly Father?