This post is part of my series for Write 31 Days (writing on a prompt every day during the month of October). I may not be posting on the blog every day, but you can find an index page where all the posts in the series will be added here. The prompt today is “effort.”
Are we called to grow as Christians by our own effort, or do we grow by God’s work in us?
According to the Bible, it seems to be both.
Peter writes that “by his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT) but he goes on to encourage the believers to “make every effort to respond to God’s promises” (2 Peter 1:5 NLT) and therefore grow in knowledge, self-control and faithful endurance.
Paul writes, “We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort,” (Philippians 3:3 NLT) but he also teaches, “make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” (Ephesians 4:3 NLT)
Maybe it’s a question of finding the balance – recognising that salvation is not possible by our own efforts and we receive it in Christ alone, but also realising that we have a part to play in cooperating with God’s work within us, and that does involve making an effort.
I think people have a tendency to drift one way or the other – either feeling like it all depends on them and their efforts and losing sight of grace, or becoming complacent and passive, forgetting that God also calls us to play our part.
As Paul points out in Philippians 3:3, our own efforts shouldn’t be what we are relying on or where we are placing our confidence, but at the same time we are called to work.
We are called to make an effort, while still depending on God’s power:
“That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” (Colossians 1:29 NLT)