Effort not ability must always be our focus. God brings adversity and crisis into your life and mine for a specific reason. My friend, life’s a story, stayed tuned for more on This Passing Day.
What drives you; ability or effort? For many in America today it’s all about ability. We dwell on degrees, education, athleticism and awards. These demonstrate the ability to win, to be “number one”, and deserve acclaim. Is that what God wants for us as Christians? The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:20. “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” To put it another way, as my old boss at Ideals Publishing used to say, “It’s better to try and fail than to do nothing and succeed.” God did not make you or I to be losers, but winners. Yet, are we born with that ability? For that matter are we programed to achieve it? No. God is a gracious God but by no means gentle in his methods to teach us how to stay on the frontline of the spiritual battles in this life. He reveals the challenges. Our greatest efforts to sustain ourselves in these determines whether or not we stay out front or linger behind, vulnerable targets for temptation.
Here’s a story. There was an ancient Native American tribe in California, known for their extreme bravery and ability in battle as warriors. A method that warriors used to embolden themselves to the arrows of their enemies was to become, as they called it, invincible to the arrow. This was accomplished by first subjecting themselves to a whipping with stinging nettles. This continued until the pain and the inflammatory agents in the nettle made them unable to walk. Yet, they weren’t finished. Covered with welts and half conscious, the next day they had themselves carried to the nearby hills infested with colonies of stinging ants. Their still swollen bodies were laid atop the anthills and left to the mercy of the stinging ants, causing even more pain and adding to the inflammation. Bystanders even stirred the hills to make the ants more fierce in their attacks. They abided this abuse until, in a half-conscious state, they announced that they believed themselves invincible to any arrow their enemy could launch. (Source unknown)
God likewise challenges us to bear the extreme, in order to become the consummate grace abiders, frontline battlers, he ordains for us to be. Satan is real and his attacks through his surrogates, the world and our own flesh, threaten our very souls. To withstand these attacks and continue to abide firmly in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ on the frontline of this battle, we need to become spiritually invincible to them. Every evil arrow launched against us must be avoided or, at worst, suffered without a fatal wound if we’re going to be able to remain on the frontline of this eternal battle, side by side with our Savior. Effort not ability must always be our focus. God brings adversity and crisis into your life and mine for a specific reason. He isn’t tempting us nor is testing his prime motivation either. It’s motivating us to reach deep within for our best effort. Just as those braves, you and I need to look at life’s challenges with the same tenacious spirit of overcoming. Our goal in this life is invincibility, not acclaim.
We pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you that Christ is on the frontline of the battle against our spiritual enemies and are happy that you, by your grace, have invited us to battle side by side with him. We truly live in awe of your grace today. We are however often tempted to seek the praise of our fellow Christians for being the Christians that we are. Forgive us Lord when we look for praise and forget to put in the effort needed to stand with Christ. The sorrows of this life are many; help us to see them as opportunities for effort, not praise. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt 6:34)
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