How often do we hear Christians whine, “That’s works, not grace?” This is a common reaction to a convicting nudge toward accountability. Are we Christians in name only, living our lives the same as those who do not call Christ Lord?
We are called to give ourselves first to God and then to others. Giving ourselves to help others, spending time with the Lord and actually reading our Bibles may require effort, even sacrifice.
Sacrifice is often not doing what we want to do. Some call this works, not grace, but where in Scripture is grace opposed to effort? Grace touches all of us, but grace gets a firm grasp on our hearts when we begin to recognize what we have, more than what we want.
That recognition creates humbleness and a desire to be kinder, gentler and do more than tweet and post. Is a Christian defined by the icons, avatars and virtual friends that populate their internet and cell phone?
A Buddhist goal is to live and die without hurting anyone or anything, but those who claim to be Christians were given a talent; not to be buried and given back when the Lord returns, but to be invested in others. Investing in others requires effort.
Grace stands in opposition to earning, but not to effort. Dallas Willard once said that earning is attitude and effort is action.
Our minds are being formed by the people, activities and things we invest ourselves in. Discernment is putting forth the effort to choose the better thing over the good thing.
Grace is available to all who recognize their need. It is the way into the Kingdom of God, but in Philippians 2:12 Paul writes, “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” This does not mean anxious about losing our salvation. It means we must work out our salvation with great humility and respect not only for the grace given to us, but also as disciples, who want to live their life the way Jesus would.
If this does not require effort what does?