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Trying Harder

posted Oct 18, 2016, 10:52 AM by First Baptist

See if you can identify with the following quotation:


“In American Christianity, the good news of the death of Jesus is for the unconverted. Christians get the Law, instructions for living, steps and programs to be a better person. The focus is different. The emphasis is not on what God has done but on what we are to accomplish.


If Christianity is about our actions, Jesus is less the Savior and more a personal trainer. Jesus encourages us, cheers us on, and looks disappointed or delighted depending on our effort and success.


This is American Christianity, life on the good-works treadmill, going until we’re exhausted, falling off, getting back on, smiling through the pain, doubting God’s love, knowing our failure, wondering why we are the only people who seem to be struggling and fighting, damning ourselves, excusing ourselves, feeling overcome with frustration with God, with church, with the expectations and the failures, with it all.”*



I listen to a lot of sermons and this is often what it comes down to: work harder and do more.


A steady diet of this tends to result either in pride (“see how well I’m doing”) or despair (“what a screw-up I am”). Many Christians end up swinging from one to the other, depending on how they think they been “doing” that day, week or month.


However, consider these words from the Apostle Paul:


I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do.


For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.


What a wretched man I am!


Romans 7:15,18, 24

(emphasis added)



And so, having the best of intentions & working hard to carry them out didn’t seem to work for Paul. AND IT WON’T WORK FOR YOU EITHER!


In the place of working harder, God has given us the gifts of repentance & faith. Through repentance, we continually acknowledge our failures & inability to carry out the Law. We then fill ourselves afresh with God’s mercy and grace, the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ.


God has also given us His Spirit to empower us for holy living. We thus live our lives in daily dependence on Him – not on our own efforts.


Pastor Dan


*Quote from Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller