It is true that talent is often needed to bring about success, but no one can rely on talent alone. Talent gives us the potential to succeed, but it does not automatically guarantee success. This is true in athletics, music, writing, gardening, and every other avenue of life. If we rely solely on our talents, all we ever will experience is a taste of success. Talent without hard work can only take us so far.
Effort is also required for our spiritual formation. I believe, though it is rarely spoken out loud, that many Christians think that spiritual formation is entirely God’s work. In their minds, what they need to do is to have faith, and God will take care of the rest. They don’t realize that faith is not a passive word. Faith is not just about what we believe, but it is our belief in action. Our faith should move us to do something. The way we live our lives should reveal the type of faith that we have.
But this eternal kind of life is not a passive life. Passivity was for the Israelites, and it is for us one of the greatest dangers and difficulties of our spiritual existence. The land promised to them was one of incredible goodness—”flowing with milk and honey,” as it is repeatedly described. But it still had to be conquered by careful, persistent, and intelligent human action, over a long period of time.
Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart, p. 42
God expects us to put forth effort to bring about transformation in our lives. In Colossians 3 the Apostle Paul tells us to set our minds on the things above (v. 2), to put to death certain behaviors (v. 5), and to put on a new life (v. 12). There are things we must do as we partner with God to bring about the transformation of our lives.
The Promised Land was the Israelites for the taking. God had promised this wonderful land to them, but they had to make the effort to conquer it. They could count on God going with them and giving them victory, but they had to fight the battles so they could experience the fullness of the promise God had given them.
God has promised us abundant, eternal life through Jesus (John 10:10), but we need to make the effort to experience this promise of life. If we just sit on our hands and expect God to magically change our lives, then we will miss out on the fullness of life God has promised to us. Passivity will not help us conquer sin and bring about the transformation that is available to us. (Tweet this)
We need to partner with God by making an effort to bring about the transformation of our lives. God wants us to experience eternal life, so we can be certain that He will empower, enlighten, and heal us as we throw off our old way of living and put on our new life.