Trust and Striving

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Part of coming to Christ is the conviction that there is no righteousness in ourselves at all.  Don’t get me wrong, there are people out there who do good things. They help others and sacrifice of themselves. But compared to a blameless, Holy God, there is no one who is truly righteous. Jesus himself said there was only one who was truly good–God (Matthew 19:7).

But a funny thing happens when we give our lives to Christ and join the church. Often, we begin to feel the burden to become the kind of people the New Testament describes. And many take this burden and turn it inward. They try to become the people the New Testament describes through sheer will power. Some call it holiness. Some call it Christ-likeness. Others call it maturity.

And all of these things are virtues that the New Testament encourages. But, what happens is believers learn to live from their human willpower. They become good through their own striving. And they learn to accomplish living out the Christian life in the flesh–through the means that our human soul can make happen.

This works only until we get tired and then everything comes crashing down.

But there is another way.

The same Holy Spirit that softened your heart so you would accept Christ in the first place is the same Holy Spirit that wants to transform you from the inside. He actually is more willing to transform you from the inside than you want to be transformed. He wants to make you willingly–dare I say–happily holy.

Sometimes this is hard to believe because our growth seems to be moving so slowly. But it’s in these times that we must trust that God is doing more than we can understand. Sometimes He moves powerfully and visibly. Other times He is working in the background, setting up events to transform you that you couldn’t possibly imagine.

And it’s in these places that we have to content ourselves with the fact that He is God and we are not. He is the potter and we are the clay. We partner with Him in prayer and abiding. We remind God that there is work to be done in us. But we don’t approach God like we’re orphans. We have the trust of sons and daughters in a Father who has been faithful.

He will transform us. We don’t have to strive. We just have to give our attention to Him and He will change who we are.

So stop striving, loved son or daughter. Trust that the Father is good and has good plans for you. Remember:

If we die with him,
    we will also live with him.
 If we endure hardship,
    we will reign with him.
If we deny him,
    he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful,
    he remains faithful,
    for he cannot deny who he is.

2 Timothy 2:11-13

Photo Credit: In God We Trust by Gadgetman42

 

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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

3 responses to “Trust and Striving”

  1. Marshall says :

    “I’ve turned 15% of my attention to Christ and I don’t understand why He hasn’t yet transformed me — but people at church say I’m doing pretty good.”

    are you hearing of something like this beneath the chatting of holliness and maturity?

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