There is more to Christian living than trying really hard to be good. More, but never less. Some Christians, I am afraid, don’t try hard enough.

When Paul spoke of Christian living he spoke of striving and straining and boxing and running. These are all very active metaphors. David Mathis says, “God’s work does not make our work unnecessary; it makes it possible. ‘I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me’ (1 Cor. 15:10). Grace does not just pardon our failures; it empowers our successes—like successfully enjoying Jesus more than life.”[1]

One of my favorite questions is this: Is Christian living active or passive? Is it trying hard or resting in the finished work of Christ? Is it working like crazy, or letting go and letting God?

I love this question because it is a little bit of both. Christian living is both trying hard and trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to do His work in me. It is both Faith is the Victory and I’m pressing on the upward way…

Some Christians don’t try very hard at all. They read a verse like this one:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 (NIV2011)

They wonder what Paul is talking about, “weary in doing good.” I think you ought to be tempted to get weary in doing good every now and then. I think you ought to push yourself to exhaustion every now and then. I think you ought to lay your head on your pillow dog-tired every now and then.

You shouldn’t stay there. Don’t be weary in doing good. The verbs in this verse are present tense verbs which suggest linear action. They suggest habit. Don’t make it a habit of getting weary. Don’t camp out at tired.

The Sabbath was given to man as a gift to the weary. It was given to ensure that we never stay tired. But we ought to get tired occasionally. We ought to need the Sabbath. There are really two commandments in the Sabbath command:

  • Six days you shall labor
  • One day you shall rest.

Don’t do the second and leave the first command undone.

— Josh Hunt, How to Live the Christian Life

[1] Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines by David Mathis

From R.C. Ryle…

Sanctification, again, is a thing which depends greatly on a diligent use of Scriptural means. When I speak of “means,” I have in view Bible-reading, private prayer, regular attendance on public worship, regular hearing of God’s Word, and regular reception of the Lord’s Supper. I lay it down as a simple matter of fact, that no one who is careless about such things must ever expect to make much progress in sanctification. I can find no record of any eminent saint who ever neglected them. They are appointed channels through which the Holy Spirit conveys fresh supplies of grace to the soul, and strengthens the work which He has begun in the inward man. Let men call this legal doctrine if they please, but I will never shrink from declaring my belief, that there are no “spiritual gains without pains.” I should as soon expect a farmer to prosper in business who contented himself with sowing his fields and never looking at them till harvest, as expect a believer to attain much holiness who was not diligent about his Bible-reading, his prayers, and the use of his Sundays. Our God is a God who works by means, and He will never bless the soul of that man who pretends to be so high and spiritual that he can get on without them.

Ryle, J. C. 1889. Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots. London: William Hunt and Company.