“Don’t try harder. Trust deeper.” You’ve heard that, or like me, you’ve said it. Ok, fair enough, I get it—but it is missing something.
Mainly, biblical thinking.
We should tell people to try harder, because the Bible says so.
People need to hear more than “try harder”—amen, but not less. Christians need gospel, and goading (Ecclesiastes 12:11), or prodding, or correction, or rebuke (2 Timothy 3:16), and sometimes a nice spiritual kick to the rump to help him get in gear (1 Thess. 5:14). It’s hard to kick against the goads. Gospel goads are a good thing. Grace is a force, a Holy Ghost gravitational push and pull toward holiness.
Pastors and leaders need to preach the gospel and apply it with a grace-empowered “try harder” because God is at work in you (Philippians 2:12-13).
A gospel that isn’t dialed into the Christiformity of the Christian isn’t the full gospel. The likeness of Christ is where God is taking us (Romans 8:29), and that takes marathon like endurance (Hebrews 12:1-4).
These verses sure sound like God telling us to “try harder.”
- Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14 ESV)
- Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11 ESV)
- Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27 ESV)
- …Strive to excel in building up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12 ESV)
- For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge…And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. (2 Peter 1:5, 15 ESV)
- And try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:10 ESV)
- Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. (2 Peter 3:14 ESV)
Leader, tell ’em to try harder, to trust deeper, to believe the gospel again—repentance is action. Christian, try harder and trust your Jesus, it honors him.