Effort is Needed
Search for the Lord and for his strength;
continually seek him.
1 Chronicles 16:11
Sometimes, I think a day off would be really nice. Employers typically grant two weeks off every year. That seems equitable and fair. At one stint, I worked in the corporate world. Days off are treated as if they were gold.
This verse is saturated with responsiblity–our responsibility. To search implies definite effort. I lose my keys, quite often. I start a search– an investigation, to find them. I inevitably turn the house upside-down. They have to be somewhere! (Typically I find them in my pants in the hamper.)
But to be a searcher after God requires continual effort. He reveals Himself to me, but I never truly apprehend Him. He makes Himself known, but He is unknowable. It’s not quite the treadmill, because we do encounter Him. It’s just that we can’t pin Him down or put Him in a neat little box.
We are told that we need to hunt for His strength. Receiving strength is never a passive thing. This generation that I’m part of is inflicted with this contagion. We are essentially a very apathetic people. It goes against our grain when we step toward the Lord.
This verse ends with “continually seek Him”. We must put effort into this endeavour. For many, Christianity is pretty much a release from this. We come to Jesus, and we want to rest. But we are confused, our discipleship is going to be an effort. Does your walk make you work; does it make you sweat?
Three Translations of Joshua 3:5
Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”, NIV
Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”, NLT
Joshua told the people, ” Make yourselves acceptable to worship the LORD, because he is going to do some amazing things for us.”, CEV
The three translations of the same verse in Joshua each contributes a thought that adds to the whole. Very often we need to make a comparison like this to speed our understanding. There is a common theme of spiritual preparation. Also anticipated is a direct intervention by God Himself.
Joshua is charged with not only the physical, but spiritual condition of the people. He has sensed that God is going to amaze everyone, and He is on the verge of taking this mass of people through the river and into the Promised Land. This will be the fulfillment of an awesome covenant promise.
Joshua has taken the initiative. He declares the need of the people to prepare. They are about to be led by God. He builds anticipation for the grand things imminently approaching. But the Israelites have got to prepare. They must get ready. Effort needs to be made.
We have a strong tendency to see God’s promises apart from our efforts to prepare for them. We think God saves us by grace. But a faith that doesn’t work, cannot save.
“We are not made righteous by doing righteous deeds; but when we have been made righteous we do righteous deeds.” –Martin Luther
We cohabit with a Holy God who is like a strange roommate insists on sharing everything. (Everything He does, in some way He does for us.) “He picks up the tab” for everything! Joshua, on the other hand, has 12 hours to get Israel ready. The people must adjust. He declares that everyone make themselves decent, to cleanse themselves from sin and give themselves to God. Israel must do some things to get ready.
We must not enervate our faith to turn it into some religious jello— a blob with no backbone. Our faith must work, and sweat. If it doesn’t, we are in trouble. I’m thrilled to be saved by grace through faith. It is a precious marvel to me. But I must remember that the grace that saves is a grace that works. I don’t want my faith to be jello faith. I want it to be a living faith.
“As in the candle I know there is both light and heat, but put out the candle, and they are both gone.” Unknown