Is Growth Without Effort?

A story is told about a teenage boy who wanted to build up his muscles.  His father was very skeptical, but he took his determined son to the sporting goods store nonetheless.  There, they both went back to the store’s weight-lifting department, and the young son began to fawn over a shiny new set of weights.

“Please, Dad,” implored the teen, “I promise to use them every day.”

“I don’t know, son.  It’s a really big commitment on your part,” the father said.

“Please, Dad!”

“They’re not cheap, son” the father said.

“I’ll use them, Dad, I promise.  You’ll see.”

The father conceded to the son’s entreating, purchased the equipment, and headed for the exit.  After a few steps, he heard his son behind him say,

“What!  You mean I have to carry them to the car?” [1]

We all like the idea of getting stronger, faster, smarter, healthier, etc…  We all long for the rewards of positive gain.  Each of us at Macland Road wants to know more of God’s word.  We all want better prayer lives.  We each want to be considered a committed example in the faith.  We each like the idea of being better disciples, husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons, daughters, etc.  Every one of us desires that the church would grow.

Nevertheless, we often get shaken by the thought of hard work.

Daily Bible reading?

Praying without ceasing?

Teach the gospel?

Lead a Bible class?

Volunteer to serve?

We are often not all that different from that teenage boy in the sporting goods store.  Let’s not kid ourselves.  If we had it our way, we would gain strength without exercise.  We would choose the easy way if it led to great reward.  We like the thought of getting increase without effort.  But the problem with all of this is that it is neither realistic nor is it Biblical!

Christ Jesus sacrificed everything so that we might gain Him.  Working for our sake, He has done what we could not.  Now, he has called us to be his “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10).  Now that he has lifted away the burdens of sin, it is time to carry our own weight.

“Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27, ESV).

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).

“For each will have to bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5, ESV).

The Christian life is one of faithful diligence, work, burdens, and sacrificial living.  Our calling requires putting ourselves out there in great faith, rolling up our spiritual sleeves, and getting to work.  We will be put in uncomfortable situations.  We will grow tired.  We will feel like someone else would be better suited for the task.  Meanwhile, God is bringing growth to our lives.

Instead of recoiling at the thought of hard work, we should imagine the possibilities that God might bring forth within us when we meet His work with the faith of Moses, the courage of David, or the dedication of Paul.  May our hearts be accepting of God’s service so that we might experience the blessings of both personal and congregational growth.

What an exciting time at Macland Road!  What an exciting time to serve the Lord with gladness.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9, ESV).


Ready to grow with us?


[1] Story is from Pastor Tim’s CleanLaugh Collection by Tim Davis (Trafford, 2001).

About Barry Gilreath

Barry is the pulpit minister of the Macland Road Church of Christ.

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