Grace is Opposed to Earning But Not Effort

10 March 2021

“I will tell you exactly how to get an A in this class,” said Dr. Huffman. It was my first day of Greek II, and I was already terrified! I had heard stories of students staying up late into the hours of the morning, spending endless hours memorizing flashcards and conjugation tables, and working to finish homework just before the deadline.

And yet, Dr. Huffman stood at the head of the classroom, telling us exactly how to get an A in his class. Included in his syllabus was a study guide that laid out exactly what to memorize on which weeks, which concepts to have mastered on what dates, and how often he would recommend going over flashcards.

Here was this professor, teaching this terribly difficult course, telling us exactly how to succeed in his class. And yet, despite the tremendous clarity and even mercy that Dr. Huffman was showing us how to succeed in his class, almost none of us would do what Dr. Huffman told us to do.

It was because, despite his gracious invitation to do as he told us to do, we didn’t want to put in any of the real efforts to really succeed.

This is tragically all too true in our walk with Jesus. Despite him handing us a very clear, detailed, interesting instructional guide on how to become like him, we still do not want to put in the effort.

We wallow in our usual issues, problems, and excuses – all the while ignoring the promise in 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

Peter, the disciple that constantly put his foot in his mouth, fell out of the boat, and who denied Jesus publicly tells us boldly that we have everything we need to follow him. Despite the conventional stories and wisdom of the day, human beings have been given the power to become Christlike. Still, the flesh sometimes makes it difficult to follow Jesus’ teachings.

Try forgiving the person who cut you off on the freeway, or your spouse or your friend of a careless comment, let alone praying for your enemies, and you will quickly find the truth of what G.K. Chesterton said: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Dallas Willard once said: “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.”

When we receive the gracious provision and invitation of Jesus, our savior, and teacher, we can invest our whole selves into the process of mortifying our flesh and sowing to the Spirit knowing that it’s a worthwhile effort in living more fully into his grace.

Pastor Ryan Lunde
Young Adult Ministries