Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
I want to thank whoever came up with the "brilliant" idea of Powerschool which enables students to have 24/7, real-time access to their grades. Being the parent of a daughter who has an uber-driven Type A personality, you have added a great deal of unneeded angst and stress to our household. Out of nowhere, with a simple click of a button, a flood of anxiety and frustration can wash over her.
The academic pressure placed on students living in a culture that says grades are everything suffocates many. I've witnessed this firsthand with my young one. A test score of 83 sends her spiraling. It's in these moments where we have to force her to slow down and gain some perspective. We do so by asking her a simple question: Did you do your best?
Her answer is almost always yes. And then we remind her again of one of our family values: give it your all regardless of the results. The only thing one can control is their contribution. Effort matters more than results.
Today's passage seems to line up with this mindset. Timothy gets a challenging word from his mentor Paul: do your best to present yourself to God as one approved. God grades on the highest curve imaginable. Through Christ's work on the cross, we all make the grade due solely to His grace.
So, presenting yourself isn't about earning, proving, or justifying. Rather than pressure, it's a free invitation to participate and truly experience the full life Christ promises us.
Unfortunately, if I am honest, instead of maximum effort on my part, I'm guilty of going through the motions. I procrastinate. I let fear and convenience win. I do the bare minimum. I settle for surface change rather than internal transformation. I'm betting I'm not alone.
We're often the obstacle standing in the way of our breakthrough. It's not that faith doesn't work; it's that we don't put the work in to grow our faith. We have the greatest say in the person we are becoming.
Other translations of this passage use the expression "make EVERY effort." In God's Kingdom, effort matters more than results. All God asks of us is to display obedience and step out in faith. What happens afterward isn't on our shoulders. God says, "do all that you can with what you've been given and then trust me with the rest.”
When it comes to your faith, where are you giving SOME effort, but not EVERY effort? What would it look like for you to show up in this place?
God, I want to live boldly and courageously. I know this will only occur if I do the work to transform my mind and set my eyes on You. I commit to making every effort to allow You access to every part of me. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.