If you’re like me, every so often there’s a phrase in scripture that just keeps popping up time after time. In recent months, the phrase “make every effort” has appeared in various passages I’ve either studied or referenced as I prepare to teach on certain topics with reference to serving in the church.
As I began to look closer at each passage and see how it was being applied in context, I started noticing that most times, the phrase was included in a letter from either Paul or Peter. They were each writing to various churches scattered throughout the region about certain aspects of Christian life they wanted these early believers to pay attention to as they lived out the Great Commission command in their communities.
We know that our salvation is a free gift of God that He offers to us. Ephesians 2:8 reminds us, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves – it is the gift of God …” There’s not one thing we can do to earn or work for our salvation. We have no part in that process except to simply believe and trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross. However, we do have a part in our own personal spiritual growth process. Our sanctification is how we participate with God in the journey of his transforming work in our lives. We are the ones who choose whether or not we will take the initiative and make the effort to read our Bible, pray, and grow up in spiritual maturity.
As I studied more and began to look closer at the phrase “make every effort” I picked up on the sense of urgency from both Paul and Peter. I love this quote by Dr. J. Scott Duvall in his book “Getting the Most Out of Ephesians”: “Humility, gentleness, patience, and loving forbearance are not passive qualities. We have to be intentional and diligent in allowing the Lord to work these qualities into our lives. This word translated “make every effort” carries the idea of working with determination even when the task is difficult.”
Jerry Bridges writes in his book “The Pursuit of Holiness,” “The clause ‘make every effort’ addresses itself to our wills, it is something we must decide to do.”
As I seek to apply these “make every effort” verses in my life and relationships, I want to be more diligent to grow in these aspects of Christian life, just as Paul and Peter exhorted the early church to do. For each verse listed below, I found it helpful to ask the question “Am I making every effort to …?” on the front end.
I know the church is not perfect. But I also know that Jesus himself always calls us to a higher way, to a better way, to a more holy way. And sometimes I think we settle for just being not perfect instead of making every effort. Friends, we are called to make every effort to live in the way that Jesus calls us to live. And I think the church, of all places, should be the model for how we are supposed to do that. Jesus calls us to more.
- “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)
- “Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble.” (2 Peter 1:10)
- “Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found without spot or blemish in his sight, at peace.” (2 Peter 3:14)
- “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12)
- “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)