“She hates me, Nigel.” complains a character in the movie The Devil Wears Prada to one of her co-workers. “I don’t know what else I can do. If I do something right, it is not even acknowledged, but if I do something wrong she is vicious.”
“So quit.” says Nigel calmly as he goes about his work. “I can get someone to replace you in a minute. Someone who really wants this job.”
“That’s not fair!” Andrea retorts. “It’s just that I am killing myself trying…”
“Andie, be serious,” Nigel replies dryly. “You are not trying, you are whining. What do you want me to say? Poor you? This place, where so many people would die to work, you only deign to work - - and you wonder why she doesn’t kiss you on your forehead and give you a gold star at the end of the day for your homework. Wake up sweetheart.”
Andie walks away from the conversation inspired to really try harder and becomes very successful in her job.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A few months ago I received a news letter from an orphan school in Uganda that we pray for. In this particular letter they share how some of the children finished a sentence starting with “If I tried harder…” I was amazed at the answers some of the children gave. They talked about sharing Christ more and doing better in other areas of their lives. I was curious to see what my kids would say so I wrote those words on a piece of paper and asked them to write down their answers. Their answers were good, too, and included things like “…get better grades and earn a scholarship”; “…win a soccer trofey (trophy)”; and from my ADD child, “…focus better.”
It made me think about areas in my life that are “slacking” so I made a list of my own.
If I tried harder…
I would keep the dining room table clear of clutter.
I would always remain calm when dealing with my kids.
I would loose the extra twenty pounds that I have gradually gained over the years.
These are the things that come readily to mind, but I am sure that with greater thought, I would think of many more areas of my life in which I could do better. On one hand, doing our best is a good thing and we should endeavor to do our best in everything that we do.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all you heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24
When my husband was a Minister of Music, he was always telling the musicians and choir members that “If it is worth doing for God, it is worth doing with excellence.” He wanted them to practice, to be on time, to do well – or not even bother at all, because God is worth more than a half-hearted effort.
If you think of it that way, your effort shows how much of your heart He really has.
Yet, on the other hand, if your effort is mis-placed, it is wasted effort.
In the past six years John and I have been saddened to watch some friends join a religion based on works and gradually give up every comfort and conform their lives to a set of rules in pursuit of pleasing God.
Our concern is legitimate. When they started heading down this path, I did some research into that type of religion and learned that the goal is to make oneself humble, and in so doing, become more pleasing to God.
This is one of Satan’s most effective tools. It is a deception that is widely accepted - I can make myself more pleasing to God if I Try Harder.
But scripture is clear:
But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
This story that I am living is not one of an oppressive Lord whose favor I must earn. It is not one in which I can live in a slovenly manner, thinking that whatever sin I commit, he must forgive me – I can just go about my life and ignore Him, doing as I please.
It is a love story. It is the story of a Wonderful Person who understands and knows me, wants me. He sought me out, took me as His bride, and lavishes me with love and kindness.
He loves me!
And because He loves me, I love him back. I want to please Him, I want Him to be proud of me, I want to do my best for him – because He is worth it. This is where trying comes in. I don’t have to earn His favor – I already have it! Because I already have His favor I want to glorify Him with my life and this is done by mirroring Him.
I hope that you are living the same love story, but if you are not, you can. Stop Trying to make Him want you – He already does! He is waiting for you, arms open, calling your name. Run to Him, allow Him to lavish you with His love, and you will find out that you want to please him.“But just as He who has called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” (1 Peter 1:15)
Then you can go all out doing your best for Him.
movie photo credit
Einstein photo credit Matters of the Heart My Journey