In the third grade I was diagnosed with learning disabilities. I was told I could do the work, I just needed to try harder. Well, sometimes I was not just tired of trying harder, I was just tired of the work, period. For example, in English we had to find the noun, verb and adjective in several sentences. Each assignment had about 20 sentences as I recall. However, I thought 10 sentences was plenty and 20 was just unreasonable. So after actually trying during the first 10 sentences I just hurriedly guessed on the last 10. One time, just to throw my teacher off, after guessing on the last 10, I turned my paper over and started writing over and over, “I did my very best. I did my very best.” For some reason, writing “I did my very best” 20 times seemed easier than actually doing my very best. It worked! The teacher showed the paper to my mother and told her, “I guess we have been too hard on Willie. Look how frustrated he must have been when he wrote over and over I did my very best.” I wasn’t doing my very best. I knew it and God knew it. In the end, I wasn’t cheating my mother or my teacher. I was cheating God.
…or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NKJV
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, Colossians 3:23 NKJV
In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and Sapphira tried to make it look like they were giving 100% but God knew better. Even though I tried to make it look like I was giving 100% in 3rd grade English class God knew better.
Sometimes people think we are trying our best when we are just being lazy. Sometimes though, people think we are not trying our best when we really are. Only God knows.
I have been an avid golfer since 2007. I have practiced, I have watched golf instruction videos. I play regularly. However my golf score has not changed much since I first began. When someone asks me what my handicap is, I tell them, “It’s my swing.” Several times I have gone golfing with a friend who has told me, “I have not played in several years, and you play all the time, so I know you will win.” And then they are surprised when we walk off the 18th green and they have won. My score clearly does not show how much I have practiced and how much I have tried. My scores today are only slightly a little better than my scores 15 years ago. That may not be entirely true because I do not give myself as many mulligans as I did in the past. So my scores 15 years ago were probably even worse had I not given myself so many mulligans. Still, I don’t think my poor scores reflect how hard I really try.
Golf is just a game, but I have to remind myself in life, just as I am trying harder than my golf score reflects, many in the church are trying harder than their actions reflect. Golf is just plain easier for others than it is for me. The score does not really show how hard you have tried. In life it may be easier for me to study my Bible every day than it is for others. After all, liking to read or not liking to read does not make you a better person. And even after all the Bible studying I do, during the day I am amazed at how much more Christlike people can be who don’t even believe in Christ! There are atheists who act more like Jesus in every day life than I do! Then again we meet people who are really struggling. It seems like they are living their whole life in a sand trap. It may be easy to criticize, but God may know their hearts, and know they are actually putting more effort into their Christian walk than some of us who come by certain things more naturally. This is why we should never judge. We simply don’t know what is going on inside their lives and minds. Ellen White puts it this way.
“While some are continually harassed, afflicted, and in trouble because of their unhappy traits of character, having to war with internal foes and the corruption of their nature, others have not half so much to battle against. They pass along almost free from the difficulties which their brethren and sisters who are not so favorably organized are laboring under. In very many cases they do not labor half so hard to overcome and live the life of a Christian as do some of those unfortunate ones I have mentioned.” Ellen White, Testimonies Volume 2 page 74
Let’s remember to be patient with others. We don’t have a clue the crucible they may be enduring. And after all,
Often we regard as hopeless subjects the very ones whom Christ is drawing to Himself. – Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, Page 71.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.