The only striving the Bible encourages us to do is to strive to enter God's rest (Hebrews 4:10-11). We do not use self-effort to arrive at any other phase of our Christian walk.
The reason we have to strive to enter into God's rest is that it goes against our natural human tendency. Our pride and rebellion spur us on to do things our way, and submitting to God chafes our soul - our mind, will and emotions.
We want to feel accomplished and to believe that we earned the degree or trophy or crown of glory by our hard work and effort. The truth is that we will throw our crowns at Jesus' feet, because we will finally realize that He, not us, earned and deserves them (Revelation 4:10-11).
In our free will, we can choose to disobey God's Spirit at any time; but then we reap the consequences of sin, as well as discipline for our disobedience from our Father who loves us a His children (Hebrews 12:4-12).
On the other hand, attempting to discipline our self to walk in good works and obedience to God's Word is often fruitless and counterproductive. The more we strive toward perfection the more our flesh draws us back into sin and rebellion.
We can only walk in perfection as we rely on the promises and Spirit of God (2 Corinthians 7:1; 2 Peter 1:4). Our obedience to God is both inspired and empowered by His Spirit within us (Philippians 2:12-13).
"Let patience have her perfect work" (James 1:4-8) is not telling us to be patient or to get patience. It is simply telling us to submit to God and to allow patience, which is a fruit from the Holy Spirit, to do its perfecting work in us (Galatians 5:22-23).
This takes all the stress out of life for us. We walk in freedom and joy, with God's peace in our heart regardless of circumstances; knowing without a doubt that God has a seed for a miracle in the midst of every trial.
Father God, remind us that our part in our spiritual walk is simply to surrender to the work of Your Holy Spirit in our life. We are but a lump of clay, and You are the Master Potter (Jeremiah 18:1-6; Isaiah 64:8). You are our Alpha and Omega and You give us Your living water as we thirst for You alone (Revelation 21:6).
Teach us that the Christian walk is not about self-effort, but about submission to You first and foremost in all areas of our life. We concede to You in everything we think, say and do; and You direct our path (Proverbs 3:5-6). We walk in Your ways now and serve You for eternity in Your new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1).
Thought for the Day:
By trusting in God to save and to perfect us in every way, regardless of the circumstances of our life, we enter His rest and remove all stress from our life.