I was not an especially dedicated student. Throughout my 4 years in college, I could pretty easily swing a "B" in just about any class without putting in very much effort. If I had a paper to write, rarely a word was written until the night before. The same principle applied to most exams and other assignments and projects. I always felt like I could get better grades if I actually put in the effort, but I was content with my "B"s since I felt confident I knew what needed to be done to get an "A" if I really wanted.
My senior year of college I took a class that I absolutely loved more than any class I had ever taken. There were classes before it for which I did not ever once even open the textbook, but this class I read more of the assigned readings than I had for all of my other classes combined. We were assigned a paper at one point, for this class that I so dearly loved, for which I had put more effort than any other class. I was feeling pretty confident.
Would you like to guess what grade I received?
I marched that "B"-graded paper right into my professor's office to lecture him about how much more effort I had put into his class than any class I had ever taken, and how could he give me a "B"?!?
I absolutely deserved a "B", for the record.
That was almost 10 years ago now, and while I no longer fulfill the role of "student", I seem to fall into the same attitude about the many new roles I do play. I am often content with my "B" efforts at parenting, marriage, business, other relationships, housework, just about everything. I often view the things that I could do to improve the quality of these aspects of my life as not worth that extra effort since things are already pretty good (except housework. I'm far from "pretty good" at housework). The amount of effort to bring me to that next level is a lot of work that I just don't want to do sometimes.
I usually try to stop thinking about it before I feel too convicted... especially when it comes to my faith. I mean, I teach Sunday School, I blog here, I go to church, tell my kids about Jesus and pray every day. That's pretty good, right? I know I could work a little harder to improve my personal bible study, to hold myself to a higher standard in keeping Christ as the foundation of my marriage, etc. Sure, I think I know what I could do to get a "better grade", but I too often feel like things are good enough as they are.
Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect".
That extra effort I don't want to put in is commanded by God. It's been pretty convicting to type this out, confessing my weaknesses in black and white. Even when I do catch myself in that attitude and try to put in that extra effort, I still find myself falling short. I always will.
Romans 3:23 "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".
If I needed all A's to graduate from college, I would have put in more effort. I also would have failed. There is no "pretty good" when perfection is called for.
Fortunately, my salvation is not dependent on my effort the way my graduation was.
Romans 3:24 "And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ"
When it comes to salvation, I did not pay my own way, my errors are not counted against me, and yet my "graduation" is secure. I shouldn't be putting in a "B" effort because it will be good enough. I should put in an "A" effort out of gratitude in my heart to a Savior who knew I would fall short, and made the ultimate sacrifice on my behalf.
Romans 6:18-23 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.