I was raised in the city of New Orleans and then after living in a couple of small but fairly urbanized towns in Louisiana we moved to Houston, TX. We’ve lived in the largest city in a fairly sparsely populated North Texas county for many years now.
I shared all that because I wanted to make the point that I wasn’t familiar with the lingo that goes with a life of raising cows and riding horses.
I recently heard a term that has captured my attention: “He has a lot
It is used to describe a person who, although perhaps is not excellent in roping or riding, has a lot of heart and gives it everything he has.
That person is described as having “a lot of try.”
I like that term.
It is used to praise a person for not letting their imperfections get in the way of their desire to do the best they can.
As an imperfect human, I hope that in the things that matter to God, I have “a lot of try.”
My thoughts on this term has caused me to pray about it. I knew there was something in this for me and for others. So, after much prayer, I was led to study something in the Bible. I found that there is a term that shows up four times in the New Testament. The concept is also found in many other places in the Bible.
That term is “be diligent.”
The word “diligent” comes from the Greek word “spoudazō” which means to “speedily make effort.”
It means to try.
That term shows up twice in Paul’s second letter to Timothy and in Peter’s second letter which was written to Christians just like you and me or, in his words in 1 Peter 1:1:
“those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”.
Paul urges Timothy to “have a lot of try” to do two things:
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Even though the King James Version of this verse (so often used to try to encourage Christians to study their Bibles) translates this to read “Study to shew thyself approved unto God…” the first time Paul uses it really has to do with practicing a lifestyle.
Of course, studying God’s Word is essential, however this verse has to do with EVERY aspect of a person’s Christian life. It has to do with practicing a lifestyle across the board that results in being able to present ourselves to God with no shame.
Paul wanted Timothy…and he wanted us….to “have a lot of try” in this discipline.
The second time he told Timothy to “be diligent” it was for him to stop what he was doing and try his best to get to Paul as fast as possible.
“Be diligent to come to me quickly…” (2 Timothy 4:9)
So, then, sometimes God will urge us to “have a lot of try” in our Christian lifestyle and sometimes He wants us to “have a lot of try” in doing things He wishes for us to accomplish RIGHT NOW.
It bothers me to have to say that over the years I’ve noticed that there are many among us who want to be recognized for their spiritual excellence a whole lot more than they wish to exercise the discipline it takes to actually try to live a spiritually excellent life consistently.
Why is that?
It is because in order to “have a lot of try” we must first WANT “to have a lot of try.”
Many, frankly, lack the desire to be diligent in Christ. Too many Christians are content to practice a consumer-style quasi-Christian life.
They just want for God to bless them but never seem to exert any personal effort of their own. These cannot, by definition, grow in Christ and are easy prey for the enemy of our souls.
They stumble easily and wonder why.
The beginning of the acquisition of having “a lot of try”, it seems to me, is to want that. It would be easy for us to fall into the trap of trying to somehow, in the strength of our own souls, generate that desire for ourselves.
This would be us doing it in the power of our own flesh and that would bring death into our lives. (Romans 8:6)
I encourage us, instead, to cry out to God to put into our hearts the desire to have “a lot of try” (or a diligent approach to the Father.)
Why would I suggest we do this?
“…it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
It is GOD’S job to put HIS desires into OUR hearts.
“Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
This verse is often misconstrued by teachers who want to appeal to our selfishness. I do not believe that it means that if we have delight in the Lord He will give us whatever we want. Rather, I believe that if we “delight ourselves in the Lord (literally, make ourselves pliable to Him)” He will literally put HIS desires for our lives into our hearts.
It’s very different, isn’t it?
Instead of being babies that do things to try to get God’s approval in hopes that He will give us whatever we want, God desires that we grow up and seek HIS will for us.
His desires become our desires.
So, as we approach the Lord asking Him to give us a will to be diligent let’s know that He IS already motivated to do this since He has commanded us (2 Timothy 2:15) to “have a lot of try”. In other words, by asking Him to do this we are really announcing our readiness to receive His desire for us to be diligent toward Him.
This is a VERY valuable thing to possess and practice. It is the stuff of building God’s Kingdom in us….and, subsequently, through us and, when the going gets tough, we will not bail out nor will we stumble.
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10-11)
Isn’t that wonderful to hear? God wants to place into our hearts a desire to be diligent and it will keep us from stumbling!
“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:14-16)
It is possible for us, surrounded by people who divide God’s Church into a million pieces parts, to live in peace – in other words, for us to live as ONE Church no matter how others practice their Christianity. That is literally what “being found by Jesus in peace” means.
Peter was clear that the simplicity of the Scriptures was and would continue to be under attack by two sorts of people: the untaught (this is why we NEED strong, faithful teachers in the Body of Christ) and the unstable people who will wrench the Scriptures so out of shape that they ruin themselves.
“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)
My encouragement, therefore, in the words of the ranchers and riders in North Texas is to “have a lot of try” spiritually.
You might want to join me in this prayer for God to give us that sort of diligence and that He will guide us in how to live that out day by day:
“Father God, I believe You want me to ‘have a lot of try’ in how I live for You. I pray now for You to place in my heart Your desires for me to be diligent in everything I do as a Christian. I commit to You to listen for Your promptings, to read Your Word so I can better know how Jesus thinks and does things and to obey You as soon as I realize You are guiding me to do something. I promise to do this even if it is something I would rather not do. I belong to You and I want to live that way more and more consistently for the rest of my days. Thank You, Father, for giving me Your desires for me. I receive these in the capable name of Jesus. Amen.”
May the words written here strengthen and encourage you to be everything God intends for your life.