No Pain, No Gain
There is an expression among those who exercise regularly, “No Pain, No Gain.” The expression basically means that if you are not willing to work hard and suffer a little for your efforts, then you are not going to accomplish very much. Just doing the easy and simple exercises that don’t challenge one’s body won’t lead to lasting results. The same principle is true in life as well. In order for one to be productive in business, for example, one must be willing to make sacrifices of time and money; one must make an effort in order to do well. In our personal relationships also, we understand this to be true. The more we put into a relationship the better it is going to be. The parent who makes an effort to spend time with his children is going to have a better relationship with his child than the parent that doesn’t. The husband who spends more time with his wife will have a better relationship than one that is always gone.
Should it cause us to wonder, when we come to the spiritual world, that if we don’t make an effort at serving the Lord that we’re not going to get anything out of our relationship with God? The same principle is true here as well. “No pain, no gain.” Sometimes I think that people expect church to be some kind of spiritual playground where we can just relax and have fun in the glow of God’s goodness. While I certainly believe that coming to church can be rewarding, it doesn’t quite work like a playground. Our worship and service requires of us some effort, both mentally and physically. The more effort we put into our worship and service, the greater our relationship with God will become.
Our efforts must start with our attendance. If we don’t attend services or if our attendance is sporadic, then we’re not going to get very much out of it. Attendance to the worship services is where we get our encouragement to continue to live godly lives and be faithful to the Lord (Hebrews 10:25). It is absolutely critical to our relationship with God. It is as important as families having dinner together on a regular basis. To miss such an appointment is to undermine one’s relationships.
We continue our efforts with how we worship. We must engage our minds to worship God (John 4:24, Matthew 22:37). That means we need to listen attentively to the prayers and the sermon (1 Corinthians 14:15). We need to sing with all of our heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16). We need to give with purpose and thanksgiving in our hearts (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). And we need to remember the death of Jesus as we partake of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19). How many times do we catch ourselves thinking about what is for lunch or what we’re going to do later in the day instead of focusing on the worship. We cheat ourselves out of a relationship with God when we don’t engage our minds in worship.
When we leave the church building our efforts must continue. If we simply leave what we’ve done at the building behind, then we are going to limit our relationship with God. However, if we take what we’ve learned and tell others about it, we will not only help others but ourselves as well. This may mean doing good to those who are in need (Galatians 6:10); it may means being a good example to our children (Ephesians 6:4); it may mean teaching someone about the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20); it may mean setting an example of model behavior for our coworkers (Ephesians 6:6). Regardless who we influence, there must be the effort of influence.
What will happen if we engage ourselves in the work of God? We will grow as individuals. The church will also grow also; others will see the wonderful things working in our lives and they will want to be part of it. Our efforts will not go unnoticed, and we, as individuals Christians, will not be the only ones to benefit from our work. “No pain, no gain” means that if we want more out of our relationship with God we need to work harder at it. Let us all resolve to renew our efforts to serve God in all things.