It’s fascinating to watch people who are really, really good at something, especially if it’s something you’ve dabbled in a little yourself.

Ever played golf?

If you’ve only watched the pros on television do it, you’re probably not sufficiently impressed with how incredibly difficult it is to make that little white ball go where you want it to. How do they make it look effortless?

They certainly weren’t born with the innate ability to swing a golf club. There’s not a golf gene that predetermines success on the links. The key to their success isn’t quite that simple . . . or easy. They became good through practice. Lots of it. Thousands and thousands of hours of it.

What we see on television on Sunday was honed on the practice range on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. They hit the same shot over and over again until they can do it instinctively. At some point they decided they cared enough about the sport to give their lives to becoming as good as they possibly could.

And I think there’s a lesson there for an area of our lives that’s infinitely more important. Read this verse:

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil (Hebrews 5:14).

“. . . trained by constant practice,” he says. How do you become good at Christianity? How do you get better at resisting temptation?

Sometimes we don’t like talking about Christian effort because we’re afraid it’ll turn into legalism. We worry that we’ll emphasize our own efforts and not what Jesus did at the cross. The truth is, though, the Bible emphasizes human effort.

It doesn’t save us or earn God’s favor, of course, and we should never put our trust in what we do. But we should be careful not to run so far from legalism that we overlook everything God told us about obedience.

If we want to grow in Christ, it’ll take practice.

It’ll take learning Scripture and submitting to the Spirit as he uses his word to shape and mold us.

It’ll take stumbling and falling and getting up and trying again.

Like many things, it’ll take time.

God will work on us day after day, month after month, year after year, but over time he’ll accomplish his will in our lives. He’ll bring us where he wants us.

And that’s certainly worth whatever we put into it. —Chuck