But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
Jesus tells a group of religious leaders a short story in Matthew 21. He tells them about two sons both of which were asked to go to work. The first son said no but after thinking about it decided he better get to it, so he ended up going to work. The second son said, “Yes, I will go” but then never actually does. Jesus asked which son was obedient? Of course, it was the son that actually went to work. You see, our words can only get us so far before they require us to take some action.
The grit God has given us (2 Timothy 1:7) is to be used in our every day lives, not just in the toughest moments of life, but all the time. God expects us to live out our faith and not to just talk about it. He expects us to actually do what we say. If we say we believe in Jesus then our life and actions need to reflect that belief. We need to be doers. He expects us to take what He has given us, the Spirit of grit, and actually do something with it. That means we need to live a gritty life.
Another way He explains this is in the story of the talents in Matthew 25. Three servants are given some talents. Two of the servants do something with the talents given and multiply them. The third servant just protects the one given because he is afraid to lose it. He doesn’t want to take the risk. So, he does nothing with it. He is called the lazy and wicked servant and the master takes the talent from him.
The things God has given us are meant to be used. We are supposed to take a risk with them in order to be obedient to God and be a doer of His word. That is what James mean when he says we need to be a doer and not just a listener. He means we have been given a spirit of power, well we better display that power. We have a spirit of love, well we better love. We have a spirit of discipline, well we better show some discipline. In almost every case it will require some grit.
God has not given us a spirit of laziness or called us to a life of ease. He has given us a spirit of grit – a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. God has given us the necessary talent to expand His Kingdom. We are called to use it, to take the risk, and live a gritty life. God is ready to use that gritty life to change lives and make Kingdom impacts. Be gritty. Live gritty.
And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.
I was playing a virtual reality game not that long ago and realized how hard it is to convince your mind of two different things at the same time. I knew I was standing in my living room, but my mind was seeing a miniature golf course with cliffs and water falls. I tried to “walk off” the cliff a couple of times and even though I knew there really was no cliff it still caused a funny feeling and I had to “force” my brain to be ok with it. It was weird!
Gritty faith can be like that at times. Where we have to go off of what we know to be true and not what we feel or the circumstances we are looking at. There are times in life where we will have to have that kind of faith to experience the victory God has for us.
In the story in Matthew 15 there is a Gentile woman who had a daughter that was demon possessed. She, like any mother, wanted her daughter to be healed, to be set free of the torment. So, she came to Jesus for that healing. She knew Jesus was able to heal her, she knew Jesus as Lord, and she believed in who He said He was. It took that solid foundation and some grit for her to see her daughter set free.
Her circumstances were not in her favor – she was a Gentile woman – unclean in the eyes of the Jews and would have been ignored by most Jewish men. Her cries for help were met with demands of silence by those closest to Jesus. Even Jesus didn’t respond in the most favorable way. But, she kept on. She kept asking. She got on her knees and cried out for help. This was one gritty mom!
This gritty faith led to a victory for her and for her daughter. Jesus has guaranteed us a victory, but He never promised it would be an easy one. Don’t let your circumstances dictate your faith or your action. Let God do that. Hold on to who you know Him to be! Never let anyone or anything steer you off track – have some grit and wait for God to work!
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death… Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Hebrews 2:14, 17-18
There is a really interesting story in Matthew 4 of Jesus being tempted. It says God led Him out into the wilderness in-order to be tempted. That sounds very strange to me. I mean, think about it, God led His Son out to be tempted. Would you send your child out into the world to be tempted? It is a questionable decision until you take into account what Jesus was doing. He was becoming like us in every respect to help us live victoriously through this life.
When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness He was showing us that living victoriously is possible and He was showing us how to go about it. Jesus put His grit on full display. According to the writer of Hebrews He did all this so He could helps us in the same way. So, are you facing some temptation – have some Jesus grit!
Jesus grit starts with some steps of obedience. In Matthew 4 the first thing Jesus does is follows the leading of the Spirit. I am sure He didn’t really want to go out into the wilderness but He went anyway. If we are going to have Jesus grit we are going to have to be willing to follow the leadership of God even if that means following Him into the difficult. Grit doesn't come from the easy – it comes from the hard. So be obedient to God so He can cultivate the grit you need.
Jesus also took time to surrender Himself to God. We can see that in His baptism as well as in the 40 days of fasting in the wilderness. Jesus grit requires surrender. To make it through you have to be all in for God. Are you? Jesus was.
After those 40 days and that temptation Jesus came out victorious. According to Hebrews, that means we can go through the same thing and come out the same way. Now that Jesus has gone through it, He is ready to lead you through it too. Jesus grit trusts in the help of Christ.
Pastor Matt Huff leads Portland Central Nazarene Church. He loves being in ministry and seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ.