How many times have we said, “I’ll do my best” , meaning that we would try to achieve whatever it is we wanted to accomplish?
But is that really what we do? I will confess that saying “I will do my best” usually means I will try. I will attempt to accomplish that goal, but I am already prepared to fail and feel alright about it, so long as I feel I have made a real effort.
That is fine with the world- the world says give it a shot, but if you fail you are still an OK person. It’s not your fault if you fail, and as long as you feel, in your heart, you have tried to do your best then no one can say anything about it.
Well, golly gee! That’s all I need to hear. Considering I am a self-centered, self-absorbed and rationalizing (not rational, but rationalizing) human being, you have just given me the “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Just as long as I feel I have tried, I can say I gave it my best shot.
Yoda told the truth when he heard Luke said “I’ll try” to lift his spaceship out of the murky swamp: Yoda said, “Do, or do not- there is no try.”
God wants us to do, or do not. He is patient, compassionate and understanding. He knows how weak we are, how self-absorbed (I like that term because it is just so appropriate to people, isn’t it?) and how sinful, in both acts and nature, we humans are. Yet, in His Torah I do not recall anytime or anyplace where He says there are partial sins; He doesn’t tell us that we can bring to sacrifice what we feel is good enough, or to act as nice to a neighbor as we feel like. God tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves; He tells us to bring the best grain, the finest flour, animals without blemish- not the best we can find, but the best, period. Not try to act the best way we can, but act as He says we should.
God commands us, over and over, to be holy because He is holy. Not to try, or “do our best”- He commands us to BE!
There is a big difference between trying and doing. Trying gets you nothing, doing gets you everything. What God wants is for us to be good; not to try, not to do our best, but to be good.
It is hard. In all fairness, we are weak, we are not able to be good all the time. It is a fact, but not an excuse. It is also a fact that we can be good more then we have been. We can sin less today than we sinned yesterday. We can be better; we can be more obedient; we can stop eating things we aren’t supposed to; we can treat people with more compassion. And we can constantly be better than we have been.
We can never be sinless, but we always can sin less.
We should not say we will try our best, we should say we will do better. That is the goal- to do better. It is attainable, it is possible, and it is what will please the Lord.
God knows we cannot be as holy as He is, and He also knows we can be holier than we are: that is the “do” in our lives.
The Bible is the ultimate Self Help book, and it will teach you how, with God’s help, you can stop trying and start being.