There Is No Try

In the movie, “The Empire Strikes Back,” young Luke Skywalker learned the ways of the force from a wise, old Jedi Master named Yoda.

When Yoda gave him the task of raising his spaceship from its swampy grave, Luke whined that it was impossible. Yoda insisted. “I guess I’ll give it a try,” Luke said with a shrug.

“No,” Yoda snapped. “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”

To try meant he would accept defeat. To try meant not being fully committed. To try meant failure.

If you search the Bible from cover to cover, never once will you hear God encourage us to simply try to obey his Commandments. He says, “Do and do not.” The Ten Commandments aren’t ten encouragements. They aren’t ten suggestions. God says, “Do and do not. There is no try.”

Yet, as Christians we often lower our expectations of ourselves. We give ourselves a way out when we say, “God wants us to try to be good people, to try to control our anger, or to try to not drink too much.” We make it sound like it doesn’t matter to God whether we succeed or fail, as long as we give it the old, college try.

God doesn’t speak that way in his Word. His law is clear. Honor your father and mother. Do not steal. Do not covet. Do not murder. Do not lust. Do not hate. Love your enemies.

If you fail to obey any one of God’s commands, you deserve his anger and eternal punishment in the horrors of hell. It doesn’t matter how hard you try. God doesn’t give an “A” for effort.

His Law simply says do or do not. There is no try.

Thankfully, God didn’t simply try to save us. His love led him to do. Jesus obeyed every one of God’s commands perfectly in our place. He paid the price. He died our death. He did it all.

Therefore God forgives our failures. He forgives us for all the times we’ve lowered our expectations and were satisfied to just try instead of doing his will. You are forever forgiven because Jesus did it all in your place.

But forgiveness doesn’t mean God somehow lowers his standards. Forgiveness doesn’t mean trying is good enough. God stills says, “Do and do not. There is no try.”

God’s love does not negate his law. God still demands perfection. To water down his law is to cheapen his grace. Where we have failed, Jesus succeeded.

And because he did, you are forgiven. You are going to heaven through faith in him.

But now, out of love and thanks for what he has done for you, don’t just try. Do. Live for him who lived and died for you.

Love your enemies. Control your anger. Stop gossiping. Stop lying. Stop cursing. Pray. Worship. Give.

Do and do not. There is no try.

  9 comments for “There Is No Try

  1. Kenneth
    April 18, 2018 at 10:12 am

    So Right, no water down, just water from above in Baptism

  2. Paul Reede
    April 20, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    I understand what you are trying to say but when God’s Word says 1 Thessalonians: 5. 15. but always strive to do what is good” it can mean try. Maybe I am wrong but when I say try, I am acknowledging that I am a sinner and I know I will often fail but I will strive out of thankfulness to give glory to God with my life.

    • schroera
      April 20, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      Paul, I knew somebody would call me on this. The Bible does use the English word “try,” but “try” can mean different things (and is actually different words in Greek). The “try” I refer to in the article is synonymous with “attempt” (in Greek, πειράζω). God does want us to “strive” and “pursue” godliness, but he does not lower his standards or expectations. He doesn’t want us to simply attempt to obey him. He wants us to obey him. Thanks for your comments.

      • Paul Reede
        April 20, 2018 at 10:04 pm

        I have some other verses but it’s not that big of a deal. In studying 3 Greek words I still believe they can be translated as try. But I don’t feel like getting into a long discussion and I understand your point but let’s TRY ☺to not be too judgmental. 2 Timothy 2:15 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,1 Timothy 4:10 ESV For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God. (yes I did a word study) Thanks for the article. Your main message was excellent.

  3. Paul Reede
    April 20, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    The more I think about it, the law of course does not say just try however the verses I’ve quoted are directed to the justified Christian. The good news is that now as Christians the law is no longer the way to righteousness. However we still strive and try to keep the law not as a way to gain righteousness but as a way of thanking God. For those trying to gain righteousness through the law trying will not work. But Christians are not trying to gain righteousness but we still strive and try to give God the glory because we are already forgiven.

  4. Paul Reede
    April 21, 2018 at 8:29 am

    Do a word study of Spoudazo. (Do your best) this word is always used in the NT directed at the Christian. Of course trying to do your best will not work for gaining righteousness. However again as I said before the Christian is not trying to gain righteousness through the law. That doesn’t work but we try to do our best to give glory to God with our lives.

    • schroera
      April 21, 2018 at 9:38 am

      Paul, I really do get what you are saying. You can’t “do” if you don’t “try.” God does encourage us to seek, to pursue, to make every effort to be godly, but he isn’t saying that in the sense that we often use “try” in English. God’s law does not leave us room for lowering our standard by claiming we try. That is my whole point. Covered in the gospel of forgiveness, our best efforts (our filthy rags) are washed clean in Jesus’ blood, but God never lowers his standards. The law demands perfect obedience. Thankfully we live in the grace of the gospel.

      • Paul Reede
        April 21, 2018 at 8:14 pm

        Maybe you missed my point. I agree when trying to gain righteousness trying is not enough we must keep them perfectly. However as Christians we aren’t trying to gain righteousness. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. However as Christians again we do try to do our best “Spoudazo” to serve God. That’s why the Bible says to the Christian “Do your best” and make every effort. I agree trying will not do to become righteous. Maybe we will just have to agree disagree.

  5. Paul Reede
    April 21, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    One more thought. Maybe we are talking past each other. As I said, I totally agree with the article if are talking to the unbeliever. Trying won’t work. However if a member of my church would say they always try to serve God in every part of their lives, I would never say “you can’t try you have to do it”,then I am only teaching the law. The Gospel is done not do. We as Christians” do our best”, strive and make every effort. We try. I try every day to keep his commands.Praise God the doing was done by Christ! Do you agree with this? As I said, maybe we are talking past each other.

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