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.

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