My goal in the seventh grade was to become the next Johnny Unitas. So, when the school announced football tryouts, I was early. The coach told us to pick a partner and to start running around the track. The guy I selected was wearing a cast on his foot due to a broken ankle. He was so slow that I looked like Jesse Owens.
The coach noticed my deliberate attempt to look good, and paired me with Bo Sturdevant. Bo was an upperclassman who excelled in all sports. He ran like the wind, and made me look like Cecil Turtle. As we were going around the track, the coach started running beside me. He told me to get to moving and to "exert" more energy. How embarrassing. The coach ran faster than I did! That was when I decided to pursue my “Harry James” passion and join the band.
However, I found out that no matter what I decided to do, I would need to “exert” more energy to be successful. The word “exert” means to hasten, make haste, endeavor, or to give diligence. Exertion is needed in every field of labor. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor said, “The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my arguments, not on my gender.”
Albert Einstein said, “Many times a day I realize how much my own life is built upon the labors of my fellowmen, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received.” The amount of influence you exert can determine the value of an outcome.
Which brings us to 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The word “study” means more than just getting a cup of coffee and reading the Word. “Study” springs from the root word “spoudázō,” which is often translated as diligent, hasten, endeavor, or exert. The Holman Christian Standard translation of this verse says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God.”
When Jesus was teaching in Luke 13, He was encouraging his followers to not be sloppy in their Christian faith. Indeed, Jesus demanded full conviction and total commitment. In verse 24 (NET) Jesus said, "Exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” It will take more than general assent to obtain Eternal Life. It will take a passionate pursuit of Godly disciplines to please God.
In 21st Century Christianity, to “exert” means to pick up the pace, stretch yourself, and go beyond the normal to achieve God’s best. Being lazy is not acceptable among Believers. Paul warns Christians about becoming “disorderly” in their manner of living (2 Thessalonians 3:6). “Disorderly” is a military term and refers to a soldier that is out of step or unruly. Don’t be disorderly, instead exert all of your passions into living for Christ to your utmost.
As the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 1:29 (WNT), “To this end, like an earnest wrestler, I exert all my strength in reliance upon the power of Him who is mightily at work within me.” Amen!