Making It Look Easy
by Jacob Hudgins
“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ”(1 Cor 11:1)
Some people make it look easy. They juggle all the pressures of life with ease, meet their commitments, and say the right things to the right people at the right times. We look at such people with amazement, perhaps a tinge of jealousy, and wonder, “Why am I so different?”.
In spiritual things, such people exist too. The things of Christ seem to come naturally to them. Bible study is a breeze, caring for others is second nature, and it seems as though they were born ready to be Christians. We look at such people with amazement, perhaps a tinge of jealousy, and wonder, “Why am I so different?”.
Paul was one of those—a man who made it look easy. But look closer: it wasn’t easy for Paul! His life of faith began with the ominous pronouncement from Jesus, “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake”(Acts 9:16). His life was full of such sufferings—the travails of his life as an apostle, his continuing status as an outsider among the other apostles, the pain of a thorn in his flesh. Does it look as easy now? Would we trade places with Paul?
Look deeper. Paul seemed to have complete control over himself and to always say the right thing. Yet he tells us, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified”(1 Cor 9:27). Paul’s work of self-control was ongoing—and it was hard work for him like it is for us! What we don’t see on surface examination is the years of training and teaching of his youth in Judaism. What we don’t see are the times young Paul made mistakes and corrected them. Paul makes it look easy because we only see the easy part!
The lesson is twofold. First, when we think others have an easier life—a simpler path to heaven with less suffering and trouble than us—we are very often wrong. Yet no life is free from difficulty, and the fact that their lives look easy from our vantage point means almost nothing. Second, when we think others take to religion more easily, we should remember that life reform is never easy for anyone. It may look easy because we only see the easy part!
Let’s be careful about thinking we know the full weight of others’ commitment to Christ. Instead of judging and comparing, let’s take strength from brethren who walk with Jesus despite the difficulties of that walk. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God”(Acts 14:22).