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‘Nothing will work unless you do’

The headline above is a quote from the late hall of fame college basketball coach, John Wooden.

He believed, and held strongly to, a faith in Jesus Christ, but as a coach also believe that investing sweat equity into whatever you pursue was essential to success in the endeavor.

And not just on the basketball court. Wooden believed growth as a person of faith and character was a daily investment, and was more important than anything accomplished on the court.

Wooden believed strongly in daily growth through Scripture, prayer, service and personal sacrifice. If you want to read more of what Wooden had to say, there’s a link at the end of this column.

Jesus taught his earliest followers the same way. True faith properly lived out takes work.

Yes, the grace of Jesus Christ through His sacrifice on the cross is certainly a gift, and on our own, we could never do enough to earn it. But if we truly believe Jesus’ words about who we are, born again as new creations in Him, then it takes daily nurturing our relationship with him, and investing deeply in the gifts and talents he gave each of us to share that message with the world.

When Jesus told the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, he was clear. Apathy and inaction are not an option when it comes to following him. As followers of Christ, we either grow, or we whither on the vine.

We cannot just rest on our laurels. An athlete is never going to be a champion by binge-watching Netflix on the couch with a pint of ice cream and a bag of potato chips.

And our relationship with Christ is never going to grow if we are not in His word, spending time in prayer, and then out walking the walk serving others in the example Jesus set.

True, there is a lot in this world that we cannot control, and can paralyze us if we let it. But we do have control over how we grow within it.

Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples during his earthly ministry, put it this way: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7, ESV)

In other words, when we grasp the magnitude of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, it ought to motivate us to grow in our love for Him and for others on a daily basis. 

If we love Him as we say, it will show by the effort we put into it. And what we put into our faith will show in the fruit that is borne out of our investment in it.

What does your fruit say about your faith?

Daniel Kiewel is a reporter with the Great Bend Tribune. He can be reached at More from John Wooden can be found here.