by Bart Campbell
Sentry Magazine, June 2000
Thomas Edison has been considered by some to be the "King of Inventors." He once made this statement. "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Edison was responsible for the inventions of the incandescent lightbulb, the gramophone, and moving pictures. But Thomas Edison claimed that his achievements were not the result of genius so much as the product of perspiration -- in other words, through persistent effort. It was characteristic of Edison, that once he started an experiment, he would become so absorbed in this project that he would literally forget to cat or sleep. He became oblivious to the passage of time, which was one reason why he never wore a watch. Someone once asked him what he considered was the secret to his success. He replied, "Don't look at your watch!" Some have even speculated that he invented the electric lamp because it annoyed him when it turned dark outside which would interfere with the completion of the experiment or project that he was currently working on.
I use this characteristic from the life of Thomas Edison to emphasize a spiritual principle. Jesus was once asked if only a few would be saved? He answered: "make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because man, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to" (Luke 13:23-24).
Jesus says that many will not make it to heaven because they did not make the effort to enter the narrow door. As a disciple of Christ, I should have the trait of character to make the effort and work. James told us that faith without works is dead -- James 2:26. Our true character, development, and growth as a Christian, will be evident by the persistent effort that we put forth. Thomas Edison recognized his productivity as an inventor was more due to the effort that he put forth than it was to his genius. The same is true with us as Christians. Our success at making it to heaven will be more because of our desire and will to get to heaven than it will because of our intelligence or status in life. If we really desire to spend an eternity in heaven, then let us put forth the effort ("make the effort" as Jesus said).
Consider, are we putting forth the effort to enter the narrow door to heaven, when we are consistently late to a Bible class as many congregations of the Lord's people have on a Sunday morning? Maybe we do not motivate ourselves to be in class at all. "Oh, I have studied that book before and I don't need to learn any more about it." "The teacher is such a bore, I am not edified by his presentation of the material." Even if such excuses are true, does this attitude show that we are really making an effort to be present and learn more from the Word of God?
Would you have the same attitude if you were in a foot race and were tied for the lead? As hard and as fast as you could run, the other runner is working just as hard and running just as fast as you. Then you sec the finish line. How bad do you want to win? You may know more than the opposing runner and maybe even are more qualified as a runner, but you know that at this point of the race, the winner will be the one who first crosses the line. If you want to win the race, you very well might put forth the effort, even to the point of stretching your chest as far out as you can so that you are the first to break the tape (or cross the beam of light). That will be the way that you will win, so you put forth the effort! Why then do we not put forth the effort, make the effort, to study the source that we will be judged by on the Judgement Day (John 12:48)? Why do we not put forth the effort to arrive at Bible class in time, prepared to participate in the discussion, having studied the material so as to be prepared for the topic?
Remember what Paul told Timothy: "...give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine ... give yourself entirely to them that your progress may be evident to all!"(I Timothy 4:12-15) Is the effort that we put forth, worth going to heaven? Is the effort we make, worth the recognition by God our Father?