. . . continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. John 15:16
I think spiritual growth is a lot like water skiing.
In order to ski, two essential elements must work together: the boat and the skier. The boat’s power cuts through the water. The skier’s power keeps him or her standing. Of course, the person is far weaker than the boat, but the boat alone can’t make a person ski. Both must work together, closely coordinated, to make a successful ski run. To grow spiritually, both God and us must work together. This is God’s design. We work out our salvation as God works in us.
Many non-growing Christians fall out of balance in one of two ways: lacking diligence or trying to do it all alone. We cannot sit back, comfortable on the couch with our feet on the coffee table and expect God to grow us while we do nothing. On the other hand, we cannot do it all on our own, rushing ahead of God and wonder why he doesn’t fit into our plans. Being too liberal or too legal will keep us in the rut.
Ultimately, God chose us LONG before we ever chose him. It is his lead we must follow: being diligent without (trying) to do it all on our own.