Striving to please God
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[29:69] As for those who strive in our cause, we will surely guide them in our paths. Most assuredly, GOD is with the pious.
Striving leads to success. You can watch cartoons or you can do your homework. But if you want to succeed in this world, you'll do your homework. So also, if we want to succeed in the Hereafter, God says to strive.
[5:35] O you who believe, you shall reverence GOD and seek the ways and means to Him, and strive in His cause, that you may succeed.
[9:88] As for the messenger and those who believed with him, they eagerly strive with their money and their lives. These have deserved all the good things; they are the winners.
Striving helps with the testing process. We will be tested through this life to see where we come out; whether we're striving to be an "A" student or a "C" student. And striving and steadfastness seem linked in the testing process. It's a quality of the true believers or better believers (3:142, 9:16, 16:110).
[47:31] We will certainly put you to the test, in order to distinguish those among you who strive, and steadfastly persevere. We must expose your true qualities.
Better Believers Strive in the Cause of God
[9:41-42] You shall readily mobilize, light or heavy, and strive with your money and your lives in the cause of GOD. This is better for you, if you only knew. If there were a quick material gain, and a short journey, they would have followed you. But the striving is just too much for them. They will swear by GOD: "If we could, we would have mobilized with you." They thus hurt themselves, and GOD knows that they are liars. … [9:44] Those who truly believe in GOD and the Last Day do not ask your permission to evade the opportunity to strive with their money and their lives. GOD is fully aware of the righteous.
To improve ourselves. We each sin daily. Even the messengers of God committed sins (48:1-2). We have to repent, seek God's forgiveness and keep trying to do better. Every day, we try to be better than the day before with God’s help. And if we slip up today, we try again tomorrow. Since the prophets and messengers are worried about their necks (21:28), we certainly don't want to take anything for granted. God willing, we work hard (90:4) and take all the striving opportunities we can.
[21:28] He knows their future and their past. They do not intercede, except for those already accepted by Him, and they are worried about their own necks.
[17:21] Note how we preferred some people above others (in this life). The differences in the Hereafter are far greater and far more significant.
We don't want to delay or put off striving either (3:114, 57:10, 57:21-22). We don’t know how much time we have left. Satan will whisper to us to make the wrong choice, “There's a game on Friday night, why not skip the Quran study?” Or, “There’s a feeding the poor activity, but wouldn’t you rather be surfing the Internet?” God says to race towards righteousness and forgiveness. If it were a billion dollars in this world, would we be eager to get it or would we procrastinate or avoid it all together?
[57:10] Why do you not spend in the cause of GOD, when GOD possesses all wealth in the heavens and the earth?
Distinguished from the rest are those among you who spend before the victory and strive. They attain a greater rank than those who spend after the victory and strive. For each, GOD promises salvation. GOD is Cognizant of everything you do.
Preoccupation With This Life Condemned
[57:20] Know that this worldly life is no more than play and games, and boasting among you, and hoarding of money and children. It is like abundant rain that produces plants and pleases the disbelievers. But then the plants turn into useless hay, and are blown away by the wind.
In the Hereafter there is either severe retribution, or forgiveness from GOD and approval. This worldly life is no more than a temporary illusion.
The Intelligent Alternative
[57:21] Therefore, you shall race towards forgiveness from your Lord, and a Paradise whose width encompasses the heaven and the earth. It awaits those who believed in GOD and His messengers. Such is GOD's grace that He bestows upon whomever He wills. GOD is Possessor of Infinite Grace.
[3:114] They believe in GOD and the Last Day, they advocate righteousness and forbid evil, and they hasten to do righteous works. These are the righteous.
Striving doesn’t mean we have to give up this world. But it does mean we make God the #1 priority. If we make a choice—we choose God. And we bring God into whatever we enjoy in this world. We invest our money and time in striving (49:15, 61:11) including spreading the message in little or big ways or doing charitable acts. We do this for God, not because people will be pleased.
[22:78] You shall strive for the cause of GOD as you should strive for His cause. He has chosen you and has placed no hardship on you in practicing your religion―the religion of your father Abraham. He is the one who named you "Submitters" originally. Thus, the messenger shall serve as a witness among you, and you shall serve as witnesses among the people. Therefore, you shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and hold fast to GOD; He is your Lord, the best Lord and the best Supporter.
The Most Profitable Investment
[9:111-112] GOD has bought from the believers their lives and their money in exchange for Paradise. Thus, they fight in the cause of GOD, willing to kill and get killed. Such is His truthful pledge in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Quran―and who fulfills His pledge better than GOD?
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