Human beings are ambitious creatures. We plan, we envision, we aspire, we strategize and we work to better ourselves. These are good things. But in the life of the Christian, becoming "better" or more like Jesus takes more than our effort. In fact, our effort can do very little to make us "Christ-like." In order to become like Christ, we don't need more human effort. Instead, we need God to transform us through divine power.
Sure, we can study our Bibles (and we should), we can serve as Christ serves (and we should), and we can pray "religiously" and faithfully (and we should). We can even give ourselves over to God in faith with blind trust. But unless God transforms us in response to faith and service (and God will), we are still only human beings working hard.
The Scriptures bear this out for us:
"Now it is GOD who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. GOD anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." - 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." - 2 Corinthians 3:18
"Being confident of this, that GOD who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6
"For it is GOD who works in you to will and to act according to GOD's good purpose." - Philippians 2:13
"If we are faithless, GOD will remain faithful, for He cannot disown himself." - 2 Timothy 2:13
Notice in these Scriptures who is the active "agent" in the Christian life. It isn't the Christian but God.
There are times in our journey with Christ when we can't clearly see that we are progressing in our faith. We wonder what we are doing wrong or wonder how we can work harder to be a "better Christian." During those times, let me urge you to push the "pause" button in your life instead of the "fast forward." Remember that it isn't you who will make you more Christ-like. Only God can do that type of work inside of you. Instead of working harder, slow down and draw near to God. Through God's mysterious grace and love, God will transform you in timing that is God's own.