Since we just finished college, I've had a lot of "life realizations" if you will. One of them being about why we go to college. I think a lot of people have the misguided idea that you attend college to get a degree so that you can get a good paying job. I've realized that isn't the case. We do not attend college so that we can get a piece of paper after 4 years, and magically that paper means someone is going to give you $100k a year - just because you have a piece of paper. No, the real reason we should be going to college is so that we can gain skills and knowledge that will help us become a good employee. Being a good, hard-working, reliable employee with practiced skills who cares about doing a good job is the reason someone will pay you $100k year. It is silly to imagine that someone will give you a certain amount of money every year for the rest of your life, just because you have a paper that said you went to school for 4 or 6 or even 12 years. No matter how many years of school you attended, if you aren't a good employee who does his best and cares about doing his (or her) job right, you just aren't going to have the reward. You have to become a good employee through all of that schooling and experience.
This seems simple enough to understand given the education/work context, and yet many don't seem to be able to grasp the same concept when it comes to God and our purpose here on earth. You see, God didn't just send us here to earth so that we could do a bunch of good deeds and then show up at the pearly gates and get admitted to a paradise resort for the rest of eternity. He sent us here to become. We are supposed to become as Christlike as we can in this life so that when we pass to the next life we can assist Christ in His work. We are like His employees (I hope that doesn't sound too sacrilegious), and this life is like going to college to get the skills and know how in order to do the job. Do we have to be perfect at it? Of course not. But He does expect us to try our very best. When we show Him through our actions that we care about doing His work, that we put His work as our first priority, and that we will sacrifice what we want now in order to do His work and become like Him, that's when He can look at us and say "I know I can trust THAT person to be my employee".
I have seen so often that we as people will start out really strong and committed to the gospel, but as life throws us challenges, we tend to stop doing the things that matter because it's hard. We rationalize that we will be just fine if we don't live the gospel now, because 2 years ago we served a mission, or 5 months ago we helped a friend in need, or just last year we donated a bunch of money to help orphans in another country. Often we think that since we did all those good deeds, God isn't going to deny us when we show up in the afterlife - look at all the good we've done! Of course He'll welcome us with open arms, even if we have been skipping church to watch sports games, or fudging the numbers a little on our reports at work, or gossiping about the neighbors dirty laundry (it is true, after all).
That kind of thinking is like saying that since we got really good grades as a freshman in college, than we don't have to work really hard to get good grades as a junior or senior. The company who hires you will see you got awesome grades as a freshman, AND you graduated, so you're set, right?
We cannot let ourselves be complacent just because we've done good things before. God doesn't care so much about who you used to be as He does about who you are becoming right now. This applies to both good and bad choices in the past. Is He sad that you sinned in the past? Yes, but if you've repented and become better, that's what He cares about. Is He happy that you have made righteous decisions, or even sacrificed something important in order to serve Him in the past? Of course He is, but if you've become stagnate now, that's what He cares about.
And don't be fooled into thinking that after this life we go to a paradise resort that is all frolicking in sunshine and flowers forever. After this life, we will be doing God's work (if that is what we have desired to do in this life)! And only in doing God's work will we be able to be with our families forever. God want's us to have the same happiness that He has, and it takes a lot of work to get there. He loves us and will help us in every way that He can. In truth, we can do nothing without Him. But He can also do nothing for us without action on our part. We cannot be lazy and still expect to receive a full portion of His blessings.