Day 264

Never Give Up

Wisdom Proverbs 23:10-18
New Testament Galatians 6:1-18
Old Testament Isaiah 49:8-51:16

Introduction

Sir Winston Churchill has been described as Britain’s greatest ever leader. He lived a long, heroic life and he rallied a nation with his inspiring rhetoric. One of the most striking parts of his biography is that he had to resign from the Admiralty during WWI over the failed Dardanelles campaign. He had failed spectacularly, yet he was to learn not to give up.

I was told that once, when he returned to his old school, Harrow, to address the boys, the whole school assembled to listen to his words of wisdom. The great man arose to speak: ‘Young men; never give up, never give up, never give up.’ The entire speech lasted only a few seconds. Then he sat down. No one present ever forgot his words.

That is, at least, the popular version of the story. Churchill did indeed say words to that effect, but as part of a longer speech. Towards the end he said, ‘Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.’

In today’s generation, our lives have become so instantaneous that anything requiring patient perseverance can appear unattractive. We require instant returns and instant results. But sometimes the biggest pay-offs are a long time coming.

Wisdom

Proverbs 23:10-18

Saying 11

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
   or encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Defender is strong;
   he will take up their case against you.

Saying 12

12 Apply your heart to instruction
   and your ears to words of knowledge.

Saying 13

13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
   if you punish them with the rod, they will not die.
14 Punish them with the rod
   and save them from death.

Saying 14

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
   then my heart will be glad indeed;
16 my inmost being will rejoice
   when your lips speak what is right.

Saying 15

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
   but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.
18 There is surely a future hope for you,
   and your hope will not be cut off.

Commentary

Never give up being enthusiastic

‘Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off’ (vv.17–18).

St Paul wrote something similar: ‘Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour’ (Romans 12:11). We should be as enthusiastic as the day we first encountered Jesus. As Bear Grylls says, ‘Be the most enthusiastic person you know. Enthusiasm sustains you when times are tough, encourages those around you and is totally infectious.’

Many years ago, I wrote in the margin next to these verses: ‘I am feeling rather envious of the people [my work colleagues at the time] and their work. This is the Lord’s word to me – not to be envious, but instead to be zealous for him – and he promises “a bright future” (Proverbs 23:18, GNB). Praise the Lord for that promise to cling to for my work.’

Prayer

Lord, help me never to be lacking in zeal, but to keep my spiritual fervour. Thank you that you promise ‘a bright future’.

New Testament

Galatians 6:1-18

Doing Good to All

6 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Not Circumcision but the New Creation

11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.

17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Commentary

Never give up doing good

‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’ (v.9).

As Paul reached the end of this letter, he encouraged the Galatians to work together as a team. If someone is going off the path, seek to restore them gently (v.1a). But also watch yourself lest you be tempted (v.1b). You are responsible for your own life: ‘Each one should test his own actions… for each one should carry his own load’ (vv.4–5).

We also have a responsibility for other members of the team: ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ’ (v.2).

Paul assumes we all have burdens. The word used means ‘heavy burdens’. It is a wide-ranging term that includes suffering, illnesses, physical disabilities, sorrows, grief, worries, responsibilities (financial and other), temptations, errors, doubts, weaknesses and failures (moral and other). In other words, it includes any and every load that is hard to bear.

One of the ways in which Jesus bears these burdens of yours is through human friendship. This was the way in which Titus helped to bear Paul’s burdens.

I like to be independent and self-sufficient, not relying on other people, but I am designed to be a burden to you and you are designed to be a burden to me: ‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ’ (v.2).

I can only say that in my own life I am so grateful to those close friends with whom Pippa and I talk and pray regularly, who have helped us at times when the burdens have seemed too heavy for us to carry alone. We have been through many things together, suffered together and rejoiced together. All this has helped to spread the load.

The object of the team is to carry on sowing good seed. ‘People reap what they sow. Those who sow to please their sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; those who sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life’ (vv.7–8).

St Paul wrote to the Galatians, ‘… do not give up’ (v.9). The temptation is to become weary in doing good. But the promise is that you will reap a harvest if you do not give up. Take every opportunity to do good to all people, ‘especially to those who belong to the family of believers’ (v.10).

There are many discouragements around. There are huge temptations to give up. When you sow a seed, you do not see the results immediately; it takes time. Sometimes, it’s only when you look back years later that you can see that the seed you have sown has finally borne a harvest. There are also many seeds sown about which you may know nothing until you see the harvest in heaven. One of the keys to staying positive is to keep an eternal perspective.

Paul never gave up preaching the simple message of the ‘cross of Christ’ (v.12). He kept on going and he kept on sowing. He refused to add or subtract from the message. He also refused to preach a more popular message in order to avoid persecution (v.12). As a result, he was persecuted. He wrote, ‘I bear on my body the marks of Jesus’ (v.17).

Prayer

Lord, help me to keep on sowing, keep on doing good, and hold on to your promise that, at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Old Testament

Isaiah 49:8-51:16

Restoration of Israel

8 This is what the Lord says:

“In the time of my favour I will answer you,
   and in the day of salvation I will help you;
I will keep you and will make you
   to be a covenant for the people,
to restore the land
   and to reassign its desolate inheritances,
9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’
   and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’

“They will feed beside the roads
   and find pasture on every barren hill.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst,
   nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
   and lead them beside springs of water.
11 I will turn all my mountains into roads,
   and my highways will be raised up.
12 See, they will come from afar —
   some from the north, some from the west,
   some from the region of Aswan.”

13 Shout for joy, you heavens;
   rejoice, you earth;
   burst into song, you mountains!
For the Lord comforts his people
   and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me,
   the Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
   and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
   I will not forget you!
16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
   your walls are ever before me.
17 Your children hasten back,
   and those who laid you waste depart from you.
18 Lift up your eyes and look around;
   all your children gather and come to you.
As surely as I live, ” declares the Lord,
   “you will wear them all as ornaments;
   you will put them on, like a bride.

19 “Though you were ruined and made desolate
   and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people,
   and those who devoured you will be far away.
20 The children born during your bereavement
   will yet say in your hearing,
‘This place is too small for us;
   give us more space to live in.’
21 Then you will say in your heart,
   ‘Who bore me these?
I was bereaved and barren;
   I was exiled and rejected.
   Who brought these up?
I was left all alone,
   but these—where have they come from?’”

22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“See, I will beckon to the nations,
   I will lift up my banner to the peoples;
they will bring your sons in their arms
   and carry your daughters on their hips.
23 Kings will be your foster fathers,
   and their queens your nursing mothers.
They will bow down before you with their faces to the ground;
   they will lick the dust at your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
   those who hope in me will not be disappointed. ”

24 Can plunder be taken from warriors,
   or captives be rescued from the fierce?

25 But this is what the Lord says:

“Yes, captives will be taken from warriors,
   and plunder retrieved from the fierce;
I will contend with those who contend with you,
   and your children I will save.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh;
   they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine.
Then all mankind will know
   that I, the Lord, am your Saviour,
   your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. ”

Israel’s Sin and the Servant’s Obedience

50 This is what the Lord says:

“Where is your mother’s certificate of divorce
   with which I sent her away?
Or to which of my creditors
   did I sell you?
Because of your sins you were sold;
   because of your transgressions your mother was sent away.
2 When I came, why was there no one?
   When I called, why was there no one to answer?
Was my arm too short to deliver you?
   Do I lack the strength to rescue you?
By a mere rebuke I dry up the sea,
   I turn rivers into a desert;
their fish rot for lack of water
   and die of thirst.
3 I clothe the heavens with darkness
   and make sackcloth its covering.”

4 The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
   to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
   wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
5 The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
   I have not been rebellious,
   I have not turned away.
6 I offered my back to those who beat me,
   my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
   from mocking and spitting.
7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
   I will not be disgraced.
Therefore have I set my face like flint,
   and I know I will not be put to shame.
8 He who vindicates me is near.
   Who then will bring charges against me?
   Let us face each other!
Who is my accuser?
   Let him confront me!
9 It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me.
   Who will condemn me?
They will all wear out like a garment;
   the moths will eat them up.

10 Who among you fears the Lord
   and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
   who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
   and rely on their God.
11 But now, all you who light fires
   and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
   and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
   You will lie down in torment.

Everlasting Salvation for Zion

51 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
   and who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were cut
   and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
2 look to Abraham, your father,
   and to Sarah, who gave you birth.
When I called him he was only one man,
   and I blessed him and made him many.
3 The Lord will surely comfort Zion
   and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
he will make her deserts like Eden,
   her wastelands like the garden of the Lord.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
   thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

4 “Listen to me, my people;
   hear me, my nation:
Instruction will go out from me;
   my justice will become a light to the nations.
5 My righteousness draws near speedily,
   my salvation is on the way,
   and my arm will bring justice to the nations.
The islands will look to me
   and wait in hope for my arm.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
   look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
   the earth will wear out like a garment
   and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever,
   my righteousness will never fail.

7 “Hear me, you who know what is right,
   you people who have taken my instruction to heart:
Do not fear the reproach of mere mortals
   or be terrified by their insults.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment;
   the worm will devour them like wool.
But my righteousness will last forever,
   my salvation through all generations.”

9 Awake, awake, arm of the Lord,
   clothe yourself with strength!
Awake, as in days gone by,
   as in generations of old.
Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces,
   who pierced that monster through?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea,
   the waters of the great deep,
who made a road in the depths of the sea
   so that the redeemed might cross over?
11 Those the Lord has rescued will return.
   They will enter Zion with singing;
   everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
   and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you.
   Who are you that you fear mere mortals,
   human beings who are but grass,
13 that you forget the Lord your Maker,
   who stretches out the heavens
   and who lays the foundations of the earth,
that you live in constant terror every day
   because of the wrath of the oppressor,
   who is bent on destruction?
For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
14 The cowering prisoners will soon be set free;
they will not die in their dungeon,
   nor will they lack bread.
15 For I am the Lord your God,
   who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar —
   the Lord Almighty is his name.
16 I have put my words in your mouth
   and covered you with the shadow of my hand —
I who set the heavens in place,
   who laid the foundations of the earth,
   and who say to Zion, ‘You are my people. ’”

Commentary

Never give up trusting in God’s love

Each morning, Isaiah waited on God to speak to him and to instruct him, so that he would know the right words to ‘sustain the weary’ – to encourage those who were tempted to give up (50:4).

In this passage, the way he did this was by speaking to them about God’s love for them. He spoke of God’s compassion (49:10–13), and he used five analogies for God’s love:

  1. Shepherd

    God loves you as a shepherd loves his sheep. God, as the shepherd of Israel, will lead his people back out of exile. In his love, he will make even obstacles serve his purpose (v.11). Jesus picks up this picture of the good shepherd and applies it to himself (John 10:3–15).

  2. Mother

    God’s love for you is greater than any mother’s love for their child. ‘Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you – never’ (Isaiah 49:15, MSG).

  3. Engraver

    The Lord says, ‘I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands’ (v.16, AMP). The Babylonians used tattoos to remind them of the person they loved. God’s love and commitment to you is demonstrated by his engraving of you on the palms of his hands.

  4. Conqueror

    God’s love is like a conqueror (vv.25–26). He is strong enough to carry out his purposes for you and to fight against those who oppress you (v.25).

  5. Husband

    The people were saying God had divorced them because of their sins. God replies that although it was their weakness and their sin that caused the exile, God is able to restore them. He has not divorced them or sold them into slavery (50:1). No one is too far out of God’s reach. He is married to his people. His love for you is greater than the greatest love between a husband and a wife.

Isaiah urges people to keep on trusting in the Lord: ‘Those who hope in me will not be disappointed’ (49:23). God will rescue them through his suffering servant: ‘I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, have I set my face like flint’ (50:6–7).

Jesus, knowing that he was going to be mocked and spat upon, set his face like flint and went to Jerusalem knowing that he would be crucified there. He was utterly determined. He did not give up. God vindicated him (v.8). The result was a great victory and a great harvest.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that those who put their trust in you will never be disappointed. Help me to keep on trusting in your great love for me.

Pippa adds

Galatians 6:9

‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

It is so easy to become discouraged when there is no obvious change in a situation, or the person you are trying to help seems to get worse. This verse says keep going, tempting as it is to give up, for you will eventually reap a harvest.

Verse of the Day

Galatians 6:9

‘… do not give up’
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Bear Grylls,, A Survival Guide for Life (Corgi, 2013), p.29

Winston Churchill excerpt from his address to Harrow School, 29 October 1941. https://www.nationalchurchillmuseum.org/never-give-in-never-never-never.html

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scriptures and additional materials quoted [marked GNB] are from the Good News Bible © 1994 published by the Bible Societies/HarperCollins Publishers Ltd UK, Good News Bible© American Bible Society 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992. Used with permission.

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