Never Give Up
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.
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.
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.’
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.
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 reaches the end of this letter, he encourages 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).
8 “In the time of my favour I will answer you,
and in the day of salvation I will help you...
10...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.
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.
23 ...Then you will know that I am the Lord;
those who hope in me will not be disappointed.
25 I will contend with those who contend with you,
and your children I will save.'
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:
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).
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).
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.
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).
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.
‘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
‘… do not give up’
Thought for the Day
‘Be the most enthusiastic person you know. Enthusiasm sustains you when times are tough, encourages those around you and is totally infectious.’
– Bear Grylls
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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.