Why People Give Up on Good Things
by Abraham Smith
Some solutions to consider
In today's times, many good efforts have been started and then abandoned. Churches have initiated efforts to save the lost, but they stopped. People have given up on themselves. Students have given up on their education. Husbands and wives have given up on their marriages. Children of God have given up on doing the will of God. Children of God have given up the faith. Both Elijah and Paul were tempted to quit serving the Lord (I Kings 19; II Corinthians 1:8-11). Why do people give up? Here are some reasons:
We forget how important our cause is.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the importance of the things to which we have committed ourselves. Jesus remembered this in recognizing His commitment to die for the sins of the world (John 12:27). Additionally, we need to remember the importance of keeping commitments. As God honors His promise to us by giving us the gift of eternal life, so should we honor all the commitments we make in our lives.
God's gracious gift, which is conditionally received, honored Christ's commitment to the will of God. Likewise, we should honor our commitments to Him when we agree to walk as He walked and to participate in the life He demands of us (Luke 6:46).
We have not conditioned our hearts to face difficult challenges.
Ezra prepared his heart (Ezra 7:10). Anything that is worth having often cannot be achieved without paying a great price. We must begin our task with the realization that there will be some difficulties ahead, and we should expect them! "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12).
We do not attempt to succeed with all our might.
Sometimes goals cannot be achieved without us giving all we can give (II Chronicles 31:21; Jeremiah 48:10; Colossians 3:23). "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Jesus said, "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:33).
We do not lay aside every weight and every sin.
We cannot carry on with extra weight and sin (Hebrews 12:1-2). Our sins destroy our faith, which "is the victory that has overcome the world" (I John 5:4).
We focus too much on our failures or shortcomings.
We must forget the past and press on with the future. Paul said, "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14). If we do not forget the past, we will be discouraged.
We do not learn from our own mistakes or the mistakes of others.
As a result, we experience the same result of failure, and then become discouraged and quit (Jude 5). Paul reminded the Corinthians that they must learn from the failures of those in Moses' day (I Corinthians 10:1-11). These things are written to the intent that we do not fall after the same example of unbelief and lust for evil things.
We do not receive any encouragement, but ridicule.
We must remember that we have a responsibility to compliment others when they do well (I Thessolonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24). Those of us who are weak and have problems need to hear the words, "You can make it if you try!" "I'm here for you!" "Don't give up!" Concerning the assembly, Christians were admonished, "encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:25).
Those individuals who do beneficial things for us need to hear on a regular basis, "I appreciate the great job you are doing." When we express and show our gratitude for the meaningful things they do for us, we are encouraging them to continue.
Our duty to encourage others is not a one-time deal. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called 'Today,' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13). Whether someone does beneficial things for us or someone is experiencing difficulties, we should regularly inquire about how he is doing. We should offer our support, advice, and assistance where possible and permissible.
We do not focus on the rewards of our efforts.
The reward of a faithful life is heaven (I Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 6:10-12). "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Galatians 6:9).
We have not noticed that others with fewer advantages have succeeded.
Jesus stated that Nineveh had repented at the preaching of Jonah, but someone greater than Jonah, Himself, was there (Matthew 12:41). The author of Hebrews, in chapter 11, listed many men of faith who had suffered many things. Then he said, "You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin" (Hebrews 12:4). Many have made far more sacrifices with fewer advantages than we. Shall we with more opportunities and less challenges do less than they have done?
Children of God forget the words of Jesus, "But with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
We ought to agree with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). The song says, "Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged; Take it to the Lord in prayer." Peter admonished Christians to cast all their care upon the Lord, "for He cares for you" (I Peter 5:7). "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
We spend too much time trying to analyze a problem rather than doing something about it.
We must be careful to avoid the "paralysis of analysis." We need to consider our choices, but then we need to put one foot forward to accomplish our choice.
We should also recognize that salvation is not something to procrastinate. We must not have the attitude of Agrippa who said, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian" (Acts 26:28). Nor should we be as Felix waiting for a more convenient time (Acts 24:25). We need to understand the word "now." "Now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2)! According to Romans 2:6-8, we can only be saved if we continue in doing what is good.
We forget that God has commanded us to do certain things.
Whatever God commands that we do, we have no choice but to do it (Matthew. 7:21). And every time we consider giving up on these things, we must remember Jesus' words, "Not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42).
We try too early in our labors to assess how well we are doing.
We must have patience. If we focus too much on the early stages of our efforts, we may become discouraged to the point of quitting. I am reminded of the story that Jesus told about the unfruitful plant. The owner commanded that it be destroyed. But one of his workers requested that he be allowed time to work on the plant to see how it would do (Luke 13:6-9). Even so, many other things require time, such as a new worker on a job, a new preacher, and other examples the reader can supply.
We open our ears repetitively to those who advise us to quit just as Mrs. Job did in Job 2:9.
We may be sure that there are many things (unscriptural) that we should never start and should quit. But if we judge a goal as worthy of our pursuit, then we should spend more time working to fulfill that goal rather than hearing the message, "It won't work," or "You should give up."
When the Lord told his disciples of the redemptive work of his death and resurrection, Peter rebuked him saying, "This shall not happen to You!" But Jesus had to tell him, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men" (Matthew 6:21-23).
We do not realize that "the just shall live by faith" and we should "walk by faith, not by sight".
Faith should not be blind but intelligent (Romans 1:17; II Corinthians 5:7; I John 5:4). This faith that "comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" has been thoroughly substantiated and validated by many "infallible proofs" (Romans 10:17; Acts 1:3).
Our faith must have the foundation of the word of God, but we should not have to prove everything before we take a single step. While waiting for absolute proof, we may become discouraged and quit. Abraham and others did not quit, though they died without receiving or seeing all the promises fulfilled (Hebrews 11:10-16).
We do not realize that we are most tempted to quit doing good things when we are at our weakest point.
We should give ourselves time to become strong. Let that weak moment pass. If you are sick, allow yourself time to get well. If you are wearied with your load, take a break and be refreshed. Then decide if you should quit (II Corinthians 1:8-11). Troubles and trials will not last always!
We allow our adversary the devil to persuade us to quit.
He throws obstacles in our way (I Thessalonians 2:18). But we must allow God to reside in our hearts. Then we can truthfully say, He who is in us "is greater than he who is in the world" (I John 4:4).
When we endeavor to do what is good, we should expect Satan to oppose us. We should remember to resist him steadfast in faith. If we resist him, he will flee from us (James 4:7; I Peter 5:8-9). We should also remember that he departs waiting for an "opportune time" to return again (Luke 4:13).
In a similar way, we may also have other adversaries. If we quit because of them, we have not fully recognized through God's word that we have the power within to overcome.
We blame others and make excuses for not doing what we should.
As long as we are inclined to blame others and make excuses, we will not be motivated to continue to do what we should (Luke 14:16-24).
We forget that we are often responsible for the difficulties that tempt us to quit.
If our children give us trouble because we have set a poor example, been inattentive to their needs, or have done them wrong otherwise, we should be more patient rather than giving up on them.
Husbands who do not love their wives as Christ loved the church or wives who do not submit themselves unto their own husbands as unto the Lord will have difficult marriages and will be tempted to quit (Ephesians 5:22-33). "Friends" who are backbiters, whisperers, or busy bodies in other men's matters, will find difficulty in maintaining friendships (I Peter 4:15; Romans 1:29-30). Elders and preachers who do not imitate the character of Jesus may find their way to be difficult (Philippians 2:3-11).
All of us need to remember the words of Solomon, "The way of the unfaithful is hard" (Proverbs 13:15). I Peter 2: 20 teaches that it is the least we can do to be patient and endure harsh treatment when we sin.
We are not patient.
We forget that God is patient with us. So must we be with others. See Romans 2:4; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:2.
We do not get off to a good start.
When we have tasted success, we are motivated to taste it again. When we get off to a good start, we develop good memories that motivate us to achieve the same success that we had at the beginning. If we do not have a good start, we may doubt whether we will ever achieve success.
Those who get off to a good start do so because they do the right things at the beginning. Thus before we begin anything, whether it is a new job or career, a friendship, a marriage, having children, becoming a preacher, or becoming a child of God -a Christian- we must count the cost at the beginning.
To have a good start with the Lord, one must love the Lord far above "his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also" and "bear his cross" (Luke 14:26-27). Otherwise, we cannot be disciples of Jesus.
We do not realize that others are watching us and are influenced by our examples.
We must realize that it is impossible to be neutral with reference to our influence. Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Luke 11:23).
Thus, those whom we influence include our children, friends, relatives, coworkers, spouses, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and anyone else! When we quit what is good, then these others are influenced to do the same.
We do not pray for others and believe that our prayers make a difference.
This can be seen in James 5:16-20 with the example of Elijah. In the process of saving a sinner's soul from death, we must remember that "the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (v. 16).
Exodus 32:11-14 records Moses' prayer for the Israelites who sinned. The result of Moses' prayer was "the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people" (v. 14). Children of God must pray for others so they won't give up.
We are unwilling to do that "one" thing (required of us by God) that seems so insurmountable, so hard to do.
There was a certain ruler who was willing to obey the commandments (Matthew 19:16-24). But, "Jesus said to him, 'If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.' But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions."
The "one" thing Jesus requires is different from person to person as we have different weaknesses. It may be forgiving or loving someone, confessing a dreaded sin, marital reconciliation, expressing boldly our faith in the presence of adversaries (or worldly "friends"), etc. Nevertheless, God is there to help. When we fail to do that one thing that is difficult in our lives, we often give up on the rest of what God has asked us to do.
We are unwilling to read the Bible in its entirety as we should.
Thus we become weak and are not strong to resist sin and continue in well doing (Matthew 4:4; Psalms 119:9-11; II Timothy 2:15; I Peter 3:1-2; Hebrews 4:11-12).
We have "too many irons in the fire."
Often times we cannot do certain things while doing others. If we attempt to do so, we will be forced to give up one or both of them. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). Students cannot be involved in every organization and make straight A's. Even with our desires, we cannot maintain great desire for godliness while having a desire for worldliness. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).
Sometimes, the things we must give up in order to do what we ought are not bad things. They simply do not have as high a priority. Things having a higher priority must be done first or they might not ever get done. I heard of a man who once contributed many volumes of material for others to study the Bible, but he neglected his role as spiritual leader and guide to his family, and he lost all his children.
We do not recognize that the best conditions for success and the opportunities to succeed will not last forever.
There are many things in life that we must act upon now. Otherwise, we may as well give up. The children of Israel were told to go up into the land of Canaan. At first they refused. Later when they recognized their error, they decided to go up, but it was too late (Numbers 14:1-5, 35-45). Many of us keep waiting and putting off things that we know we should do. Then there comes a time when it is too late!
We attempt things that we do not have the ability to do.
In recognizing that there are some things which we lack the ability to do, we must realize that doing God's will is not one of them. God has provided us with the means to do whatever he asks us to do. "God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able" (I Corinthians 10:13).
We do not realize when we are actually giving up.
A synonym for not giving up is persistence. Persistence means continually doing something (I Corinthians 15:58). If we are not doing anything toward achieving a goal, we have quit. Sometimes people say that they have not given up. But what they mean is that they have not stopped wishing that something would occur. But the issue still remains, what are you doing to make it happen?
Ultimately, the reason people quit serving the Lord is either they have given up, or have lost their faith in God and the Bible.
When we believe the Scriptures, its message to continue should be enough. If it is not enough, if it will not settle our minds, then we have lost faith. We need to regain it again by becoming an honest seeker of truth, thus repenting and exercising our faith in obedience (Hebrews 3:12; 4:1, 11).
During World War 2, Winston Churchill was invited to speak at a High School graduation. The only words he spoke were, "Never, never, never quit!" That needs to be our attitude as well, because we can only be saved if we continue in doing what is good (Romans 2:6-8).
As you can see there are many reasons why people quit serving the Lord. Whatever reasons they give the consequence is the same-eternal damnation (Luke 12:42-46; I Corinthians 9:27; Hebrews 12:15; Matthew 25:24-30). For that reason, let us resolve to persevere in our faithful service to God (I Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9; Revelation 2:10).