Giving up
by Dr. Ken Matto
(Neh 6:10-15 KJV) Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee. {11} And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in. {12} And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. {13} Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me. {14} My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear. {15} So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.
Nehemiah was attempting to finish the wall of Jerusalem while Satan continually sent his emissaries to hinder and stop the work. Nehemiah had great spiritual insight about the project at hand and he knew what his priorities were. He would not allow Satan's agents to discourage him from completing God's work on the wall. Here is a great spiritual picture of Christ building the church, which is the New Jerusalem. Remember how many mocked Him while He was on the cross and told Him to come down?
(Mat 27:40-42 KJV) And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. {41} Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, {42} He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.
If Christ would have come down and did not go through with His sacrifice for the sins of the elect, the New Jerusalem would not have been built and we would all be in our sins and on our way to hell.
When we view our daily work as God's work, even if it is mundane and rote, you will approach your Christian walk as something special and will emanate a Christian fragrance. The key verse is eleven! Nehemiah knew his position in God and knew what he had to do. His eyes were set on the goal and because he knew these hindrances were satanic in origin, he kept working until he attained his goal of completing the wall in 52 days. NEHEMIAH WAS NOT GOING TO QUIT AND GIVE SATAN THE VICTORY!
We are in the same arena with Nehemiah as we face discouragement, hindrances, and problems each day. Are we going to quit in the face of adversity? When a Christian surrenders to situation, is there a ripple effect to that decision? There sure is! I would like to discuss six consequences we must face when we give up. There may be many others but these will serve as a guideline to get your spiritual thought process in gear.
When an adverse situation arises in our life, the normal action is to try to work through it. If the problem escalates, we sometimes despair and give up. Many lack "tensile strength" which is an industrial term for tension capability. God wants to stretch our faith and build strong character into our lives but if we give up, we truncate His efforts and we take a step backward in our Christian walk.
Each situation which comes into our life is designed to strengthen our Christian character. Anyone can be a Christian when conditions are favorable but God's greatest Saints become great because they bear up under heavy adversity and come out of it a stronger, battle-hardened soldier for Christ. If giving up is a part of our life, then all we may expect is a life of failure and discouragement. After we give up, we may look at other Christians who seem so strong and ask, "Why does God choose them all the time for certain things?" He probably chooses them because they do not abandon ship at the sight of a cloud, never mind the storm itself.
Philippians 4:13 states, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
This is not an idle promise because Paul experienced a tremendous amount of persecution before he penned that verse. When adversity strikes, thank the Lord because He has chosen to build your character in preparation for something. God does everything with a valid purpose. When we understand that principle, trials will seem less harsh.
Nehemiah had great faith in God when he began the wall project and since he did not give up when adversity struck, his faith in God increased during the time of the building of the wall. This may be borne out by his prayers. If he had no faith, he would not have continued to pray such bold requests but he knew that this work was of God and if it was completed, God would have to dissolve the hindrances which Satan was throwing their way.
He saw how God brought the project to completion, leaving the hindrances to God. (What a principle) A prerequisite of the Christian life is faith.
(Heb 11:6 KJV) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
No one can please God without faith, in fact this verse declares that it is impossible to please God without faith. God engineers our circumstances to our benefit and if we give God time, we will see how marvelously He will work out the situation. We may not understand why He works through adversity but we may be assured it is a proven method. Hebrews 11 gives us treasured insight into how faith in God had allowed His people to perform great tasks. If you have never read Foxes Book of Martyrs, I command you to do so. If you think your life is tough, look at these tried and proven Saints of God who gave ALL.
Just ponder for a moment the mammoth task of leading approximately two million Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness for 40 years. If that task does not require faith, what does? Suppose God asked you to lead the entire population of Arkansas around North America for 40 years, would you quit or would you do it while walking in faith. Moses is in God's "Faith's Hall of Fame" in Hebrews 11 because his faith in God made him strong and quitting was not in his vocabulary.
Fear is one of the strongest weapons in Satan's offensive arsenal. It can cause the believer to come to a full stop. How does this happen? Allow me to give you a scenario: Pastor Smith comes to you and says, "I need someone to organize the Sunday School." You accept and things are running fine for the first 4 months, Then January hits and attendance drops 20%, then February hits and attendance drops 40%, and you are not sure what happened.
The Pastor and the Elders approach you for an explanation but you do not have an answer for them. You go to work on the problem but it seems the church leaders are turning up the heat, so in disgust you quit, and the job is undone. Next year, with all forgiven, you are offered the same job but this time you respond, "No way, when attendance drops you will be jumping all over me again!" Let us look at what has transpired by your refusal of a second chance.
1. Your fear has allowed you to project failure.
2. Your fear has attempted to protect your self-image. (No one wants the stigma of defeatist, even if we are.
3. Your fear has stopped you from forgiving the past and looking ahead.
4. Your fear has prevented you from building on your past failures.
5. Your fear has prevented you from working to the full potential God has given you.
6. Your fear has caused you to open old wounds.
7. Your fear may cast you into your own little world.
One little act of giving up may lead to dire consequences. Fear was given the boot because of our position on Christ. Romans 8:15 states, "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
As I was going through Seminary, I had a small piece of paper in front of me on which I wrote, "Keeping your eyes on the goal will lessen the height of the hurdles." I based that saying on Zechariah 4:6-7:
(Zec 4:6-7 KJV) Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. {7} Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
The "mountain" in verse 7 was the amount of work that had to be done to graduate. I kept reminding myself of graduation, and it helped me to view each course as a stepping stone to victory.
Can you hear it? "These Christians are a bunch of wimps and can't take it!" When we give up, it gives the world a false impression about Christianity. The Holy Spirit dwelling within us will better prepare us for adversity. If you give up, people will believe that all Christians are lazy and fearful of responsibility. The Christian should be at their best when the heat is turned up. As Christians, we have the ability to make decisions and we can either choose to face adversity or run from it.
We have a testimony to the world, whether we realize it or not, and depending on us, it will be either good or bad, because there is no middle road. There is no such thing as a neutral testimony. We must take into account our effect on others whenever we make a decision.
No one can give up without having the mark of irresponsibility placed on them. Christians that give up normally manifest a life of unstable judgments. All believers have the responsibility of remaining faithful to God, regardless of situation.
If a believer cares more about what the world thinks of them that what God thinks of them, they are foolish and immature. Irresponsibility can be devastating especially when it is found in leadership positions. An irresponsible person will rarely get ahead in either the spiritual or secular world. The only time irresponsibility gets promoted is when daddy owns the business.
Giving up may reveal we are not as committed to the deeper spiritual life as we should be. This may bring to light a lack of trust in God, Bible study, and spiritual desire. For a Christian to be a strong warrior in this world, we must continually keep attuned to the Scriptures. The Bible is our guidebook! It is permissible to read books on our chosen field of employment, but they must never take the place of the Scriptures. If our spirituality is shallow, it reveals to us that we must get back on track and take seriously our commitment to Christ.
If adversity hits a shallow Christian, it may devastating because they may question God's love and verity. A Christian must put down deep spiritual roots in Christ. This may be gleaned from the following passage:
(Psa 92:12 KJV) The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
The roots of the palm tree can go down as far as 100 feet (30 meters). This is why we see them bend in a hurricane about 90 degrees and not snap. Their roots are securely fastened in the ground. The Christian must strive to set down spiritual roots in Christ akin to the Palm tree. Unlike the earth, the Christian has a foundation in Christ which cannot be moved or uprooted. Our spiritual condition will greatly improve if we ground ourselves in Christ and not philosophy.
If I can sum up this study in one line it would be, "IT IS ALWAYS TOO EARLY TO QUIT." Give God the opportunity to work His plans in your life and you will see that quitting will become a thing of the past.