Quitters Never Win

Winston Churchill is famously misquoted as saying, in a commencement speech, “Never, never, never give up.” The fact is, Churchill said more than that, and he didn’t even say that exactly. What he did say was this, and it was actually something he told his alma mater that he said to himself in the midst of school: “But for everyone, surely, what we have gone through in this period — I am addressing myself to the School — surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: 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.” Essentially, he is saying what most people who use the misquote are trying to say: don’t quit when you think times are difficult.

The great football coach Vince Lombardi has been likewise misquoted as saying, “Winners never quit and quitters never win,” but that, too, was never said by Lombardi. But the idea is worthwhile, is it not? Whether it is Churchill’s actual quote or this quote that was likely never said by Lombardi, the wisdom behind the thoughts is worthy of our consideration for those who are Christians, because our adversary would like nothing better than us quitting.

From time to time, I run across someone who has “quit the church” [in all reality, they have quit serving the Lord] and hear or read their ‘reasons’ for quitting. Let me just say this: No matter how valid your complaint may seem to be, there is no good reason to quit serving the Lord. And if the ones I have seen are any indication, there are quite a few individuals out there who are misdirecting their anger and disappointment at the Lord, when He is not the one who has hurt them or disappointed them. But, again, the devil is okay with that. As long as the individuals direct their anger and disappointment at someone else, he knows they won’t be upset with him, the one behind it all!

But those who are still faithful to the Lord need to know some of the ways we may become disappointed, discouraged, or just hurt that may cause us to even consider quitting. Let us consider just one of those things today so we will be prepared to answer and stand firm in the faith. A football player who doesn’t watch the tapes of the team he is playing next, and one who doesn’t know the tactics of the individual players he will face, will be far less prepared than the one who does, and it may cost him personally, and result in a loss for the team.

Bad Behavior. Quite a few [a majority, in fact] of the ‘reasons’ I have heard or read as excuses for quitting the Lord have to do with the bad behavior of their fellow believers; some of the criticism is valid, and some is not, but to use any of it as an excuse for quitting the Lord is never justified. ‘Quitting the church’ [the Lord] because some member acted badly would be like quitting your job because someone there acted badly. The bad actor remains there, getting paid and possibly continuing to act badly, while you are just out of a job and not getting paid. You have not helped correct anyone or anything, and you have harmed only yourself.

If you are at a church where one member is not acting or living as a Christian should, the proper response, according to God, is not ‘quitting the church,’ but confronting the one in error. The Bible gives us clear instruction as to how we are to address true error and sin with another brother or sister (cf. Matt. 18:15-17), and just quitting is not the answer. Quitting changes nothing except your standing before God — and not for the better. When you quit, the devil wins.

If you are tempted to give up on the Lord because one of His disciples is acting badly, it would also be wise to take a step back and think about a few things before making any decision that will affect your own spiritual standing before God. First, ask yourself what your expectations are for your brethren; are you expecting perfection? Good luck with that. We are all human last time I checked and, according to God’s word, not one of us is perfect. No, in fact, what we know is “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Even the great characters of the Bible such as David, Abraham, Peter, and Paul all had faults and sinned, so we should not be deceiving ourselves into thinking Christians “should be” perfect or never do anything wrong or stupid. There is a reason God established a plan whereby His people could be forgiven even after they become Christians: It’s because we will still fail and still sin (cf. 1 John 1:8-10). Being a Christian doesn’t mean you become perfect and sinless; it means you have a means of being forgiven.

Second, before you make any decision that will negatively affect your standing before God, it would also be wise to take a good, hard, long look in the mirror before you use someone else’s perceived faults as an excuse to ‘quit the church’ or the Lord. Here, too, we find there is a reason why Jesus said we should take a look at self before judging our brother (Matt. 7:1-5): It’s because that is what we tend to do — often. We tend to look at the faults of others as ‘major’ and our faults as ‘minor’ or even non-existent. It is the self-righteous who looks at the faults of another and sees none of his own (Luke 7:36-50).

If you do this first, and if you are honest, you will have to admit you are not without fault, either. Make corrections within your own life before you point to someone else’s faults; then, and only then, can you point out their faults. And if you should get that far, remember that the point of noting others’ faults is not to make yourself feel better or to make yourself look better than him or her, but with the aim of correcting those faults so he will once again be right with God. Remember, our aim in noting another’s faults is to restore them (cf. 1 Cor. 5:4, 5), and if we are successful, we “will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (Jas. 5:19, 20). Quitting helps no one, but rather harms yourself and the one who is not corrected.

The Importance of Forgiveness. If you have done all you should and you still think things are not as they should be, we still must remember one important factor in all this: forgiveness. If you have done all you can do [and don’t say you did when you have not], you still must be willing to forgive one who has done wrong, or at least have a forgiving attitude. One of the great characteristics of our God is that He is “good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon” Him (Psa. 86:5), and toward you and me, no less. Remember, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities” (Psa. 103:10). With that in mind, we must then recall that we are to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). That means we need to forgive when they don’t deserve it, and we need to be “ready to forgive,” too.

And if you’re still set on not forgiving, remember this: “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:15). If you are unwilling to show mercy, don’t expect any when you stand before God in Judgment (Jas. 2:13).

Quitting is not an option. Steven Harpers