You don’t hear this phrase much anymore, “winners never quit.” In fact, if we are honest, if there is one thing that we are really good at, it is quitting. We live in a culture where the option to quit is ever present. If problems are piling up or things just don’t seem to be going the way you envisioned, don’t worry you can always just quit. If you aren’t doing as well as you would like in a difficult class, you can drop the class. If you don’t like the way things are going at work . . . quit. If you are putting on more weight than you would like, you can just stop worrying about what you eat and buy bigger pants. If you don’t like the music at church, go to a different church. If you aren’t as happy with your marriage as you once were, get a divorce.
To be sure, the option to quit is inherent in every situation we face, and Americans are really good at quitting. More exercise equipment is sold in the United States than any other country and yet we are by far the most overweight country in the world . . . someone is not sticking to their plan to exercise! Divorce rates are embarrassing in America (roughly ~50%!). The message our culture is sending us is that quitting is always a possibility and you shouldn’t feel bad as long as you give it your best. But, the desire to tuck-tale and run often flies in the face of Scripture. What if Moses had said, “I asked Pharaoh to let us go, he said ‘No,’ so lets just call it quits and hang out in slavery here in Egypt?” (Moses basically did say that, but God wouldn’t have it; cf. Exodus 2-4.) What if Paul had said, “You know what, I am really tired, I am just going to hang out here at Antioch, someone else can take the gospel to the nations?” What if Jesus had said, “The cross is too much, I am calling down angels to rescue me?”
I have recently been teaching through the book of 1 Peter to the adults at my church in Sunday school. I recently taught on what is called the ‘household code’ in 1 Peter, which is really just Peter’s commands to husbands, wives, and slaves in 1 Peter 2-3. The situations Peter sets up are situations we are not likely to face, thus we tend to just gloss over 1 Peter 2-3 and lump it in the pile of Scriptures that we think don’t relate to us today. If you are still reading this post you are likely wondering what this has to do with quitting. It has everything to do with quitting, let me tell you why . . .
There are two particular situations that Peter addresses that relate to the issue of quitting. In my next post, I will address Peter’s command to slaves, but for now I want to address his commands to wives. The situation Peter addresses concerning wives was one that many new Christians in Asia Minor (see 1 Pet. 1:1) likely faced—what to do if you are Christian but your spouse doesn’t believe. What do you do if you are married to someone who doesn’t believe the gospel of Jesus Christ?
If you are a Christian, the most valuable thing in your life is your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. If you are married to an unbeliever you cannot relate with your spouse about the most valuable thing in your life! That is not easy. Though I am not married, I can imagine that this would be an incredibly difficult situation to be in. I can imagine the difficult conversations that would arise, I can imagine the tears that would be shed, I can imagine thoughts of despair creeping up. Today, when things get hard, there is always the option to quit. Peter doesn’t give that option. Peter tells believing wives “to be subject” to their husbands ‘even if some do not obey the word” (3:1). What Peter hopes will happen in the midst of this difficult situation is for “the respectful and pure conduct” of these wives to allow the wives to win their husbands “without a word.” While we could talk a great deal about what this conduct looks like, an important point that we must see is this—don’t quit on your spouse. The principle is simple—don’t quit. Your spouse refuses to believe and therefore you simply can’t encourage one another in the Lord—that is not a valid excuse to quit. The Lord just might use your perseverance to win your spouse! Even if God chooses not to change your spouse, the command is still there—be subject to your husband!
You probably aren’t facing this particular situation, but certainly you are faced with the temptation to quit. You might be tempted to drop a class, stop working out, quit your job, or quit balancing your checkbook—all of which are monumentally smaller things to quit on than a marriage, but I think we ought to be careful not to develop a pattern of quitting. It’s worth your time to stop and think about whether or not you are a perpetual quitter. You may not be doing well in a class, but if you determine to study harder, you might be better off for it. You may think balancing your checkbook is no big deal, but your family will be thankful when you are able to care and provide for them because you have been wise with what the Lord has given you. You may not work in a ‘Christian environment,’ but if you stick it out at your job, someone might just hear the gospel. And that is really what is constantly at stake in our lives as Christians isn’t it? We are constantly faced with the challenge of displaying the gospel in everything we do. Are you displaying the gospel at home, at school, at work, and at church? Probably not if you are quitting everything you start.
Start small, try refusing the temptation to quit before you finished running the amount of laps you said you would. See if you can’t study a little bit harder and do better on the next test. Don’t cancel on brother from church that wants to meet for fellowship. What in your life are you constantly tempted to quit on? The option to quit is always there but what does that say about you? Don’t quit. Jesus didn’t.