Question: If someone were feeling like giving up on following God, what would your “go-to” scripture be for them? When someone says they gave up on church, what do you think they are really saying?
This is such a common problem, and maybe one of the most frustrating as a pastor. This question opens the door to a bigger problem really. I’ll get into that in a minute but first, my go to scripture for giving up? Galatians 6:9 (NASB) says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
Chances are, that scripture might not be any comfort to them. As with any issue, we need to get to the root of the problem if we want to fix it. There are a few common reasons people lose interest in the things of God. Firstly, many people are not getting the quick easy fix they were hoping for. This is maybe the number one issue. People have spent years, sometimes decades, doing bad things or wrapped up in them, and then expect to erase it all over night. I have literally seen this more times than I can count. People will come to a pastor or a strong Christian once they are in trial hoping that maybe their prayer will get through to God and erase consequences. This is a complete misunderstanding of how sin works. Sin is an attack on humanity. When humans embrace or partake of sin, they are inviting destruction on themselves. It’d be like keeping your front door open in the winter and being angry at the furnace installers because your house isn’t warm. It isn’t going to be until you close the door!
Secondly, it is up to us individually to run with God. 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NASB) says, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” What’s interesting here is to understand that Paul wrote these letters to Timothy who was a pastor tempted to quit. It didn’t make Timothy bad, it just made him like every other Christian. Now notice what Paul said to him. “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” God has created in us a new spirit at our new birth and what is in it is power or ability to do what we need to do, the ability to love as God has told us to, and the ability to be disciplined in the things of God. Being disciplined may not be fun but it is necessary. If we say we can’t, we are either not His or we are lying. He made us able.
Thirdly, they may not have ever been His to begin with. I’ve seen people who come to God as a curiosity, but never really embrace any of it at all. Maybe they like the social aspect of church or maybe they’re bored, but they never really had any intent on being a Christian or serving God. They may come to church “religiously” but they don’t read the Bible (or even believe it), they don’t seek the Lord for direction, and they never serve in really anything. Would you say a person like this was ever a “believer”? How could they be?
When people truly come to God there is change. This change will either be embraced by the believer or it will be rejected by them but either way they will not be able to just sit on the fence. The word repentance means change and without repentance a person cannot see Heaven. Jesus said in Luke 5:32 (NASB), “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus is calling people to repentance.
Many people have a misunderstanding of what Jesus did and why He came. We were separated from God because of sin. Jesus came to cleanse us from that sin SO THAT He could open a doorway for us to the Father. Why would we think it’s logical that we could then stay “dirty” and still come in? What this Christian walk does to us is it works the old dirty man out and a new, clean, acceptable man in. What then if we reject what is made clean? If we insist on being dirty we cannot come in. Often times people like the dirty so much, they just won’t let it go.
So if a person wants to give up, as a brother or sister in Christ it is up to us to figure out why and encourage them with the understanding that some simply do not want God. If they choose that, no amount of scripture or love will draw them back. The only thing you can do is pray for them. Perhaps in time, they will see their error.