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The Fortitude to Finish

Somebody observed that it's always too soon to quit. Well, almost always. The story goes that when Diane found out she was pregnant, she lit up the phone lines telling everyone the good news. One day she took her four-year-old son, Sam, shopping. A woman asked the little guy if he was excited about the baby. "Yes!" Sam said, "and I know what we are going to name it, too. If it's a girl, we're calling her Molly. And if it's another boy we're calling it quits!" Have you ever called it quits? Have you ever wanted to? Calling it quits on having babies can be a good thing. And calling it quits on things like smoking cigarettes or drinking alcoholic beverages or doing drugs or cursing or gossiping or gambling or committing adultery would all be very good things. But there is one thing we ought not to ever quit — we ought not to ever quit on the Lord. Many places in the Bible teach this great truth, but consider this one in Hebrews 12:1-3 where some race-weary Christians are given the following charge: "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls." Wow! Is that passage relevant for the church or what?! This inspired writer has seemingly been reading our mail & our minds. It seems many who are baptized into Christ forget that victory comes not to those who begin the Christian race but to those who actually stay the course and finish.

Discouragement is bedeviling the church of our Lord. There are so many problems and imperfections in the church. The elders are discouraged with the deacons. The deacons are discouraged with members. The members are discouraged with the preachers. And the preachers are discouraged with the elders and the deacons and the members! Attendance is down, especially on Sunday and Wednesday nights. The contribution is like a yo-yo and it is hard to make the budget, even as some members spend more on boats and cars and cigarettes and movies and maybe even the lottery than they spend on the Lord and His work. Finding people who are willing to sit on a pew and listen is no problem, but finding people willing to teach and serve is a problem. Hundreds show up for a fun-day but only a handful for a work-day. I could go on and on, but you get the picture — there is a trainload of things about the church that can discourage even the stoutest of souls. So, where do we find the fortitude to press on toward the finish when we grow discouraged and want to quit? Hear it again: we must fix on and ever look to the One whose race course led to and through a cross! Have you quit on the Lord and your service to Him and His church? If you have, ask yourself this provocative question — aren't you glad Jesus didn't quit on you? Think about it.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ