Do Not Give Up!
“Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out.”—GALATIANS 6:9.
1, 2. (a) In what ways does a lion hunt? (b) Upon whom is the Devil especially interested in preying?
A LION hunts in various ways. Sometimes it will ambush its prey at water holes or along well-used paths. But sometimes, says the book Portraits in the Wild, a lion “simply takes advantage of a situation—for example, coming upon a sleeping zebra foal.”
2 Our “adversary, the Devil,” explains the apostle Peter, “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Peter 5:8) Knowing that his remaining time is short, Satan is exerting ever greater pressure on humans to keep them from serving Jehovah. However, this “roaring lion” is especially interested in preying upon Jehovah’s servants. (Revelation 12:12, 17) His hunting methods are similar to those of his counterpart in the animal kingdom. How so?
3, 4. (a) What methods does Satan use in preying upon Jehovah’s servants? (b) Because these are “critical times hard to deal with,” what questions are raised?
3 At times Satan tries an ambush—persecution or opposition aimed at breaking our integrity so that we stop serving Jehovah. (2 Timothy 3:12) But, like the lion, at other times the Devil simply takes advantage of a situation. He waits until we get discouraged or grow weary, and then he tries to capitalize on our low emotional state in order to get us to give up. We must not become easy prey!
4 Yet, we are living in the most demanding period in all human history. In these “critical times hard to deal with,” many of us may feel discouraged or weighed down on occasion. (2 Timothy 3:1) How, then, can we avoid growing so weary that we become easy prey for the Devil? Yes, how can we heed the apostle Paul’s inspired counsel: “Let us not give up in doing what is fine, for in due season we shall reap if we do not tire out”?—Galatians 6:9.
When Others Disappoint Us
5. What caused David to grow weary, but what did he not do?
5 In Bible times, even the most faithful servants of Jehovah may have felt weighed down. “I have grown weary with my sighing,” wrote the psalmist David. “All night long I make my couch swim; with my tears I make my own divan overflow. From vexation my eye has become weak.” Why did David feel that way? “Because of all those showing hostility to me,” he explained. The hurtful actions of others caused David such pain of heart that his tears flowed freely. Still, David did not draw away from Jehovah because of what fellow humans had done to him.—Psalm 6:6-9.
6. (a) How may we be affected by the words or actions of others? (b) How do some make themselves easy prey for the Devil?
6 Similarly, the words or actions of others may cause us to grow weary with much pain of heart. “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword,” says Proverbs 12:18. When the thoughtless one is a Christian brother or sister, the ‘stab wound’ can go deep. The human tendency may be to take offense, perhaps harboring resentment. This is especially true if we feel that we have been treated unkindly or unjustly. We may find it hard to talk to the offender; we might even deliberately avoid him or her. Weighed down with resentment, some have given up and have stopped coming to Christian meetings. Sadly, they thereby “allow place for the Devil” to take advantage of them as easy prey.—Ephesians 4:27.
7. (a) How can we avoid playing into the Devil’s hands when others disappoint or hurt us? (b) Why should we let go of resentment?
7 How can we avoid playing into the Devil’s hands when others disappoint or hurt us? We must try not to harbor resentment. Instead, take the initiative to make peace or settle matters as quickly as possible. (Ephesians 4:26) Colossians 3:13 urges us: “Continue . . . forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” Forgiveness is especially fitting when the one who has given offense admits error and is genuinely sorry. (Compare Psalm 32:3-5 and Proverbs 28:13.) It helps us, though, if we keep in mind that to forgive is not to condone or minimize the wrongs that others have committed. To forgive involves letting go of resentment. Resentment is a heavy burden to carry. It can consume our thoughts, robbing us of happiness. It can even affect our health. In contrast, forgiveness, where appropriate, works to our own benefit. May we, like David, never give up and draw away from Jehovah because of what other humans have said or done to us!
When We Fall Short
8. (a) Why do some feel especially guilty at times? (b) What danger is there in getting so swallowed up by guilt that we give up on ourselves?
8 “We all stumble many times,” says James 3:2. When we do, it is only natural to feel guilty. (Psalm 38:3-8) Feelings of guilt can be especially strong if we are battling a weakness of the flesh and experience periodic setbacks.a One Christian who faced such a struggle explained: “I didn’t want to go on living, not knowing if I had committed the unforgivable sin or not. I felt that I might as well not exert myself in Jehovah’s service because it’s probably too late for me anyway.” When we get so swallowed up by guilt that we give up on ourselves, we give the Devil an opening—and he may quickly take advantage of it! (2 Corinthians 2:5-7, 11) What is needed may be a more balanced view of guilt.
9. Why should we have confidence in God’s mercy?
9 When we sin it is appropriate to feel a measure of guilt. Sometimes, though, feelings of guilt persist because a Christian feels that he could never be worthy of God’s mercy. Yet, the Bible warmly assures us: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Is there any sound reason to believe that God will not do that in our case? Remember, in his Word, Jehovah says that he is “ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5; 130:3, 4) Since he cannot lie, he will do as his Word promises, provided we come to him with a repentant heart.—Titus 1:2.
10. What heartwarming reassurance did an earlier Watchtower publish about fighting a weakness of the flesh?
10 What should you do if you are fighting a weakness and have a relapse? Do not give up! A relapse does not necessarily cancel the progress you have already made. The February 15, 1954, issue of this journal offered this heartwarming reassurance: “We [may] find ourselves stumbling and falling many times over some bad habit that has bitten more deeply into our former pattern of life than we had realized. . . . Do not despair. Do not conclude you have committed the unforgivable sin. That is just how Satan would like you to reason. The fact that you feel grieved and vexed with yourself is proof in itself that you have not gone too far. Never weary of turning humbly and earnestly to God, seeking his forgiveness and cleansing and help. Go to him as a child goes to his father when in trouble, no matter how often on the same weakness, and Jehovah will graciously give you the help because of his undeserved kindness and, if you are sincere, he will give you the realization of a cleansed conscience.”
When We Feel That We Are Not Doing Enough
11. (a) How should we feel about sharing in the Kingdom-preaching work? (b) What feelings about sharing in the ministry do some Christians struggle with?
11 The Kingdom-preaching work plays an important part in the life of a Christian, and sharing in it brings joy. (Psalm 40:8) Some Christians, though, feel very guilty about not being able to do more in the ministry. Such guilt could even erode our joy and cause us to give up, imagining that Jehovah feels that we never do enough. Consider the feelings that some struggle with.
“Do you know how time-consuming poverty is?” wrote one Christian sister who with her husband is raising three children. “I must conserve wherever I can. This means spending time searching through thrift shops, clearance racks, or even sewing clothes. I also spend an hour or two each week working on [discount food] coupons—cutting, filing, and trading them. At times I feel very guilty doing these things, thinking that I should be spending that time out in the field service.”
“I thought I must not really love Jehovah enough,” explained a sister with four children and an unbelieving husband. “So I struggled with my serving Jehovah. I tried really hard, but I never felt that it was enough. You see, I didn’t have any feeling of self-worth, so I could not imagine how Jehovah could ever accept my service to him.”
A Christian who found it necessary to leave the full-time service said: “I couldn’t stand the idea that I was failing in my commitment to serve Jehovah full-time. You can’t imagine how disappointed I was! I cry now remembering.”
12. Why do some Christians feel very guilty about not being able to do more in the ministry?
12 It is only natural to want to serve Jehovah as fully as possible. (Psalm 86:12) Why, though, do some feel very guilty about not being able to do more? For some, it appears to be related to a general feeling of worthlessness, perhaps resulting from unpleasant experiences in life. In other cases, inappropriate guilt may result from an unrealistic view of what Jehovah expects of us. “I had felt that unless it hurts, you must not be doing enough,” admitted one Christian. As a result, she set excessively high standards for herself—and then felt even guiltier when she was unable to reach them.
13. What does Jehovah expect of us?
13 What does Jehovah expect of us? Put simply, Jehovah expects us to serve him whole-souled, doing what our circumstances allow. (Colossians 3:23) There may, however, be a big difference between what we would like to do and what we realistically can do. We may be limited by such factors as age, health, physical stamina, or family responsibilities. Nevertheless, when we do all we can, we may feel assured that our service to Jehovah is whole-souled—no more and no less whole-souled than that of someone whose health and circumstances allow him to be in the full-time ministry.—Matthew 13:18-23.
14. What can you do if you need help in determining what you can realistically expect of yourself?
14 How, then, can you determine what you can realistically expect of yourself? You may wish to talk over the matter with a trusted, mature Christian friend, perhaps an elder or an experienced sister, who knows your abilities, your limitations, and your family responsibilities. (Proverbs 15:22) Remember that in God’s eyes your worth as a person is not measured by how much you do in the field ministry. All of Jehovah’s servants are precious to him. (Haggai 2:7; Malachi 3:16, 17) What you do in the preaching work may be more or less than what others do, but as long as it represents your best, Jehovah is pleased, and there is no need for you to feel guilty.—Galatians 6:4.
When Much Is Demanded of Us
15. In what ways is much demanded of congregation elders?
15 “Everyone to whom much was given,” said Jesus, “much will be demanded of him.” (Luke 12:48) Certainly ‘much is demanded’ of those serving as congregation elders. Like Paul they expend themselves in behalf of the congregation. (2 Corinthians 12:15) They have talks to prepare, shepherding calls to make, judicial cases to handle—all without neglecting their own families. (1 Timothy 3:4, 5) Some elders are also busy helping to build Kingdom Halls, serving on Hospital Liaison Committees, and volunteering at assemblies and conventions. How can these hardworking, devoted men avoid growing weary under the weight of such responsibilities?
16. (a) What practical solution did Jethro offer Moses? (b) What quality will enable an elder to share appropriate responsibilities with others?
16 When Moses, a modest and humble man, was wearing himself out in caring for the problems of others, his father-in-law, Jethro, offered a practical solution: share some responsibility with other qualified men. (Exodus 18:17-26; Numbers 12:3) “Wisdom is with the modest ones,” says Proverbs 11:2. To be modest means to recognize and accept your limitations. A modest man is not reluctant to delegate to others, nor does he fear that he somehow loses control by sharing appropriate responsibilities with other qualified men.b (Numbers 11:16, 17, 26-29) Instead, he is eager to help them to progress.—1 Timothy 4:15.
17. (a) How may congregation members lighten the load of elders? (b) What sacrifices do the wives of elders make, and how can we show them that we do not take these for granted?
17 Congregation members can do much to lighten the load of elders. Understanding that elders have their own families to care for, others will not make unreasonable demands on the elders’ time and attention. Neither will they take for granted the willing sacrifices that the wives of elders make as they unselfishly share their husbands with the congregation. One mother of three whose husband serves as an elder explained: “Something I never complain about is the extra load I willingly carry in the household so that my husband can serve as an elder. I know that Jehovah’s blessing is rich on our family because of his serving, and I do not begrudge what he gives. Yet, realistically, I often have to rake more leaves and do more of the disciplining of our children than I would otherwise because my husband is busy.” Sadly, this sister found that some, instead of appreciating her extra load, made insensitive remarks such as, “Why aren’t you pioneering?” (Proverbs 12:18) How much better it is to commend others for what they are doing rather than criticize them for what they are not able to do!—Proverbs 16:24; 25:11.
Because the End Has Not Yet Come
18, 19. (a) Why is this no time to stop running in the race for everlasting life? (b) What timely advice did the apostle Paul give to the Christians in Jerusalem?
18 When a runner knows that he is near the end of a long race, he does not give up. His body may be at the limit of its endurance—exhausted, overheated, and dehydrated—but so near to the finish is no time to stop running. Similarly, as Christians we are in a race for the prize of life, and we are very near the finish line. Now is not the time for us to stop running!—Compare 1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 2:16; 3:13, 14.
19 Christians in the first century faced a similar situation. About 61 C.E., the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Jerusalem. Time was running out—the wicked “generation,” the apostate Jewish system of things, was about to “pass away.” Especially did the Christians in Jerusalem have to be alert and faithful; they would need to flee from the city when they saw it surrounded by encamped armies. (Luke 21:20-24, 32) Timely, then, was Paul’s inspired advice: ‘Do not get tired and give out in your souls.’ (Hebrews 12:3) The apostle Paul here used two vivid verbs: “get tired” (kaʹmno) and “give out” (e·klyʹo·mai). According to one Bible scholar, these Greek words were “used by Aristotle of runners who relax and collapse after they have passed the finishing post. The readers [of Paul’s letter] were still in the race. They must not give way prematurely. They must not allow themselves to faint and collapse through weariness. Once again there is the call to perseverance in the face of hardship.”
20. Why is Paul’s advice timely for us today?
20 How timely Paul’s advice is for us today! In the face of increasing pressures, there may be times when we feel like an exhausted runner whose legs are about to give out. But so near to the finish line, we must not give up! (2 Chronicles 29:11) That is just what our Adversary, the “roaring lion,” would want us to do. Thankfully, Jehovah has made provisions that give “to the tired one power.” (Isaiah 40:29) What these are and how we can take advantage of them will be discussed in the next article.
a For example, some may struggle to control a deeply ingrained personality trait, such as a bad temper, or to overcome a problem with masturbation.—See Awake!, May 22, 1988, pages 19-21; November 8, 1981, pages 16-20; and Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, pages 198-211, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
b See the article “Elders—Delegate!” in the October 15, 1992, issue of The Watchtower, pages 20-3.
What Is Your Answer?
◻ How can we avoid giving up when others disappoint or hurt us?
◻ What balanced view of guilt will keep us from giving up?
◻ What does Jehovah expect of us?
◻ How can modesty help congregation elders to avoid growing weary?
◻ Why is Paul’s advice at Hebrews 12:3 timely for us today?