Don't Give Up!
Don't Give Up!
Many pastors become discouraged and dropout.
Paul addressed this problem when he wrote:
"Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)
Every Christian worker must contend with the weariness that Paul talked about.
It is never easy to work with volunteer help or to operate on freewill offerings.
It is always difficult to try to arouse a sleeping church -- those who are not really committed to God.
It is a draining responsibility to deal with immature saints, and to contend with Satan at the same time.
Not all fields give the same yield.
Some Christian workers have to work in the most discouraging of circumstances.
They are striving to labor with dead congregations that meet in inadequate buildings
located in depressed neighborhoods.
When that's the case, it is difficult to keep going.
It may be that you are in one of those barren situations.
And you are thinking about giving up - about quitting.
Every pastor may feel like that at times.
But don't give up! Don't quit!
We often have to go through hard and discouraging circumstances.
The devil doesn't bother people or churches who are asleep on the job.
But, when we undertake a great work for the Lord,
the devil tries to defeat us by outside opposition or inward discouragement.
This kind of discouragement and the desire to give up are not new.
They lie behind the words of the apostle Paul when he wrote,
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order things that are wanting,
and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee." (Titus 1:5)
The Book of Titus has been called a letter to a discouraged pastor.
Paul had sent Titus to Crete on a special assignment to strengthen the churches.
But the work in Crete was hard, and the people were difficult, if not impossible, to work with.
A poet of Paul's day, named Epimenides, said that all Cretans were liars, wicked brutes and lazy gluttons. (Titus 1:12)
The apostle Paul agreed with this assessment.
Even though Titus was a tough preacher, he had grown weary and discouraged in Crete and wanted to quit.
Some think Titus had written to Paul requesting a new assignment to an easier place.
But, Paul refused the request, and wrote back to Titus.
He told Titus that the reasons why he wanted to quit were the very reasons
he was assigned to Crete in the first place.
Crete was a hard place, and God needed a good man there.
Paul's advice to Titus was to stay in Crete and do the work God had placed him there to do.
What Or Where Is Your Crete?
Geographically, Crete is an island in the Mediterranean Sea.
Why did God put Titus in Crete?
- But, it is symbolic of any place or any thing that you would like to get away from.
- It represents a hard place, a difficult situation, and an impossible people.
- It may be a place of suffering, opposition, and of sorrow.
- We all have our Cretes, no matter who we are.
Why did Paul encourage him to stay in that hard place and not to quit?
Why does God leave us in the tough places, the hard spots, and the discouraging situations of life?
Why doesn't God get us out and move us on?
There are three reasons why God left Titus in Crete and why he often chooses to leave us in our Crete:
God Loves Crete.
- He leaves us in Crete because he loves Crete.
- He leaves to us in Crete to develop us.
- He leaves us in Crete so we can be His instruments in redemption.
No people in the ancient world had a worse reputation than the people of Crete.
If you were to mention the name Crete in the ancient world,
people would think of dishonesty, overindulgence, intemperance, and lazy. (Titus 1:12)
But, in spite of all of that, God loved Crete and wanted to redeem it.
That's why he left Titus there.
If ever there was a place and a people that you would think would be beyond God's love and concern,
surely it would have been Crete.
But the very presence of Titus in Crete tells us that Crete mattered to God.
There are no people so bad and no situation so hopeless that God does not care for them.
God loves the whole world, and Crete is a vital part of it.
How could God love a place as wicked as Crete?
In her book, One In Seven, Marjorie Slattery tells of a young couple
who visited the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia.
While standing on the gorge they witnessed the awesome sight of a 50 ft. tide,
the highest in the world, come swirling in.
Watching the water pushing, pouring, pounding through the gorge, over the low flats, over the banks,
and over the boulders -- they were left breathless.
When the majestic display of power had spent its force, the girl said quietly,
"Why should the personal affairs of two people like us, even for a moment,
claim the attention of a God of might and majesty like that?"
"Because He is God!" Her companion responded.
Why does God love Crete?
It is not because Cretans are lovable; it is because God is love.
God loved Crete not because of what it was but because of what He is.
His love is not dependent on our character, but upon His character.
Love is the supreme and dominant attribute of God.
"God commanded His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans5:8)
God loves us not in our goodness, nor in our purity, nor in our righteousness, but in our sinfulness.
The cross of Christ is the supreme demonstration of that love.
That amazing love of God is expressed to us in 25 familiar and beautiful words,
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
The love of God is immeasurable, unmistakable, and unending.
It reaches wherever people are.
So pastor, don't give up!
Christian, don't give up!
Look at the love of God!
God loves that hard place where you are, and that's why He put that you there.
Don't give up on Crete until God does.
God Cares About You!
God left Titus in Crete, not only because He cared about Crete, but also because He cared about Titus.
God is interested in saving our souls, and then He desires to develop a Christlike character in us.
- He left Titus there, not in order to punish him, but to perfect him.
- It was not to make him miserable, but to make him mature.
- God's goal for our lives is not to make us comfortable,
but to make us conform to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
- God is more concerned about our character than about our comfort.
Christian character is not something we inherit or something that is given to us.
It is something we develop.
Through life's experiences and our response to them, character is built.
Troubles and hardships mixed with faith will mold us into the kind of people we ought to be.
Character does not come easily.
It almost always involves suffering on the part of someone.
To give us the strength of steadfastness and patience in our character,
God marches us against tough opponents, against temptation, against public opinion,
and against discouragement
Great churches and great pastors are not made in softness, but in challenge and response to that challenge.
God knows that strong men and women can not develop in easy places.
People who have never had their faith tested do not know whether they have faith.
God wants to make us to be like Christ, and He allows us to stay in hard places to make us better.
James tells us we should be happy, when different kinds of trials and troubles
come our way because these are the means of developing in us
the strength of character that is a necessary part of Christian maturity. (James 1:2-4)
Pressure produces patience, and patience leads to perfection.
When carbon is under the tremendous pressure of tons of earth, a beautiful diamond is produced.
So, God allows our character to be formed under the pressure of our circumstances.
An unknown poet had this to say:
"When God wants to drill a man
And thrill a man and skill a man,
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart,
To create so great and bold a man,
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
Whom He ruthlessly perfects,
Whom He royally elects!
How He hampers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How he bends but never breaks,
When His good he undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And with every purpose fuses him,
By every act induces him;
To try His splendor out --
God knows what He's about!"
I have lived long enough to thank God for my trials and my troubles.
What seems at times to be been a benediction, with God's help can become the invocation.
What can seem to be the worse thing, can turn out to be the best thing.
So don't give up!
God is making you into the kind of person He wants you to be.
He may be preparing you for greater usefulness in His kingdom.
Don't give up on that discouraging situation.
Often times, it takes a hard place and difficult people to make us into the kind of persons God wants us to be.
God Wants To Use Us!
Finally, God left Titus in Crete because he wanted to use Titus as an instrument to change the world.
Paul told Titus that he was left in Crete to "To set in order" things that were wanting. (Titus 1:5)
The term, set in order, is a medical term that means "to set in the joint."
It describes what a doctor does when you go to him with a broken bone.
Because the parts of the bone are out of the right relationship with one another,
the doctor must pull them back into place, so they can heal properly,
and the limb can be useful once again.
Setting a bone back in place is very painful and unpleasant, but it is a necessary part of healing.
That is part of what God has called us to do.
When we open the doors of our church, it is like opening the doors of a hospital emergency room.
The wounded, the hurting, the bruised and bleeding come in a steady flow.
And I am glad they do!
It is part of our calling to help put broken, shattered lives back together again.
It is difficult, and sometimes unpleasant work, but God has called us to do it, and we must be faithful to our God.
The people of Crete were out of joint with God and out of joint with one another.
Crete could never be right until the church was right,
- God sent Titus to Crete to be a spiritual bone specialist.
- He was not sent to Crete for his comfort and ease.
- He was not sent there for his own professional advancement.
- He was sent there to set things in order in the churches.
and the church could never be right until the pastor and members are right.
By that same token, our world will never be right until the church is right.
So, pastor, don't give up!
Christian, stay in there!
Stay where you are as long as God leaves you there, and God will enable you to set things in order.
Do what God has placed you there to do, and stay with it until God says, "That's enough!"
God uses people to reach people.
We are His instruments in world redemption.
We must not pray that God will take us out of the world, and out of the difficult situations.
We must pray for God to use us where we are.
We must pray for His power to be upon us.
It was a supreme complement to Titus that God should put him in Crete.
A hard place needs a tough pastor, and determined Christians.
Anyone can handle the easy places.
God often sends His best workers to the worse places.
Take that hard place that you are in as a challenge, and as a complement,
then, match it with commitment, and God will bless you.
Knute Rockne, the great Notre Dame football coach use to say, "When the going gets tough,
the tough get going."
That is our challenge!
Life is tough, and if you sail its seas long enough; you will run into a storm.
When you do, don't jump ship!
Don't ask to be discharged!
Don't give up!
Rather, pray for the strength to stay at your post and fulfill your duty,
and God will bless you in due season if we stay faithful to our calling.
Someone has penned these lines that ought to express the desire of every hurting, discouraged, pastor:
"Give me a love that leads the way,
A faith that nothing can destroy,
A hope no disappointment tire,
A passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to to be a clod;
Make me Thy tool, O, flame of God."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White