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Quitting Isn’t Always Bad

I saw a slogan on a man’s T-shirt yesterday that bothered me. It said, “Rehab is for quitters.” Maybe if the man didn’t make his living selling alcoholic beverages, his shirt wouldn’t have screamed so loudly. But he does, and it did. Maybe if I didn’t spend part of my time ministering to people whose lives are being destroyed by alcohol, I could have appreciated the humor. But I do, and I didn’t.

Oh, I understand our society’s disdain for “quitters.” People who start out to do something and then drop out leave lots of unhappiness in their wakes. The person who promises to help with a hard afternoon’s woodcutting then goes home at 1:30 is a quitter who probably won’t get asked for the next project. The person who promises to take on a job at church and then stops will be remembered for leaving everybody in the lurch. The person who accepts responsibility in the business world, then devotes the time to personal interests will probably be quitting at his employer’s request. People who start out to do something noble and then give up disappoint us all. Quitters sometimes cause more pain than they feel.

Our attitude toward quitters is influenced by our own memories of times when we really wanted to give up. At such times, a friend’s, “Don’t be a quitter,” may have been all it took to keep us going until our efforts paid off. We all need to resist the temptation to quit when life gets hard or boring, and that recognition of personal weakness is part of why we frown at those who do give up.

We despise quitters when someone gets hurt by their lack of faithfulness, but sometimes quitting is in everybody’s best interest. We are happy for the person who quits smoking. Most of us rejoice with the alcoholic who finds the strength to quit drinking. We also recognize the wisdom of the business owner who realizes his dream just isn’t going to succeed and makes the hard decision to close shop before the debt load becomes unmanageable. We appreciate the grouch who quits yelling, the spouse who stops abusing, and the kid with the trumpet who quits before bedtime. There are times when quitting is good.

In the Bible, good quitting is called repentance. Repentance does involve more than simply quitting. At its core is a change of heart or mind. The person that sees the wrong in himself or herself and says, “By God’s grace, that isn’t me any more,” has repented. Such determination doesn’t make quitting easy, but God’s grace does make it doable. Repentance, quitting one’s wrongness, leads to forgiveness and God’s transforming power. True, we depend on grace given in response to simple faith to bring this saving change into our lives. But mixed in with redeeming grace--hiding behind it, pulling us toward it, and finding its strength within it--is repentance.

The tavern owner’s attitude was offensive because he is making a comfortable living from people’s weaknesses. On the other hand, the loving God calls us all to quit those things that would destroy us because He wants to give us life.

Down inside, most of us know when becoming a quitter is shameful and when it is honorable. The challenge is exercising the faith to follow through in spite of the pain that goes with our choice. Is your life ensnared by some attitude or action that is stifling your soul? Then quit it whatever it is. Sometimes quitting really is OK!

To learn how to experience God's redeeming grace, click here: How to Have a Relationship with God.

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How to Have a Relationship with God

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