The Olympics inevitably showcase a number of athletes with truly remarkable stories. You could even argue that the stories themselves are more compelling than some of the events. Think of the gymnast, hurdler, or weightlifter who dedicated his or her last four years for this one moment. Think of the sacrifice this takes on their part. Though their stories differ in many ways, they each have one thing in common: the athlete refuses to give up.
I know – the slogan “don’t give up” is cliché. We hear it every day, and tend to minimize a situation with these words. But our God is a god who does not give up. Micah was an Old Testament prophet who warned the Northern Kingdom of Israel about their impending doom, courtesy of the Assyrians. After describing their misery and destruction, Micah ends his words with a proclamation of restoration and salvation:
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19).
God will not give up on you. Do you give up on your son or daughter when they make a mistake? Or repeatedly make mistakes? When I find myself in a rut, and struggle to properly wear the “clothes of Christ” (as Paul would say), I remind myself that God will not toss me aside like yesterday’s trash. I’m not perfect. Neither are you. And God knows this. Sometimes we miss the mark quite badly. That’s okay – God knows this too.
God did not give up on Israel. Nor did he give up on Abraham or Moses. Joseph’s own brothers wanted nothing to do with him, yet God used him to further His cause. And what about Peter? He denied Christ three times, but became a pillar of the church.
As we will discuss during today’s lesson, a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown. Perhaps you feel that way right now. Perhaps you are struggling to say or do the next right thing at home, work, or in your neighborhood. Perhaps you are starting to question God’s plans for your life. If this is the case, please know that this does not make you unique. While you secretly (or overtly) criticize yourself at every turn, God continues to chisel out His masterpiece. And that masterpiece is you. We know this because we worship a God who is not finished with us. I’ll give Paul the final word:
…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).
In His Name,