“It’s ok to fail, but it’s not ok to quit because God doesn’t quit on us”‘
This tag line is an adaption of a recent speech by Arnold Schwarzenegger gone viral where he exhorts his audience to have a goal in their lives and accept failure as part of the process. He mentions that Michael Jordan (arguably the GOAT when it comes to basketball) missed 9000 shots in his life. While it’s ok to fail, it’s not ok to quit. When we fall we get up and keep going. The body builder-turned actor-turned policitian-turned motivational speaker also mentions Muhammad Ali who famously said, “I don’t start counting [reps] until it hurts.” While these are noble qualities and make for great new year resolutions, the larger reality for the Christian life is that God ultimately doesn’t quit on us. We may fail (see Nehemiah 9:1-37-; see the lists in Colossians 3:5-9) but God doesn’t quit on us: in our faithlessness he remains faithful as Paul tells Timothy (2 Timothy 2:13).
One aspect of not quitting in Colossians 3 is “bearing with one another” (Colossians 3:13). In the long history of God’s people in the Old Testament, it’s fair to say God exhibited tremendous patience and kindness toward His wayward people (our spiritual forefathers in the faith; see Galatians 3:7). God put up with a lot (read Nehemiah 9). For every act of kindness, salvation, deliverance, provision and protection (God’s attributes and character in our lives), the people’s response was one of discontented grumbling, rebellion and ingratitude (Nehemiah 9:16-17)
16 “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.[c] But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.NEHEMIAH 9:16-17
God’s character is to be forgiving and kind toward His wayward children. It is therefore no surprise that God calls us to emulate and display His character to one another. Paul says we should get rid of the characteristics of those who have quit on God and take on the traits of His character (Colossians 3:12-13)
“12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
As God has forgiven our sins in Christ, we too extend forgiveness to others. This is how we display our determination not to quit. Failures are sure to come our way this year (as Solomon prays in 2 Chronicles 6:36, “there is no one who does not sin”). The key will be not to quit, to put on God’s character as be ready to forgive one another, just as God is willing and ready to forgive us.