A man was shoveling snow from his driveway when two boys carrying snow shovels approached him. “Shovel your snow, Mister?” one of them asked. “Only two dollars!” Puzzled, the man replied, “Can’t you see that I’m doing it myself?” “Sure,” said the enterprising lad; “that’s why we asked. We get most of our business from people who are half through and feel like quitting!”
Dr. V. Raymond Edman used to say to the students at Wheaton (Illinois) College, “It’s always too soon to quit!” And Charles Spurgeon reminded his London congregation, “By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.”
Corinth, with its 200,000 people, would not be the easiest city in which to start a church, and yet that’s where Paul went after leaving Athens. And he went alone! The going was tough, but the apostle did not give up. Why? Because Paul was driven, guided and nourished by God’s Holy Spirit.
One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: “Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.”
God knows exactly when we need encouragement and strength from Him and He delivers His words with such love and compassion that we cannot help but be lifted up in our thoughts, renewing our mind with fervor, leaning into HIS strength in our weakness. We get back to the work, God’s work, that HE has invited us to be and do in Jesus Name, for HIS glory. God has done it in me and for me time and time again.
“I am weak, but you are strong” was Paul’s testimony written later to this very church. Did Paul, who is so driven and strong, articulate and gifted feel like quitting at times? Apparently so. Paul was an imperfect human who was perfectly forgiven—just like you and I.
Here is the full personal testimony of Paul’s weakness account: Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, NIV
We learn that in those times we are weak and want to quit, God’s power and strength is readily available. Not only that, God is teaching us character in these times. Paul learns and passes on what he learns. He teaches that it is only by God’s strength that we rise above all the difficulties. Taking this teaching to an even higher level, Paul even “boasts” in his weaknesses because at that point, Paul realizes that God takes over and proves where true strength lies. For when I am weak, then I am strong—in the Power of the Lord!
ACTS—God’s Actions through His Disciples
Acts 18:1-17, The Message
Next Stop: Corinth
1-4 After Athens, Paul went to Corinth. That is where he discovered Aquila, a Jew born in Pontus, and his wife, Priscilla. They had just arrived from Italy, part of the general expulsion of Jews from Rome ordered by Claudius. Paul moved in with them, and they worked together at their common trade of tentmaking. But every Sabbath he was at the meeting place, doing his best to convince both Jews and Greeks about Jesus.
5-6 When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was able to give all his time to preaching and teaching, doing everything he could to persuade the Jews that Jesus was in fact God’s Messiah. But no such luck. All they did was argue contentiously and contradict him at every turn. Totally exasperated, Paul had finally had it with them and gave it up as a bad job. “Have it your way, then,” he said. “You’ve made your bed; now lie in it. From now on I’m spending my time with the other nations.”
7-8 He walked out and went to the home of Titius Justus, a God-fearing man who lived right next to the Jews’ meeting place. But Paul’s efforts with the Jews weren’t a total loss, for Crispus, the meeting-place president, put his trust in the Master. His entire family believed with him.
8-11 In the course of listening to Paul, a great many Corinthians believed and were baptized. One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: “Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.” That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and a half, faithfully teaching the Word of God to the Corinthians.
12-13 But when Gallio was governor of Achaia province, the Jews got up a campaign against Paul, hauled him into court, and filed charges: “This man is seducing people into acts of worship that are illegal.”
14-16 Just as Paul was about to defend himself, Gallio interrupted and said to the Jews, “If this was a matter of criminal conduct, I would gladly hear you out. But it sounds to me like one more Jewish squabble, another of your endless hairsplitting quarrels over religion. Take care of it on your own time. I can’t be bothered with this nonsense,” and he cleared them out of the courtroom.
17 Now the street rabble turned on Sosthenes, the new meeting-place president, and beat him up in plain sight of the court. Gallio didn’t raise a finger. He could not have cared less.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
- Don’t quit in the middle of it all.
- Don’t quit until God leads us out.
- Don’t quit when it gets hard.
- Don’t quit while being nourished.
- Don’t quit too soon for there are those who are watching you and believe with you.
- Don’t quit. Move at God’s command.
- All we need is God’s word of command and assurance to stick it out.
It is easy to pick up our toys, stomp off in disgust and leave the play area. But that is as childish as it sounds. Lord, be my strength when I am weak. Lead me every hour of this day and every day. Teach me your ways and I will walk in them. And when it gets harder still, step in with your strength, your plan, your tenacious grace, unconditional love and unending mercy. Fill me with all that and more. And may the peace of you, dear Lord, abide in me. Show me when to stay and when to move on. I want what you want. Always. You are God…and I am not.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen