What do you think of when you hear “Give up?”
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Do you think that it means to quit trying to do something, like in a prizefight when one contender throws in the towel and by doing so shows that he gives up?
Or do you think of ceding land, as in a war, when one side gives up land to the other?
Or maybe it is when you tell a secret to someone else, and give up the information?
In some cases, giving up shows cowardice; in some cases, giving up shows compromise; in some cases, giving up shows the strength of will and dedication to something greater than yourself.
From a spiritual viewpoint, it could mean to surrender our life, meaning the way we live now, and allow another life to take over, one led by the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. This is the type of giving up I want to talk about today.
Too often I see people who are fighting with each other, verbally, about things of the Bible. The pronunciation of God’s name, the importance of speaking it, the idea of the Trinity, and even arguments about which tribe they are from or what will really happen during the Tribulation.
These topics are really hot buttons, as we say, and it is not much different than when we are in a social group and everyone knows better than to get into a political discussion (especially today) because the emotions are so strained and people are so passionate they end up not discussing as adults but arguing and throwing insults like little children on the school playground.
Frankly, I am surprised I haven’t seen someone react with “Oh Yeah? Well, my Daddy can beat up your Daddy, so there!”
The strength I am talking about is the strength that comes from humility, which allows us to overcome our own prideful need to have people tell us we are right or to know that we were able to change their way of thinking to what we think.
The Prophets of old were instructed by God -actually, they were warned- to tell the people what God wants from them and that they need to do what God says. If the Prophet refused, then the bloodguilt of the people would also be on the head of the prophet; in other words, God would consider the prophet to be as guilty as the people. If, however, the prophet told the people what God instructed him to say, then even if the people failed to listen or change their ways, their bloodguilt would be on them, alone, and the prophet would not be held guilty of their sins.
I would like to point out that as often as we read about the Prophets in the Tanakh being ignored, persecuted and even killed, there is not one reference I can recall where the prophet was insulting or judgmental.
When we discuss topics that are God-related, or what we consider biblical truths (which, if you are willing to admit it, are always going to be what you think is the truth) and the discussion begins to turn heated, do you have the strength to give up? Are you able to say, “I see we are at an impasse, so we will have to agree to disagree” and then move on? If not, I would ask you to please think about why you can’t give up. Many people use what I consider to be the lame excuse that they are only telling the truth, which (apparently) in their mind gives them the right to be insulting, judgmental, and to badger people with Bible references until the other person blocks them. Then they brag about being blocked.
I don’t know about you, but I would never brag about being blocked because what I am bragging about, in reality, is that I was so stubborn and prideful that I purposefully rejected someone who I could have brought to a better understanding of God. If I am willing to give up this battle, I may be able to win them over in another battle. And, if I can maintain the communication, then maybe if I AM right about the topic I previously gave up on, I may get another chance to help that person see the light.
Now, there are cases when we should block people, or when we should not just stop trying, but ignore them, altogether. Shaul’s letters to Timothy and Titus advise them to stay away from useless arguments and discussions about irrelevant topics. This is something that we should do in discussion groups, as well. People who insist on arguing for the sake of arguing need to be avoided because they are doing the Devil’s work and we shouldn’t encourage that by participating. Also, those who are nasty, judgmental and insulting need to be avoided because they are slaves to their own egos and don’t really care about whether or not you are helped because they only want to hear themselves talk and have people confirm how wonderful and spiritually mature they are.
A meaningful and mature discussion is like walking in a field of flowers, where the more you walk, the more lovely scents you encounter. However, an argument that is a battle of egos is like walking in a field of sheep: no matter where you step you will end up stepping in something that smells terrible and you will wear that smell on you when you leave the field.
We must try to bring people to an understanding of God, an understanding and appreciation of the Messiah and what he did for us, and ultimately to the goal of salvation through Messiah. It is also important to teach the instructions God gave us for worship and treating each other so that we can persevere through tough times. These are important topics because they are eternal topics, and our very salvation is based on these things. Anything else might be edifying, it might educate us, it might even help someone to come to faith, but if it leads to argumentation and division, it is not being used in a godly way.
If you find yourself in an ongoing discussion that is going nowhere, and it is because (now, be honest) you are still trying to change someone’s mind, then you need to give up. Give up your pride, give up your stubbornness, and give up throwing pearls before swine. Yeshua told his Talmudim (students/disciples) that when they entered a town that refused to listen to them, to leave it and shake the dust off their sandals as a warning to that town. When you are in this same situation in a Facebook or internet discussion, other than sending some sandal-shaking emoji to someone just tell them, respectfully, that you will have to agree to disagree. I often use this phrase, “I appreciate your side of this, but we seem to be at an impasse so let God be the judge between us.” Honestly, if someone is going to argue that God should not be the judge, then don’t shake your sandal at them- slap them upside their head with it! (I’m kidding)
Here’s today’s lesson in a nutshell: when you realize the discussion has mutated into an argument, it’s time to flex your spiritual muscles and show that you have the strength to give up.
Thank you for being here and please subscribe if you like what you hear, and share these messages with others. I also welcome your comments, confirmations, and even your disagreements.
My hope is to give people the right information so they can make the right decisions: I never tell anyone what they should think or believe, my ministry is a teaching ministry. I want you to know that whatever you choose to do, you will be held accountable for it, so make sure you are choosing what you want to and not just what someone else told you to choose.
Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!