If we quit, all we do is prove those who said we couldn’t do it were right.
If we try something, we may or may not succeed.
But if we quit, failure is guaranteed.
Some may not like what I just said – for lot’s of different reasons.
Maybe you don’t believe in God. Sorry – I’m not going to address that issue here. There’s plenty of other articles you can check out though.
Maybe you don’t believe in the devil. Same answer.
Maybe you’re a Christian and remember verses like this one –
Jn 14:14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Yet again – sorry, although for a different reason.
Thinking that verse literally means anything comes from – among various possibilities –
- memorizing verses – out of context
- reading the English (or other language) verses in the context of today’s world, without understanding what was meant at the time it was said / written
- listening to a message that has nothing to do with what Jesus actually taught.
Does “anything” really mean “any thing”?
If we look at the original Greek word from one source, it appears to be true that “anything” means “any thing” –
92.12 τιςa, τι: a reference to someone or something indefinite, spoken or written about—‘someone, something, anyone, a, anything.’ ἐάν τις ὑμῖν εἴπῃ τι ‘if anyone says anything to you’ Mt 21:3; καὶ ἤλπιζέν τι σημεῖον ἰδεῖν ‘and he hoped to see a sign’ Lk 23:8.
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 813). New York: United Bible Societies.
However – when we check a second source, we see something that looks different –
5100 τὶς [tis /tis/] pron. An enclitic indefinite pronoun; GK 5516; 450 occurrences; AV translates as “certain” 104 times, “some” 73 times, “any man” 55 times, “any” 38 times, “one” 34 times, “man” 34 times, “anything” 24 times, “a” nine times, “certain man” seven times, “something” six times, “somewhat” six times, “ought” five times, “some man” four times, “certain thing” twice, “nothing + 3756” twice, “divers” twice, “he” twice, “thing” twice, “another” twice, not translated 17 times, and translated miscellaneously 22 times. 1 a certain, a certain one. 2 some, some time, a while.
Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
Huh. Not so much any thing – as possibly some things.
Truth is, that shouldn’t be so surprising. When we include some context with this verse, we see something pointing in that direction – pointing to not only “some” things, but “certain” things. So we’re not talking random things. Or God capriciously saying yes sometimes and no other times.
Rather, we’re talking about certain things. Things for which God has a reason why the answer is yes or no. And as we’ll see, the answer may even be time and person dependent.
Let’s start by adding just one verse –
Jn 14:13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Now, there’s a condition attached to receiving “any” thing we ask for. The result of the request that will be granted is that it brings glory to the Father – through Jesus.
Oops. So much for that “any” thing you ask for.
So much for a whole bunch of things that people and even entire sects of religions teach us about what this verse means.
So much for the stuff about ask God and you will receive it – no matter what “it” is.
So much for the stuff about not having enough faith – and that’s why we don’t receive.
Don’t you know Me…?
Now – if we go back and look at the entire paragraph to get even more context – we complete this picture of “certain” things.
Jn 14:9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Again – “Don’t you know me”?
That question is really at the heart of the matter.
Do we really know Jesus?
To get an idea what “know” actually means, check this out –
1097 γινώσκω [ginosko /ghin·oce·ko/] v. A prolonged form of a primary verb; TDNT 1:689; TDNTA 119; GK 1182; 223 occurrences; AV translates as “know” 196 times, “perceive” nine times, “understand” eight times, and translated miscellaneously 10 times. 1 to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of perceive, feel. 1A to become known. 2 to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of. 2A to understand. 2B to know. 3 Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. 4 to become acquainted with, to know. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
That’s not just being acquainted with Jesus – not just hearing some stuff about Jesus. That’s having knowledge of Jesus and being able to understand Jesus.
The Bible sometimes uses the imagery of sex between a man and a woman to illustrate the relationship between us and God. It’s not because of literal sex with God – but to show the depth of the relationship. Of course, for those who consider sex “cheap” / “free” / something that’s OK to do with anyone – then this analogy is lost. However – if we go back to the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve becoming “one” (before the fall) – that’s the kind of relationship we’re talking about. Just look at what Jesus says about He and the Father in these verses.
Isn’t that kind of self-serving for God?
Yeah – I’ve heard that.
Sometimes it’s easy for me to think that way too.
But – there’s a problem with that line of thinking.
Jesus came to earth to die for our sins. If His only interest was in bringing glory to the Father – why would He do that? If Jesus didn’t have some interest in us – why would He ever go through what He did? There’s got to be something in there “for us”.
And there is.
Let’s look at what Jesus said about The Shepherd and His Flock
The Shepherd and His Flock
Jn 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Jn 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
Jn 10:14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
If we quit … what does that really mean?
Seriously, I really am asking what does “if we quit” really mean. Specifically, what does “quit” mean?
If you look for the word quit in the NIV translation of the Bible, you won’t find it. However, it is in the New Living Translation:
Ecc 10:4 If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit!
A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes. Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ec 10:4). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Since the New Living Translation focuses more on readability today, as opposed to staying true to the original meanings, let’s go to the NIV, which tries to do both.
Ecc 10:4 If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
do not leave your post;
calmness can lay great errors to rest.
Since this was written by Solomon, the ruler would generally have been the king. Most of us don’t have a king. So the meaning in the NLT does appear to hold for us today. Most of us, while not having a king, do have a boss. And bosses do get angry. And calmness can help.
But what we’re interested in today is the action of quitting. The passage in Ecclesiastes was directed to someone who was given a task – like to stand guard. And so the admonition was to not leave the post assigned to them. Today, that task would be whatever our boss told us to do.
Let’s see if that reasoning is supported.
This one verse is in the middle of a series of verses about fools and foolish things that happen:
Ecc 10:3 Even as he walks along the road,
the fool lacks sense
and shows everyone how stupid he is.
Ecc 10:4 If a ruler’s anger rises against you,
do not leave your post;
calmness can lay great errors to rest.
Ecc 10:5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
the sort of error that arises from a ruler:
Ecc 10:6 Fools are put in many high positions,
while the rich occupy the low ones.
Ecc 10:7 I have seen slaves on horseback,
while princes go on foot like slaves.
Here’s an excerpt from Opening up Ecclesiastes that may take two or three readings to get what is being said:
Here are five pictures that illustrate the Preacher’s point. The fool must learn to be mindful of the dangers awaiting him if he does not take care—only ‘wisdom brings success’. His own actions may prove to be his undoing (v. 8a). His foolishness may unleash all kinds of hidden dangers (v. 8b). He may be destroyed by the products of his own labour (v. 9)—Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had built for Mordecai (Esth. 7), and Frankenstein’s monster destroyed its creator. The fool will rush headlong into a task before making adequate preparation—burning himself out in the process (v. 10). How many of us have plunged wholeheartedly into Christ’s service, exhausting ourselves in his service, without first sharpening our axes in his presence (Isa. 40:29–31)? Winter, J. (2005). Opening up Ecclesiastes (p. 132). Leominster: Day One Publications.
At first glance, it all seems good. Right up to the point where the author asks that question about people plunging into Christ’s service:
How many of us have plunged wholeheartedly into Christ’s service, exhausting ourselves in his service, without first sharpening our axes in his presence (Isa. 40:29–31)?
Huh? Where did that come from? What’s that got to do with our bosses who ask us to maybe do some foolish things?
Let’s look at the passage from Isaiah (plus one more verse before that) to see if it sheds some light on this issue.
Isa 40:28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
Isa 40:29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Isa 40:30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
Isa 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Does that help? Or is it still as clear as mud?
How did we get from staying calm when our boss asks us to do something foolish – hopefully so that we can change the boss’s mind – to talking about serving Jesus?
Well, truth be told, I might have led you slightly astray. Just checking to see how carefully you pay attention – and if you caught what I did. Or, maybe did.
Here’s the catch. The thing is, I said that the part about having a king doesn’t hold true for some of us. For Christians – we actually do have a king. Actually, not a “king” – but a “King”. Jesus. And then another twist comes in. While our bosses may ask us to do foolish things, Jesus will not.
Nothing Jesus asks us to do will be foolish. Or dangerous, as it relates to our immortal souls. Add to that the passage from Isaiah, where we see that God will give us hope and strength. And so, what we see is that when we are in service for Jesus, there is no reason to abandon our post. No reason not to fulfill our task. And there is no reason to quit. Really, there’s not even a reason to wonder, what if we quit?
There is good reason to be prepared. Good reason to know what we’re getting into. And good reason to always know that Jesus is with us. And to ask for His help. Not to mention having a Christian community to pray for us and help us when we need it. But once we are properly prepared, there truly is no reason to quit.
If we quit, as Christians in service of Jesus, it shouldn’t be because Jesus failed us. It might be because we failed to “count the cost” – to really do our homework before starting out. But it shouldn’t be due to anything Jesus did – or didn’t do.
So then – If we quit …
Remember the pictures at the top – the devil and the angel?
Remember the choices from the very beginning – quit or try?
The thief / the devil / those who are listening to the devil – will tell us we should quit, because we can’t do “it”. Whatever it is. And they make us think that “it” is a must have. Whatever it is. Even if it isn’t even something we ever wanted before. And for sure – need doesn’t come into question. “It” is the most important thing. And God won’t give it to us.
Jesus / those who are listening to and understand Jesus – will tell us that if “it” will bring glory to the Father – then we can do “it”, if we act together with Jesus and ask for His help.
There is another group of people – those who will tell us that we can do whatever we want – because we just ask Jesus and He’ll give “it” to us. But that cannot be true! For example – since this is NFL playoff time – what about those players who pray to God for a Super Bowl win? They say God is with them. I have to ask though – how can all those guys get the Super Bowl win they prayed for? Answer – they can’t!
The truth is – glory can be brought to God even with a loss!
Don’t believe it?
Look at this, from CNS News (it’s been a few years now, but it’s still just as relevant as if it was yesterday) –
“Jesus is better than the Super Bowl,” says Seahawks Defensive Passing Game Coordinator Rocky Seto, and some Seahawks players are clearly in agreement.
Before their playoff run a group of Seattle Seahawks players sat down with the pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle for a videotaped discussion called, “Who is Jesus?”
“It’s no question he gave us everything,” Seto says during the group interview.
“Literally, one plus one equals two, it’s just that simple. Jesus is better than anything we could ever hope for, even better than the Super Bowl, better than an NFL career.”
Seen nodding their heads in agreement with Seto’s comments are Seahawks’ Quarterback Russell Wilson, Offensive Tackle Russell Okung, Safety Chris Maragos and Long Snapper Clint Gresham.
Seto continued, “I think some us here – all of us here would like to say – you know, who knows what’s going to happen. But if we were ever to win the Super Bowl, to be able to tell everyone that, ‘No, Jesus is still better’”.
“Because as much as we worship this thing called a ring and championship, although we would like to have one for sure, I just can’t wait to tell people if that happens God willing, we will be able to tell people Jesus is way better still.”
“Jesus is love,” says Wilson in the interview, “At the end of the day we are all looking for somebody to comfort us, somebody to be there for us at all times.”
This interview took place before Seattle did, in fact, win the Super Bowl. And, to be sure, these guys actually said Jesus was better than winning the Super Bowl – after the win.
So – even the Super Bowl is something that can bring Glory to God.
Not when one prays to win it – but when one prays to play to the best of their ability. When one thanks God for that ability. When one acknowledges that – win or lose – Jesus is still better and more important than the Super Bowl.
And why is that?
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
And life to the full is eternal life with Jesus.
Conclusion – If we quit
It doesn’t matter what your religion – our your denomination of some religion – tells you about –
what you can ask for /
what God wants for you /
what God will give you /
whether you win or lose.
What matter’s is what God Himself says.
And there it is.
Know Jesus. Realize that things we do to bring glory to God through Jesus will also result in the fullest possible (eternal) life for us. Live our lives according to those simple principles. Act accordingly. Do things in line with that.
- Quit and you lose.
Quit and Satan wins.
- work with Jesus to accomplish the things He has for us to do – and you win.
Continue with Jesus – and glory goes to the Father.
One final note – for those who look at this and think I’m saying “works” get us to Heaven –
that God will love us because of what we do for Him – as opposed to God loves us first no matter what we have done –
Sorry – No. That’s not what I’m saying at all.
I’m saying that belief in Jesus will allow us to reach the point where we want to do the things He has for us –
not the other way around.
I’m saying that once we believe and are already saved –
only then can we even be at a point where we honestly consider and do His will.
Do you really know Jesus?
Or are you just familiar with what has been said about Him – by people who may or may not know Him?
It’s easy enough to know Jesus.
Just tell Jesus you want to know Him.
Read His Word.
Listen for Him.
Learn from Him.
Know His voice.
And get ready for life to the fullest. Forever.
|↑1||Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 813). New York: United Bible Societies.|
|↑2, ↑3||Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.|
|↑4||Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ec 10:4). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.|
|↑5||Winter, J. (2005). Opening up Ecclesiastes (p. 132). Leominster: Day One Publications.|