When marriage, family, or a friendship gets difficult or messy, it’s tempting to think about giving up on the person you’re struggling with. Sometimes we get frustrated when it seems like nothing is going to change, and throwing in the towel seems like the best solution to the problem. It could be the easiest solution and might be the shortest distance to relief. But, it’s not always the direction God wants us to take.
There are circumstances where breaking off a relationship is a necessary and healthy choice, but that’s another topic. God’s instructs us to love one another, to respond to one another in love, and to not give up on one another so quickly. God has countless reasons to give up on us — but He doesn’t. We all battle with sin in our life, and that includes us and the person we’re struggling with in our relationship.
Jesus gave His life for us even though we’ve sinned against Him and are still susceptible to sin against Him. Jesus’ motivation to take our place on the cross was His deep, unconditional love for us. He made the first move towards us while we were sinners. Likewise, we are also called to make the first move towards those who sin against us and love them too.
Think about all the ways God doesn’t throw in the towel and give up on us:
- When our heart, mind, and behaviors change slowly or not at all, God doesn’t get frustrated with us. He is patient with us. “Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
- When we keep the records of wrongs against us, God doesn’t keep the records of our wrongs. When we repent He forgives our sins and remembers them no more… He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12
- When we are unkind, God is kind towards us- when we don’t deserve it. It’s called mercy.
- When we speak words of death over another, God speaks life to us through His Word.
- When we are quick to get angry at someone, God is slow to anger in His dealings with us. “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Psalm 103:8
- When we are unloving, God still loves us.
I have been tempted to throw in the towel when family members, my husband or other significant relationships have caused me pain. At the time, I failed to see my own sin and how God had not given up on me when He could have or should have. This is something we need to remember over and over in our relationships.
In significant relationships, someone has to take the lead and take the first step to be Christ-like and practice 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. We must deal with our fallenness first before we can help and encourage others to deal with theirs.
Let the Gospel be your guide. Ask God to heal your hurt, and put love in your heart first and foremost — for the person you’re struggling with. Ask God to help you see others the way He sees them. Spend more time encouraging and less time critiquing.
Before you throw in the towel on your relationship, remember God hasn’t thrown in the towel on you.