Most people regard a quitter is one of the most despicable characters on earth. We admire a person who, against all odds, keeps on struggling till the contest is ended; who keeps on running till he finishes the race, even if he has no chance of winning. We applaud the man who crawls across the finish line dead last – but finishes the race! The book of Hebrews is filled with admonitions to discouraged Christians, but in Hebrews 10, the writer particularly focuses on the needs of despondent and weary disciples. The Hebrew writer develops three central thoughts that are designed to stir the brethren up to renewed efforts.
1) “Call to remembrance the former days….” (Hebrews 10:32) – As the readers would reflect upon the former days, they would remember their endurance in a great struggle of suffering when they were openly exposed to public ridicule and scorn. This may well have been in an open arena with jeering crowds watching. Their courage and stand for right would not yield, nor would they hang their heads in shame because of their faith. They would remember that they shared in the affliction of others when they stood by them. What is more, they had even accepted the seizure of their property joyfully, because they were aware, at that time, of the enduring reward they had in heaven as compared to the transitory value of material things (cf. Matthew 6:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:17,19). Remembering the strength they had in times past would instill their strength anew.
2) “Cast not away therefore your confidence….” (Hebrews 10:35) – This thought is best illustrated by the soldier who, in the heat of battle, throws away his shield in fear and flees. They needed to be reminded that their trust has a great recompense. However, the only way they will receive that reward is by enduring (cf. Matthew 10:22; Revelation 2:10). The hope for relief is in sight, for the Lord will not tarry in His coming in judgment against the oppressive powers (Hebrews 10:37; cf. Habakkuk 2).
3) “Don’t draw back….” (Hebrews 10:38) – The just will survive by his faithfulness but God has no pleasure in quitters. The picture here is of one who stealthily sneaks back away from the conflict, hoping that his withdrawal will be inconspicuous. While Jesus offers the Christian peace in the midst of an anxious world (John 14:27), He does not offer freedom from conflict and adversity with the world (John 15:18-20; cf. 2 Timothy 3:12). Let us remember that only the coward shrinks from the heat of the battle.
Brethren, don’t ever quit! Don’t ever give up! If you quit, you lose it all (Matthew 16:25). In the final analysis, it matters not how much we loath a quitter – God loathes a quitter even more, “… but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38b). With knees bloody and body spent, crawl if you have to, but finish the course! (2 Timothy 4:7; cf. Philippians 3:14).