The opposite of giving up is perseverance or endurance—two qualities encouraged for believers (2 Thessalonians 1:4; Romans 5:3; James 1:3). When we persevere through difficulties or weariness, we refuse to give up on what God has called us to do. Galatians 6:9 encourages us to never give up: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Several factors can cause people to consider giving up. The first is discouragement. We may begin an endeavor gripped with passion to see it through, but after a while, when we don’t receive the results we expected or when people don’t appreciate our efforts, we can become discouraged. The Bible instructs fathers not to be harsh with their children, lest the children become discouraged. Discouraged children often give up trying to please their parents and act out. Discouraged, disillusioned adults often give up or act out as well. God’s solution for discouragement is that the church “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Another factor that leads to people giving up is pride. We may take on a challenge, confident of our own abilities and eager to impress people we care about. God has warned us that “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). When we crash, our pride is wounded, and we often give up altogether, rather than get up and try again. This happens to some in ministry. They start in the ministry for the right reasons, but somewhere along the line pride takes over. When they are embarrassed, confronted, or challenged, pride insists on giving up, and they walk away.
Exhaustion can also lead to giving up. If we don’t pace ourselves and set healthy boundaries, we may become so mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally exhausted that we simply quit. Those in helping ministries are most susceptible to giving up due to exhaustion. Needy people are everywhere, and helpers who try to be all things to all people all the time are subject to burnout. It helps to remember that we cannot give to others what we don’t possess, so taking care of ourselves is not selfish. Caregivers for young children, the elderly, or the terminally ill must remember to carve out time to keep themselves healthy. Those in ministry must keep themselves immersed in a personal relationship with God, or they will lack the spiritual strength to continue pouring into others. Jesus gives us a perfect example of someone who continually ministered to others, while still prioritizing His relationship with the Father. Jesus often slipped away “while it was still dark” to spend time in prayer (Mark 1:35; Matthew 14:23; Luke 5:16).
Scripture exhorts us that, when we are on the path God has ordained for us, we are not to give up (Philippians 4:1; Galatians 5:1; Revelation 3:10). Nehemiah never gave up the construction of Jerusalem’s walls, despite the fierce opposition he faced. Caleb never gave up on the promise of God, and he conquered a giant-infested, fortified hill country when he was 85 years old. Jesus persevered all the way to the cross. “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3). When we give up too soon, we lose out on all God planned to do through and for us.
Sometimes giving up is an indication that people were never true followers of Christ. That’s what the Bible calls apostasy (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 2:19). Those who have truly been born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:3) will never give Jesus up. They are kept in the Lord’s hand (John 10:28–29), and they will persevere to the end.