"Never Give In"

     One of my favorite men from the last century is Winston Churchill. He was a man of the past in many ways but also an essential man for his time. He loved the idea of the British Empire but had to see it dissolve. He was a conservative politically in a time when socialism was showing great strength in the world. But he was most of all a man who stood for what was right and good in the face of the tremendous power of evil. Many historians argue that without Churchill Great Britain would have fallen to Nazi Germany. Had that happened the entire planet would be so different now as to be unrecognizable. Churchill was an essential man.

     One of my favorite things that he said, and he said many memorable things, was “Never give in.” The line is from a speech he made to a boys school in 1941, a time of tremendous challenge for people living in England. Here is a portion of the text (From the Churchill Centre website): “Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to conviction of honor and good sense. Never yield to force, never yield to the overwhelming might of the enemy.” And thank the Lord, the British did not give in and the Allies defeated the Nazis.

     The enemies we face in this physical life change as time moves along. In our spiritual life the enemy is always the same, the devil and his effective tools, the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). We have to fight these manifestations of evil all the time. To use Churchill’s words, we must never give in.

     This is not news to the child of God. We remember the Lord’s admonition to the faithful but besieged church at Smyrna: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). We all know the last few words of this passage. Remembering the context of the passage makes these words all the more powerful.

     There were seven churches addressed by the Lord using the hand of the apostle John. The letter is called “The Revelation.” That word has in it the idea of uncovering and revealing. The people who received this letter, the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea were not mystified by the words of the Lord. Some of these words were more challenging than others perhaps because people had blended in a bit too much with the world around them. The letter, however, had in it the very things they needed to know in order to make it through the time of persecution they faced.

     It is not my purpose here to think about who was doing the persecution. If the letter was written before AD 70 it was the Jewish establishment centered in Jerusalem. If it was written at the close of the first century the persecution was at the hands of the Roman Empire. In either case times were going to be very tough for Christians. Persecution of faithful Christians did not end with the destruction of Jerusalem or the fall of the Roman Empire. Persecution has not ended in all the centuries since. It is present with us today.

     Jesus had John write that some of the Christians at Smyrna would be imprisoned. Though not in our own neighborhoods, this still happens today. It could get that way for us. We should not be surprised if it does. This life is not a bed of roses. It is a test. Rather, it is a series of tests.

     Every day we face situations in which we must apply the principles of faith. Those principles are taught in God’s Word (Romans 10:17). Faithfulness to those principles may result in tribulation (another word for trials) for a while. Our time of trial is limited. Our faithfulness cannot be. We must be faithful until death.

We must not give in. As that old Prime Minister said, we must never give in.