“Think about why you started.”

I saw this quote today attributed to that ubiquitous and prolific author, “Unknown”. It’s not bad advice if you’re thinking about quitting. 

  • Thinking about quitting your diet? Why did you begin?
  • Thinking about quitting your exercise regimen? Why did you start?
  • Thinking about quitting your job? What motivated you in the first place?
  • Thinking about quitting a relationship? Church? A significant life goal? Why did you ever start?

That’s not to say that we should never quit anything. Some diets probably aren’t that effective. Some exercise regimens might hurt more than they help. Some jobs were never meant to be permanent. But especially with significant things in life, the question should at least be asked.

I would also suggest it’s good motivation for Christians. To me, it nicely encapsulates the message of the book of Hebrews. The book was apparently written to Jewish Christians who were struggling with their faith in Christ. They had been Christians long enough to know the fundamentals (Hebrews 5.11-14). They already had demonstrated good works and commitment (6.9-12), and had already been through some stout persecution (10.32-39). 

As they looked back at the familiar and comfortable ways of Judaism, the writer also urges them to look back as well. First he simply reminds them of the greatness of Christ. By giving up on their allegiance to Jesus, they were giving up something that could not be replaced. Jesus was God’s last word to mankind (1.1ff). He was greater than the angels themselves (chapter 1), greater than Moses (chapter 3), Joshua (chapter 4), and Aaron (chapter 5). His ministry, tabernacle, priesthood, sacrifices, and covenant were without rival (chapters 7-10). As they looked back to Jesus and to his greatness, it should evoke powerful memories of why they followed him in the first place.

Then, near the end of the book, he also asks them to look back upon their experiences. At 10.32ff, he asks them to “remember the former days”. He doesn’t ask them to think only of the good times, but in a move that would shock any self-respecting life coach, he asks them to remember their suffering. It was in that suffering, and in their response to it, that the depth of their commitment could be clearly seen. In that suffering they experienced joy and hope (10.34). 

At 13.3, he tells them to remember their fellow prisoners. Those with whom they had suffered; those who were still suffering. It’s hard to turn your back on people you love. It’s hard to ignore those with whom you have the most in common.

Finally, at 13.7, he says to remember their leaders, those who taught them the gospel. Most of us came to Christ through the influence of someone significant. We should never forget them. 

Whenever you’re struggling in your faith, look backward and ask, “Why did I start?” It should help cure you of the desire to stop.

For today, look backward.