Craig Groeschel - Don't Give Up
So, do you ever look at people who are really successful in some category of life and wonder how in the world do they do that? Do you ever do that? You look at somebody who's successful in business, or they're really, really healthy and in good shape, or they have a great marriage, or they're incredibly Godly, or they have massive influence, and you wonder, how did they do that? When I was growing up, I used to just think they must have been really, really lucky. They were lucky enough to be born into the right family. They were lucky enough to have some kind of big opportunity. They were lucky enough to have good genetics, or lucky enough to meet the right person, or lucky enough to have some breakthrough idea.
And while there is some luck, and some people have been given more, what I've noticed over time, that in most cases when people are really successful, at least in some area of their life, they're not just lucky, but they're consistent. They're consistent over time. And I tell our team all the time that successful people do consistently what other people do occasionally. Let me say that again. In some area of life, there's consistency, there's persistence, there's patience, because successful people tend to do consistently what other people do occasionally. I've never seen someone that just like accidentally paid off a ton of debt.
You know, someone who's got a bunch of student loan debt, or credit card debt, or big car payments, or whatever, who just said I wasn't even paying attention to my finances, I got no idea how one day I just paid it all off, and I'm just accidentally debt free. It doesn't tend to happen accidentally, but intentionally with consistency over time. The same is true with their marriage. I don't know anybody who says I don't know how in the world, I just got a great marriage, I mean, we've been married for 23 years and we've never had a fight. I mean we're just like kissy kissy kissy all the time. I've never met anyone like that. What I have met is people who say, "We work really hard at our marriage. We intentionally prioritize our relationship. When we get it wrong, which is often, we intentionally repent, we apologize. We work to put Jesus first. We value one another. We work really, really hard at our marriage".
I don't know anybody whoever said, I just accidentally got close to God. I don't know how it happened. I wasn't doing anything. I mean, I was just sinning and sinning wildly, and then one day I just stopped sinning, and all my addictions went away, and I stopped cussing, and started saying praise the Lord all the time. And I have no problems, no way, I'm just close to God. God just speaks to me, I just hear his voice. I didn't do anything. No, what I do know is a lot of people who say, "I've worked really hard to die to myself, and to seek God and to know Him through His Word, and to hear His voice, and to let Him conform me to the image of Christ. And over time as I've pursued Him, He's been changing me, and I'm becoming more like Him".
All of us have good intentions. We all want similar things, but we have very different results. We need to understand that intentions don't determine direction, actions determine direction. In other words, if you just keep on doing whatever you've been doing, you're going to keep on getting whatever you've been getting. Hoping for a different future doesn't bring you a different future. Hope doesn't change your life, habits change your life. And so that's why today as we continue to talk about how we specifically change our life, I just want to say humbly that the life that you want, whatever it is, in your finances, in your friendships, in your ministry, with your children, with business, whatever it is, it's never the result of a few lucky decisions, but it's always a result of countless, consistent, seemingly small decisions, done over time.
I always tell myself it's the small things that no one sees that lead to the big results everyone wants. It's consistency and faithfulness in the small things over time. The problem, and you know this at some level, you feel it, that when you do the small right things, or don't do the small wrong things, a lot of times you don't see very fast results. You're trying, but you don't see a lot of immediate life change. So if you're like me, or a lot of people, you tend to get frustrated, you get discouraged, and you often feel like quitting. And that's why the title of today's message is Don't Give Up. And with that in mind, I would love it at all of our churches or around the world online, would you just join me together in prayer?
Father, we ask that by the power of your Spirit and the truth of your Word, that you would speak to us and empower us to live a consistent life, dying to ourselves, living according to your Spirit, honoring you in the small things, and seeing you, God, trust us with even more because we've been faithful with little. We pray this in Jesus name, and everybody said, amen, amen. Amen.
Type that in the chat, we're glad you're with us. Galatians 6:7, 8, and 9, I want to spend most of our time today in these three power-packed verses that are prophetic in every area of life. And this is what the apostle Paul said in verse seven. I like the serious tone that he has. He says, "Don't be deceived". This word in the Greek, it means don't be led astray. It honestly, it could mean don't be stupid, that's kind of what he's saying. Like, don't, don't be stupid, don't be fooled. And then he says, "God cannot be mocked".
In the Greek language, the word translated as mocked, it means to thumb your nose up, it means to snub. You're not going to do this to God. Don't be deceived. Don't be tricked. Don't be fooled. Don't be stupid. God cannot be mocked. And then he gives us a law, and the law is this. "A man reaps what he sows". Another way of saying it is we will harvest whatever we plant. He says, "A man reaps what he sows, and whoever sows to please their flesh". You remember what the flesh is? It's not our skin, it's our sinful nature. Whoever does what's wrong, and ungodly, and sinful, "from the flesh they reaped destruction". You sow bad things, you get a bad result. But he also says, "Whoever sows to please the Spirit," whoever does what's God-honoring, "from the Spirit will reap eternal life".
Who's thankful for eternal life through the grace of Jesus Christ? Something we don't deserve, something we haven't earned, but something He's given us by His grace. And then the apostle Paul tells us this. He says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we'll reap a harvest if we do not give up". We'll come back to that verse. But what I want to do for a moment is I want to talk about this law, and I want to give you three laws under the big law. This is the, these are the laws of sowing and reaping. And it's important to know these are laws. A law means it's always true. It's a little bit like the law of gravity. If I get too close to the edge of this stage and I fall, which direction am I gonna fall? I'm going to fall down. Every single time I'm going to fall down. Never one time, whoops I fell up, I always would fall down because it's a law.
Now I want to give you the three laws of sowing and reaping. The first law is you reap what you sow. Whatever you plant, you reap that type of harvest. The second law is this that you reap more than you sow. When you put a seed in the ground, you get more fruit out of the seed in the ground. You reap what you sow. You reap more than you sow. And number three, you reap after you sow. Let's say these aloud, all of our churches and online. Number one, you reap what you sow. Number two, you reap more than you sow. And number three, you reap after you sow. Let's unpack each of these important laws one by one and let the Spirit of God drive truth deep within our hearts so the Spirit can change us, not behavior modification, but spiritual transformation.
Number one, we need to understand you reap what you sow. You reap what you sow. Here's a little game. I'm going to ask you a question and you can respond. It's not a trick question. Sometimes I do tricky, this is not a trick question. If you plant corn, what will you reap? You'll reap corn, right? If you plant corn, you don't get pineapple. Every time you put a certain type of seed in the ground, you get a harvest that corresponds with the seed that was planted. We could say this, like Paul said, paraphrasing, but if we plant bad seeds, we get a harvest of destruction. If we plant Godly seeds and Godly habits, over time we tend to have a Godly harvest.
In fact, speaking of the negative of this, if we continue to sin, if we're disrespectful to people, if we're selfish, if we're angry, if we're unforgiving, if we're bitter, if we're harsh, if we're judgmental, if we're, if we hate people, this is going to come back to us in a multiplying factor. In fact, in the Old Testament, Hosea 10:13 says this very clearly. Scripture says, "But you have planted wickedness". In other words, you've done things ungodly, you've sinned. And because of what you've planted, what have you reaped? Not good things, but you've reaped evil. Imagine in any facet of life, any area of your life, when you do the wrong thing, why would you ever expect to reap a good thing from the wrong thing?
Take your job, if you show up late all the time, and you come in with a bad attitude, and you have a half-hearted approach to what you do, why would you ever expect to get promoted? If you don't, if you stay there, it's because in many ways you're most likely reaping what you sowed. If you're always lustful, and selfish, and you're like binging on porn, and you're using people, and then hoping to have a really Godly marriage. If you find yourself in a really rough place one day, why is that? It could be because you're reaping a harvest from the seeds that were sown.
If you eat anything you want, hey like praise the Lord, donuts, Twinkies, and chips, anytime, and you never, ever exercise, you don't take care of your body, and you drink a six pack on Friday to celebrate that it's Friday, and a six pack of beer on Saturday, 'cause it's Saturday, and a six pack on Sunday after church to celebrate the goodness of God on Sunday, would you be surprised to find yourself 30 pounds overweight? Well, this isn't fair, it's a punishment. That's not a punishment, that's a harvest. That's a harvest, you're reaping what you have sown.
And here is probably the most important thing we'll say all day, the big principle. If you don't like what you're reaping, change what you're sowing. If you don't like the harvest, change the seed. If you don't like what you're reaping, change what you're sewing. And I usually give you kind of a divine assignment at the end of the message. I'm going to give it to you right now, and then we'll reinforce it later. I'm going to ask you to look for one different type of seed to plant, just one thing, just one area of your life where you say I want to be consistent in this area. I want to sow seeds of consistent. It might be prayer. It might be time in God's Word. It might be generosity. It might be a Godly attitude. It might be forgiveness. It might be acceptance. It might be that I'm going to start saving money. I'm starting chipping away at the debt.
Pick one area of your life that you want a different harvest. Ask yourself what type of seed you need to plant. Pick one area, and we're going to plant the right types of seeds, and believe that God will bring the right type of harvest. If you don't like what you're reaping, change what you are sowing. It's a law, it's always true. Number one, you reap what you sow. The second thing is you reap more than you sow. What you sow, God multiplies, God multiplies.
In fact, in Mark 4, Jesus told a parable, it was a story about a sower, or like a farmer, who went out to plant some seeds and sow some seeds. And the farmer would cast seeds out of a little basket, a little pouch in his side, and sow some seeds. And some fell on rocky ground, and they didn't do very well. And some fell in the thorns, and they didn't do very well. But the seeds that fell on good soil produced an amazing harvest. Jesus said this, "The seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest," from one seed, "a harvest of 30, 60, or even 100 times as much has been planted".
In other words, you plant one seed, you can grow an entire tree, which then produces more fruit with more seeds to bring about an exponential harvest. And you see this in your life, in your relationships, in your discipline. If you walk into a room full of people and you smile real big, God will often multiply that, and you'll get a bunch of smiles back. If you walk into that same room and you have the spiritual gift of jerkiness, you often get back multiplied, influenced, they'll be jerks back to you, because you reap more than you sow. This is so true in my marriage with Amy. When I love her, and honor her, and cherish her, and serve her, and bless her in the way she deserves, she multiplies it back and gives me more unconditional love than I could ever imagine, she multiplies. But when I give her a hard time, what happens? It comes back.
What we need to understand is that we reap what we sow and we reap more than we sow. In fact, I want to show you a book that is written by Darren Hardy. And this is a book that I take my children through. I take all of my kids through different books at different stages, and this is one of them. And then I've got three son-in-laws. When a boy comes around my house and wants to marry one of my daughters, we go through some books together. And this is one of the books that we go through. And there's one big principle in this that he tends to teach. If I could summarize it's that small, smart choices, just the small things, plus consistency plus time equals a radical difference. It's the compound effect.
When we do the small right things consistently over time, planting the right types of seeds in the right kind of soil, in the right time of the year, God sends the rain, and God produces a harvest to a radical difference. And what I want to do is I want to share with you an illustration from his book. Just so you'll know, I've changed it up a fair bit. So if you don't like it, blame me, don't blame him, but the root illustration comes from him. And it's about three guys, and we're going to assume that they make about the same amount of money, they live in the same neighborhood, and to be honest, they're middle age, they have the same kind of dad bod, there's a little extra Twinkies that they're carrying around in their dad bod.
And I'm going to give them three different names. You got Sammy the Same, Billy Better, and Wally Worse. This, just in case you're wondering, is the part that I'd made up, so don't blame that on Darren, those were my names. And Sammy the Same, you could imagine over time, he essentially does what? He does the same thing. He kind of complains about his life, but he doesn't change much, and he does the same thing, nothing really different, much like many people that we know.
Billy Better, though, came to Life.Church, and he heard this sermon, and he made some ridiculously small, seemingly insignificant changes. He started every day reading his YouVersion Bible app. He's going through a Bible plan with friends, and he's spending five minutes, seven minutes reading Bible and just a little time in prayer, and it's not a big deal, but it's a little deal. He also listens to the Craig Groeschel Leadership podcast, which is a little shameless plug, but he doesn't just listen to the podcast, but he also reads some of the stuff that I recommend, and he starts developing himself as a leader. He cuts 125 calories a day, just 125, like no soda, or a different snack at the end of the day, a healthier snack. He walks three times a week, and that's it. That's all he does different, almost nothing.
First few weeks and couple of months, he sees no real change, almost gives up, but he remembers small, consistent, right disciplines plus time equals a radical difference. He stays in the game. Wally the Worst skipped church the week we did this message. And so unfortunately Wally picked up some small bad habits. He doesn't read the Bible. He believes in God, but he doesn't doesn't do anything, doesn't serve anywhere. Unlike Billy Better, he didn't cut calories, he just added, just a few, just 125 calories, just an extra soda or a bad snack. And because he's kind of discouraged, he likes to disconnect and wasted a lot of time playing video games. The good news is he gets high scores all the time and continues to beat his record, but he plays a lot of video games.
So six months go by, and there's almost no noticeable difference, like none whatsoever. Like Billy Better is doing the right things, and Wally Worse is doing wrong things, and there's almost no difference whatsoever. About 18 months or so, you can start to tell some really small difference, but on month 27, the change for two of them is startling. And I want to show you what this is. The first one, Sammy, think there's any change for him? Nope, just like a lot of your friends, and I could say sadly, just like for some of you, 27 months from now you'll still be worried about the same things you're worried about, battling the same sins you're battling, struggling with the same struggles you're struggling, wishing for the things to be different you're still wishing to be different. Sammy the Same had almost no real change.
Billy the Better though, he consumed 117,500 fewer calories, and check out what happened to this bro, 33 pounds down, he's fit, he's confident, he's got some new clothes, he's looking better, he's feeling better. He walks into the room. You know when Billy's in town, Billy's got some mo going. Wally on the other hand, it's not such good news. Wally consumed 117,500 more calories, and according to the math, he went up 33.5 pounds. Do you think he's confident when he walks in a room? He's not feeling so good right now. If you're not good at math, the difference is 235,000 calories and 67 pound spread between Billy Better and Wally the Worst. And that's just the beginning of their changes in their life. Because how many of you know that some small positive changes often compound into other positive changes, and negative changes often compound into other ones.
Sammy the Same didn't change any at all. But Billy the Better, he lost weight, he gained confidence. His time in God's Word started to strengthen his relationship with God. Hey, he grew better as a leader, his bosses started to notice, they gave him a raise and a promotion. He paid off his debt, and his wife is happy. There's a lot of kissing going on inside of Billy's home. Willie though gained weight, lost confidence, drifted from God. His gaming addiction turned into a gambling addiction. His finances are a wreck and his marriage is hanging by a thread.
Those are obviously made up illustrations, but the truth isn't too far from that home. Because it's not what we do occasionally that makes the difference, it's what we do consistently. If you don't like what you're reaping, change what you're sowing, just one thing. Just one thing, I promise you if you try to change three, you won't change any, just one thing. What is it, one area of your life where you're going to be more consistent? Because believe me when I tell you it's a law. You always reap what you sow. You always reap more than you sow.
And number three, you reap after you sow. You reap in a different season. And that's not easy because you plant in fall, and you don't typically reap in fall. You've got to plant in fall and wait until spring. And that's why we get discouraged, right? Because what do we do? We'll try for a little while. I prayed for five days straight, and I still dropped a bad word on the golf course. I prayed and prayed and prayed, I still don't feel close to God. I went to the gym five times, and I still got quarantine 15 all up into my business, right? I'm trying to pay off my student loan debt, $37,500 away. So all month long, you don't buy any expensive coffee. And lo and behold, you saved $100. And at the end of the month, you don't owe $37,500, you owe $37,400.
And so you wrongly conclude that the small decisions don't matter that much. But you forget. What is our story? Who are we? In so many different ways our entire life is the sum total of all the decisions that we make. In every action, you're choosing a direction. And so let's review from week number one. What do we know? We know that all of us want something different, something better in our lives. The problem is, even though we want similar things, we have very different results. If our identity is wrong, then the cycle is bad. When we think I'm bad, I'm pathetic, I'm nothing, I'll never change, I'm not going to amount to anything, I'm always going to be broke, I'm always going to be stuck in this sin, I can never quit doing this, I can never have a good relationship, I could never have a real ministry, I can never have a real impact. Then we try in our own strength, but eventually our willpower wanes.
So in our inevitable failure, we start to feel the shame which reinforces our negative identity I'm always going to be bad. So what do we do? We recognize if we're in Christ, we're new. The old is gone and He has made everything new. And because we're in Christ, His spirit gives us strength, which helps us to do the right things. We're walking in the Spirit, not gratifying the desires of the flesh. It's not our power, it's His power. Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me. So because we know who we are, then we know what to do. And because we know who we are, we're not trying but we're in training. We're becoming more of who He already created us to be. And by His Spirit, He helps us to choose what we want most over what we want now.
So how do we judge the success of a day? It's the end of the day, did I honor God? Did we do good? Did we make progress? Are we working toward the harvest that honors God? Here's how we judge the success of the day. We don't judge the success of the day by the harvest we reap, but we judge it by the seeds that we sow. Did we honor God today? And you don't become successful when you achieve the goal somewhere in the future, you become successful when you honor God today. Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. It's a law. You reap what you sow. You reap more than you sow. You reap after you sow. And that's why Paul said this. He said, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for in due season, at the proper time, when the time is right, when God's watered it, when He's put His sunlight on it, you will reap a harvest if what," say it with me, "if you do not give up".
If you do not give up. And one day in spring time, in a later season, you'll wake up and you'll realize your hard work, your discipline, your sacrifices, your faithfulness, it was never, ever wasted, it was being stored up. It is being stored up, a little bit like if you take a pot full of room temperature water, and put a little fire on it. And the fire burns consistently over time, the water heats up to 85 degrees, and then 97 degrees, and then 114 degrees, then 139, and then 187, then 201, and then eventually it gets to 211 degrees. And what do you have when you have 211 degree water? You have really hot water, really hot water.
But one day in the harvest season when there's one more degree, it's not hot, but it's boiling. One day you wake up and your marriage is better than you ever thought it could be. One day you wake up and realize there's a 67 pound difference between you and your buddy down the street. One day you wake up and realize we're debt free, and not just giving 10% of our income, but we're giving 12% of our income to make a difference. One day you wake up and you realize I used to feel unworthy to lead a life group. Now I'm leading a life group, serving in Switch, and I'm discipling three people during the week. Boiling, boiling, your business starts succeeding. Your influence starts expanding, and people look on and they'll say, "You were lucky, you were lucky". And you'll know no, no, no, no, you weren't lucky, you were faithful, you were consistent.
And what they won't see, they'll never see it, because it's often the small things that no one sees that lead to the big results that everyone wants. They won't see you overcoming your self doubt, and your insecurities, and confessing your sins, and failing, and standing back up, and trying again. What they won't see you is praying, and fasting, and seeking God, and depending on Him. They won't see the early mornings or the late nights. They won't see you enduring criticism and showing back up with a heart of grace. They'll know nothing about the grind, your perseverance, your private pain, the small, consistent disciplines. They won't see any of that, but you'll know, it's the seeds you planted and it's the harvest God brought.
And that's why I came to tell someone you will reap a harvest of righteousness if you don't give up, don't give up. I don't know who this is for, but don't give up praying. Don't give up believing. Don't quit. Don't stop believing for the salvation of that person that you love. Don't quit giving, don't quit saving, Don't stop trying to climb out of debt. Don't stop fighting to stay pure. Don't stop believing that God will help you overcome that addiction. If you fall short today, there's always tomorrow. You keep seeking God, you keep pressing in to God. You get up early, you stay late. You bring a sacrifice nobody else sees, something they don't know about. You show back up, you do extra reps.
When everybody else gives out, you bring two more reps, two more reps, 20% more than anybody else. And you bring a little bit more. You keep saying yes to what's right, you keep saying no to what's wrong. You keep chipping away at your debt, day after day investing in your marriage. And it's never going to be easy, and it will not be overnight, but you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.
So Father, today we ask that by the power of your Spirit, you would speak to all of us about one area, just one, our diet, the time we rise in the morning, our attitude, our generosity, our stewardship, our debt, our physical exercise, our pursuit of you through prayer, or through the word, just one.
Pick one, and we're going to ask God to help us plant those seeds of righteousness consistently and trust that He'll bring a harvest. All of our churches are online. You've got your one area, just one, and if you don't get it now, get it today. But if you know an area you want to be more consistent before God, would you lift up your hands or you could type it in the chat, I've got my area, got my area.
And Father today I pray that by the power of your Spirit, you'd help us make just one small change that may not seem like anything big in the moment, or in the weeks to come, or even the months to come. But God, we thank you that in the years to come we will reap what we sow, and we'll reap more than we sow, and it may be in a different season than we sow. But God, we want to honor you by what we sow. God, by the power of your Spirit, because we don't have the ability in our own power. We're not trying, we're in training to do what you've called us to do. Help us to honor you, oh God.
As you keep praying today without looking around, I can imagine how some of you feel right now. If I go back in my life and think about hearing a message like this, I would think, yeah I probably deserve a lot of bad harvest because I've done so many things that are wrong. And I want to tell you about one area of life where this law does not apply, and it's the most special area of life. There is an area of life where you actually get something that you don't deserve, and that's by the grace of God, and because of His love and because of who Jesus is, the Son of God who was perfect and died in our place on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins. When you put your faith in Him, even though we deserve destruction for our sinfulness, by the grace of God, we reap a harvest for a seed we did not plant. God sent His Son, one Son who gave His life that there could be a harvest of people made new and forgiven.
Guess what, some of you today, you're that harvest. And I want went to feel it, that God loves you so much. This is how much God loves you, that He sent His perfect son to die in your place, to plant that seed in the ground, that the one that didn't stay planted, that rose again so there could be a harvest of lives changed, and you could be that harvest. Today if you're watching online, or you're at one of our churches, and you realize, yeah, I've done so many things wrong, and I don't feel at peace with God, when you step away from your sins and you turn towards Jesus, when you call on Him, He hears your prayers. He forgives all of your sins. You don't just become better, you become different. The old is gone and all is new.
At all of our churches, those who say yes, I want His grace, I want to receive something I could never earn and I don't deserve. Today I surrender my life to Jesus. When you do that, He makes you new. All of our churches, those who say I want Him, by faith I walk away from my old life, I give my life to Jesus, that's your prayer. Lift your hands high now. All over the place say yes, Jesus, I'm giving my life to you. As we've got people at all of our different churches, calling on Him, those of you online, just type that into the chat, I'm giving my life to Jesus. Just type that in right now, I'm giving my life to Jesus. And right now, as some spiritual seeds are being sown in the Kingdom of God, let's pray together and believe for an eternal harvest. Would you pray aloud wherever you are?
Heavenly Father. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me. Change me. Make me new. Fill me with your Spirit. So I could be who you called me to be. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus name I pray.