Throwing in the Towel: Dying Daily

"Throwing in the towel" is an idiom or figure of speech commonly used to express that one is quitting.  It comes from the sport of boxing when a boxer's trainer throws a towel into the ring to stop the fight because his fighter is getting pummeled beyond recovery.

We should throw in the towel every day.  Yes, you should quit.   You probably don't like reading this, let alone doing it.  Neither do I.  That's probably because by the very nature of our western idea of success, this sounds really bad.  But it's true.  Throw in the towel.

If you're a Christian, that is, if you're a follower of Jesus who has surrendered your life to Christ, then at some point you've thrown in the towel.  You've said, "I can't keep up this fight.  I'm going to quit doing it my way.  I'm going to quit battling on my own.  I don't have any more strength.  I'm pummeled beyond recovery.  I give up." But when you gave up, you cried out to Jesus.  You may have said something like, "I can't do it, Jesus.  Help me!"  And if you're living the Christian life, this should be a regular occurrence.  You should quit often.  "Jesus, I can't keep doing this on my own.  Help me!"   Some people think of this like a tag-team with Jesus, but that's not how Paul saw it.  

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul made the comment that he dies every day (1 Corinthians 15:31).  He throws in the towel daily.  He doesn't tag Jesus and then Jesus steps in for a while--he dies.  He's got no more fight in him.  It's likely that Paul's comment is in reference to something Jesus said in Luke.  He said, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (Luke 9:23-24, ESV).  Going to the cross means to die, to be killed.  Game over.  But in losing your life, you will save it! 

In ministry, I often find myself working hard, striving to accomplish things.  I plan and execute.  I think about problems and solutions.  But it seems that more often than not, I find myself pushed to the edge.  It gets hard.  Things happen that are way beyond my control.  My plans just can't account for reality.  My solutions fall grossly short.  So I throw in the towel.  I cry out, "That's it; I can't do it Jesus.  Help me!"  And the strangest thing happens.  God seems to bring solutions.  Plans come together.  The ministry goes forward; not without me, but in spite of me!  I find that when I quit, when I die to myself, things get amazing.  And you'd think I'd figure this out and throw in the towel first thing in the morning every day.  I'm learning, but my prideful self needs to take a few punches first before I realize that apart from Christ I'm beyond recovery.

* Photo take by user, MrBragaosian is registered under a creative commons license and used with permission.