Written Off

There have been occasions when it seemed like a particular outcome was inevitable and, to some, the seemingly inevitable outcome was conceded. Sometimes, it may have been an individual whose future was seemingly decided by events beyond their control and a particular fate was accepted as merely inevitable, so no further attempts to contradict or overcome that anticipated outcome was made.

      Maybe you’ve watched a football game where one team was up by a margin so large that most people simply conceded the win and turned off the television or went home. Maybe you saw an athlete get injured to such a degree it seemed like his or her professional career ended that very moment. In such cases, there may be a widely-believed expectation of a certain outcome, and that team or that individual is, as we sometimes say, ‘written off’ — we have given up on the team or individual and we no longer have any expectation of a positive outcome.

      If you have watched sports for very long, though, you know that some of those individuals and teams that have been ‘written off’ have made some amazing comebacks. While most everyone dismissed the possibility of any future positive outcome, unexpected events changed the likelihood of that, and they surprised most everyone by overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds and delivered some spectacular and memorable efforts that defied expectations.

      Maybe you have seen this outside sports competitions, too. Maybe someone you know started out in life with some obstacles and barriers, and seemed to have been dealt a bad hand to start with in life, completely out of their control. Maybe they were born into extreme poverty or raised in difficult circumstances, and lived without many material comforts and possibly even in a dangerous environment. Maybe they didn’t have parents who cared much for their responsibilities to their children and were neglected and deprived of a satisfactory education or even regular nourishment.

      It may be that some had low expectations of the one who came out of such situations, or maybe no expectations [for good] at all. Maybe the only expectation was that they would continue the cycle of poverty, be forever unemployable, uneducated, end up in jail or dead. When some see someone with a difficult upbringing, they tend to make some quick and unmerciful judgments and have little expectations of good.

      We tend to make quick judgments about others, or judgments based on limited information or evidence that would substantiate our judgments, all unfairly so and — many times — incorrectly so. Aren’t we glad God hasn’t done the same for us? Aren’t we glad God hasn’t written us off?

      You see, despite the fact “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), God still “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Despite the fact that man still sins to such a considerable degree, God still shows incredible “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Please understand, God has not written us off. God has not written off you. He hasn’t given up on you or considered you a hopeless case. He still wants you to be saved and is, in fact, delaying the end of all things to give you time to respond to the immeasurable love He has demonstrated.

      Jesus hasn’t written you off, and He didn’t mark anyone down as ‘hopeless’ when He walked this earth, either. When a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus, and her accusers reminded Jesus, “Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned” (John 8:2-5), Jesus eventually told her accusers, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7), and then after they had all abandoned their effort to test Him and have something with which they could accuse Him, He then told the woman — who, let us not deny the facts here, was guilty of adultery — “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:8-11). Jesus did not ‘writer her off,’ but gave her a second chance.

      Then there is the apostle Peter. Jesus knew beforehand — and told Peter beforehand — that he would deny Jesus, but Peter denied it (Matt. 26:34, 35). When Peter did deny being a disciple of Jesus [three times, just as Jesus had said], Peter “went out and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:69-75). Some, at that point, would have ‘written off’ Peter as a weak and disloyal, cowardly disciple. But Jesus did not. In fact, Jesus even told Peter, one the same occasion when He foretold Peter’s denial, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32). Jesus did not give up on Peter, but gave him a second chance.

      Then, of course, there is the man we first know as Saul — one of the church’s greatest persecutors. He would later admit, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,…and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished” (Acts 22:4, 5).  He would also acknowledge, “I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth…many of the saints I shut up in prison…when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:9-11).

      With just this confession of such acts against God’s people, I think we might all be among those who would have no thoughts of him being a Christian — much less one of the most powerful teachers of the gospel message. We would probably be among those in Jerusalem who, after Saul’s conversion and attempt to join the disciples in Jerusalem, “were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26). We might have ‘written off’ Saul, but Jesus did not. No, Jesus told Saul [who would later be known as the apostle Paul], “I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:17, 18).

      So, my friend, if you feel like you are just too deep into sin and the world and that God would never want you to be one of His children, think again. God has not written you off. Jesus has not written you off. The world may think you are hopeless, your friends and family may think you are hopeless, and it is likely there are many who are not looking out for your best interests who would tell you, too, that you are beyond saving. But God does not think so. God has not written you off. He still desires that you come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (2 Tim. 2:3, 4).

      And don’t think that if you sin again or make some really poor choices that God will change His mind and then give up on you. To Christians, God has said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John. 1:9). God will not write you off; He will forgive!

            The world has it wrong.          — Steven Harper