For someone who does NOT enjoy boxing, MMA, or UFC… I have a weird affinity for the Sylvester Stallone Rocky movies. Maybe it was because I grew up with two older brothers and parents who saw the films in theaters. Perhaps it was because whenever we would watch one, we would inevitably proclaim a family diet and exercise plan. All I know is, whenever I hear the song “Eye of the Tiger” or “Gonna Fly Now,” it takes me to a state of being able to run through a brick wall. Or at least I would like to think so anyway. It is not so much opinion so much as it is a fact that Rocky IV is the greatest of these films. In potentially the biggest mismatch since David and Goliath, Rocky had to face a giant of a man, Ivan Drago. On top of the apparent mismatch was the cultural significance of the United States of America going toe-to-toe with Soviet-era Russia.
Rocky’s best friend in the world, Apollo Creed, decided to come out of retirement and challenge Drago to an exhibition. From the ringing of the first bell, anyone could foresee that this would not go well. Drago was quickly pulverizing Creed to a pulp. Rocky had a decision to make. You see, if you do not know much about boxing, the managers of each boxer have the option of “throwing in the towel” to end the fight if they believe their fighter is in danger. Blow for blow, cut for cut… Apollo begs Rocky NOT to throw in the towel. Even still, Rocky has the towel in hand, ready to end the fight before his worst nightmare happens. Sure enough, Rocky is one punch too late. Apollo, his greatest friend in all the world, fell to the ground and would never get back up. Rocky would then go on to avenge his best friend’s death and defeat Drago in his own backyard, Moscow.
If you haven’t noticed, it is not easy to be a Christian lately. I’m not sure it ever was, to be honest, but especially here recently, I believe Christians may be facing the greatest challenges before us in many decades. Politics, prejudices, and a life-altering pandemic have touched each one of us one way or another. With all that is going on, many times, I feel like a boxer on the ropes. Sadly, sometimes I want to throw in the towel and quit fighting. I think all of us can admit to feeling like this from time to time. When Satan has attacked you, or when particular pain and suffering enters your life, it is hard for any of us not to throw in the towel and give up.
In many respects, there is no shame in deciding to throw in the towel. In boxing, if throwing in the towel means sparing your life, then it is the only choice to make. In life, if throwing in the towel means leaving a toxic environment to alleviate unneeded stress and pain in your life, then perhaps it is the smart decision. There are so many aspects of life that we actually need to swallow our pride and throw in the towel, thereby focusing on what matters, like our faith, our family, and our well-being.
However, I am afraid Christians have the temptation to throw in the towel on their faith. When brothers and sisters in Christ disappoint us, discourage us, or disparage us, it is so tempting to want to give up and throw in the towel. When storms of life begin to drown you and your family, it may seem best just to throw in the towel. We have to realize that when it comes to our faith and our love for God… we must NEVER THROW IN THE TOWEL. Whenever we feel on the ropes, whenever we begin to tread water, all we have to do is take it to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. People may disappoint, but He never will.
The Apostle Paul was whipped five times, beaten three times, stoned, shipwrecked three times, malnourished, without clothing, and experienced perils beyond our comprehension (2 Corinthians 11:22-27). I cannot imagine how many times he wanted to throw in the towel. Instead of throwing in the towel, though, Paul kept the faith. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing,” 2 Timothy 4:6-8
If you are tempted to throw in the towel, believe me; I get it. But just look at the triumph of Paul. He fought the fight, he finished the race, and he kept the faith. Because he never threw in the towel, he received that crown of righteousness from the Lord Himself. We too, have that same assurance laid up for us; all we have to do is keep getting back up off the ground. At the end of the day, Jesus had every reason to throw in the towel on me. I’m so glad He didn’t.
-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism