No doubt you’ve heard the phrase, “To throw in the towel,” which simply means to quit. The phrase comes from the sport of boxing. Years ago, corner men used sponges to clean the boxer’s face of blood and sweat in between rounds. If at any point during the fight the boxer’s team felt the fighter could not continue without risk of personal safety, they would toss the sponge into the ring and the referee would immediately stop the fight. Over time, the towel replaced the sponge, and hence the expression.
I’d like to offer you a word of encouragement with a modified expression: Don’t throw in the trowel! A trowel is a tool used for building, primarily by masons who use a trowel for leveling, spreading, or shaping substances such as cement or mortar.
In the boxing world, “throwing in the towel” can mean the difference between life and death. Boxers have died in the ring, often because a fighter does not know when enough is enough, which is why a discerning corner man is critical in this combat sport. However, in the world of believing, throwing in the trowel is not an option. Those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and are counted among His ranks are called to spend a lifetime in the process of building, shaping, and growing to maturity in their faith.
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18)
Peter gave us a tremendous reminder that growing up into Christ is a lifelong project that will not be completed until we get to the other side. And notice that this not simply a suggestion for us to make a decision about. It is a divine imperative, which means we are commanded by God to grow to maturity.
The Bible knows nothing of the stunted saint who has decided to stop growing along the way to glory. Let me ask you a question: How high will a tree grow? The answer, of course, is “As high as it can!”
You may be thinking, “That’s an odd question. Of course a tree will grow as high as it can!” And you’re right. Everything in God’s creation will grow as much as it can . . . except people. We are the only members of God’s creation who often make a decision to stop growing.
But this is not for you! God has given us several means of grace that assist us in the process of growing to maturity, such as Bible study, prayer, fasting, service, giving, and corporate worship, to name just a few. It is our responsibility to appropriate these means in our life. God has given us the trowel, but we need to pick it up and use it to shape our growth!
I have written this before, but it is always important to remember that it is not the means that grow us to maturity; it is our Master! And yet He has ordained the means that we are to use in the process as He pours out His grace in our lives.
So . . . how are you doing in your life-long building project? The key that unlocks the door that leads to growing in grace is the understanding that it happens daily, not in a day. There will certainly be those days when you will feel like you have taken one step forward and two steps backward. That’s simply part of the process, so don’t get discouraged! If some failure or setback has caused you to consider “throwing in the trowel,” keep looking to the One who promised to finish in you what He started (Philippians 1:6), knowing that one day, you will be brought home into glory, conformed perfectly into the image and likeness of Jesus!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!