Word of the Week
November 5, 2022
Ekkakeō: Too Soon to Quit
But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
2 Thessalonians 3:13
Mothers of babies know what it’s like to be weary of their job – the never-ending diapers, bottles, fusses, meals. Add in the sleep deprivation and you can understand why they would laugh at anyone who told them, “Don’t get weary!”
Fatigue is a built-in feature of life. Whether you are a carpenter framing a house, a caretaker helping a handicapped person, or a teacher trying to corral a roomful of unruly kids, tiredness is inevitable.
That’s why it sounds unrealistic to read a Bible verse that says, “Don’t grow weary of doing good.”
If you are dragging through your day with your eyelids at half-mast, you will be glad to hear that fatigue is not a sin. When you examine the Greek word translated “grow weary,” you’ll find that it means more than just feeling worn out.
The Greek word rendered “grow weary” is ekkakeō, (ehk-kah-KEH-oh]. It only appears 6 times in the New Testament, and it describes the kind of fatigue that makes a person want to quit. In secular Greek, it was used to describe a warrior who would shrink his responsibilities or turn cowardly in the face of conflict. It refers not merely to sore muscles, but to the urge to throw in the towel.
Anyone who runs a marathon feels the fatigue of covering the miles, and runners often talking about “hitting the wall” toward the end of the race – the stage where you feel that you can’t go on. It’s the point where you have to decide whether to quit or to keep running!
In the New Testament, the Lord describes some of the “walls” that might tempt us to quit before we have finished the race.
- Don’t give up because of the pressures on other Christians.
Ephesians 3:13 – “Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.”
Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel, and it would have been easy to look at his fate and decide that Christianity costs too much. However, he urged the Ephesians not to give up. The gospel that had landed him in jail was the very gospel that opened the doors for them to have access to God!
We observe believers being slandered in our country and brutalized in other parts of the world, but Paul says, “Don’t quit! Don’t slide into passive anonymity, but keep on sharing the gospel.”
- Don’t give up because your burdens are too heavy.
Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
People empowered by the Holy Spirit help carry the load for others, even when it is hard. It may seem that there is no future in it. But life is like farming. You sow now and reap later. When you feel as if you’re tired of serving, don’t quit! Eternal rewards are waiting up ahead.
- Don’t give up because you’re tired of carrying your responsibilities.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 – “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.”
Some in Thessalonica had decided to let others support them, rather than working to meet their own needs. We all get tired of the daily routines, but we resist the urge to join the loafers who decide that it’s just too hard.
- Don’t quit praying because answers are slow to come.
Luke 18:1 – “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.”
Have you been praying for the salvation of a loved one for years? Don’t quit! We all know stories of people who have come to Christ after fifty years of faithful prayer.
- Don’t quit doing ministry without shortcuts because results seem meager.
2 Corinthians 4:1 – “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart.”
In chapter 3, Paul proclaimed that God had chosen him to share an unmatched message, even though he didn’t deserve such a privilege. His work in Corinth had been difficult, and many would have been tempted to resort to underhanded methods (see 4:2), but he refused to surrender his commitment to integrity.
- Don’t quit when things seem to be falling apart.
2 Corinthians 4:16 – “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
Paul had just reviewed a catalog of the ways in which he had been driven almost to the edge. If he had simply looked at his circumstances, he could have been driven to despair. But he chose to look at the unseen reality of God’s promises of eternal reward.
Winston Churchill caught the idea well in his famous commencement address: “Never give up! Never give up! Never! Never!”
Looking up ekkakeō in a Greek dictionary can be tricky because it is spelled differently in some ancient manuscripts, switching to egkakeō. Such a variation doesn’t affect the meaning, but it does mean that some word study tools don’t list all the references to the word in the same place. I have given you all six verses where this term shows up.
Q – When the Bible talks about a “peculiar people,” I’ve always thought it was talking about the Jews, who, to me, are a very peculiar people indeed. . . . I don’t see Christians as being peculiar at all. Most blend with the rest of the world . . . In the Los Angeles Jewish district, you can recognize a Jewish person by their particular attire.
A – You are correct in saying that Christians are not distinct from the rest of society in their outer appearance, while Orthodox Jews are more readily recognized. This is a good place to make it clear that the English word “peculiar” has more than one meaning. When the King James Bible described the people of God as a “peculiar people” in 1 Peter 2:9, it did not mean that they were odd or strange. It meant they were God’s “personal/private possession.”
Have you ever suspected that the boss just sits around and relaxes while the workers do all the hard stuff? Next week, we’re going to look at a Greek word that describes what leadership really requires.
©Ezra Project 2022
I truly appreciate your well-written explanations of what these Greek words mean in New Testament passages. My understanding is enriched through your sharing. Thank you!
Thank you so much. This has become a highlight in my e-mails!