The parable of the widow who didn’t give up
“Then Jesus used this story to teach his followers that they should always pray and never lose hope. In a certain town there was a judge who did not respect God or care about people. In that same town there was a widow who kept coming to this judge, saying, 'Give me my rights against my enemy.' For a while the judge refused to help her. But afterwards, he thought to himself, 'Even though I don't respect God or care about people, I will see that she gets her rights. Otherwise she will continue to bother me until I am worn out.'”
“The Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unfair judge said. God will always give what is right to his people who cry to him night and day, and he will not be slow to answer them. I tell you, God will help his people quickly. But when the Son of Man comes again, will he find those on earth who believe in him?’" Luke 18:1-8 (NCV).
The fact that the widow didn’t give up, is what made her special and this is what Jesus wanted to teach us through this parable.
What would have happened if the widow had given up the first time she was turned away by the judge? What if, when he would not help, she just said to herself, “Oh well, I tried, and that’s that”? Is just having tried once good enough? The parable says that she “bothered him”. She kept coming. She came back and all the time pleaded with the judge to give her her right. She was desperate. She needed to get her right against her enemy, she knew where she needed to go to get that right, and she didn’t stop until she got it.
Who is my enemy?
“Why doesn’t God answer me when I pray? I feel like I am crying out …” These kinds of thoughts are common. But what is it that I am crying out for? Is it to have my own will done, or is it for God’s will to be done in my life? The widow cried out for her right against her enemy.
Who are my enemies? Are they not the things in my own sinful human nature that stop me from doing God’s will? There are so many “enemies” in our human nature. Pride, suspicion, stubbornness, laziness, unwillingness to forgive. Not being able to love and be good to everyone I meet. Jealousy, having something against someone, worry, a bad temper.
The list goes on. Have I prayed and kept on praying until God has saved me from these enemies as I’ve seen them in myself? Until He’s given me the power to resist and to battle them until they are completely overcome? Until I’m free, so that goodness and all the fruits of the Spirit can grow in my life?
Am I like this widow?
How is it with me? Do I also keep crying out until God hears my prayer? Jesus said that God will help his people quickly, those “who cry to him night and day”. Have I cried out about my need? Have I kept asking? Or have I asked, hoping for the best, but not sure if He will ever hear me? That is the kind of attitude that made Jesus ask, “But when the Son of Man comes again, will he find those on earth who believe in him?”
Jesus also said, “And from the days of John the Baptist till now, the kingdom of heaven is forcing its way in, and men of force take it.” Matthew 11:12 (BBE). These are strong words! Forcing its way in! I have to keep crying out until my need is filled! If I give up because of any difficulty or stumbling block, did I then really believe that God would hear me? If I had asked in faith, with no doubting, as James teaches us to pray, then I would have kept going. (James 1:5-6.) I wouldn’t have given up so easily. I wouldn’t have lost hope.
But I have to be desperate to get my “right against my enemy”, to get rid of all those “enemies” in my sinful human nature.
My right against my enemy: Getting the fruits of the Spirit
“… do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. If all these things are in you and growing, you will never fail to be useful to God. You will produce the kind of fruit that should come from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8 (ERV).
If these are the things that I am crying out for, constantly, and not giving up, then God will help me quickly. “Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to those who knock.” Matthew 7:7-8 (GNT).
If I am seeking first the kingdom of God – seeking first to get more of the fruits of the Spirit in me – then I will also get everything I need, both spiritually and practically. God wants me to be free from “my enemies”, free from the sins that prevent my growth in Christ. Everything that happens to me in my life works towards that goal. If I want to be free, then, just like the widow, I know exactly where to go and what I must do to become free. (Matthew 6:33; 2 Corinthians 4:10.)