“He threw down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple and departed and went and hanged himself” Matthew 27:5
Many years ago the union of which I was a member demanded that all members withdraw their labour in order to obtain higher pay. This action is a form of blackmail and contrary to God’s word, “Be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5). I refused to go on strike and withdrew my membership from the union.
What do we do when Jesus does not come through as we think He should? Judas went to the extreme of taking his own life. That is the ultimate and supreme act of rebellion against God by a total and permanent withdrawal of labour.
What many Christians do when they sense they have failed, they didn’t get their way or Jesus did not intervene or act as they thought He should, is that they withdraw labour. When some withdraw their service to Jesus Christ they become either spiritual policeman or spiritual advisors. The former considers it his service to Jesus to criticize those who actually do as Jesus taught (Matthew 28:20) and the latter believes he is serving Jesus by telling others how and what they should be doing. In both cases they have withdrawn their labour from Jesus Christ and replaced it with the appearance of service. It may look spiritual, and may feel spiritual; but it is an act of rebellion against Jesus Christ. This is similar to the kind of response that we observe in Judas. He withdrew his labour in one final act of rebellion from which there was no opportunity of repentance.
Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matthew 12:30). When we fail to openly identify with Jesus we are identifying with the spirit of anti-christ and Satan. When we read of Peter’s failure to identify with Jesus we observe a much different response to that of Judas. Peter grieved in his heart that he had betrayed and hurt Jesus by not identifying with Him. In spite of this failure he pressed on proving a great depth of repentance and love. In spite of his past failure Peter pressed on and Jesus restored the relationship (John 21:15-19).
At times we will fail through ignorance, disobedience, or not identifying with Jesus – but what we do afterward will demonstrate whether we really were serving Jesus or merely serving our own ambitions and goals. Anyone who does not persevere, evidenced by a withdrawal of service to Jesus, gives evidence that they have been serving their own ambitions and goals, not Christ’s. They have been living in the realm of the flesh, serving the spirit of anti-christ, and not the Spirit, serving Jesus Christ.
That is failure but there is still the opportunity to confess that sin and have a change of heart. That is what Jesus desires. Persevering after failure reveals true faith in, and love for, Jesus and is evidence of His working grace. This will lead to reconciliation and success in glorifying Jesus by bearing spiritual fruit.