About the author


Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at


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    Sometimes people put themselves in the “too hard box” by failing to take personal responsibility and failing to avail themselves of the ordinary means of grace. How long do you persist with people when this is their consistent attitude and behaviour?


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    Jason Harris

    Hey PJ,

    I would attempt to approach this through a gospel lens.

    I would suggest that everyone is born in the “too hard box” by virtue of original sin and that EVERYONE systematically continues to place themselves in the “too hard box” by virtue of sins of commission and omission (e.g. not availing themselves of the ordinary means of grace). This then makes the solution clearer in my mind. So God interrupts our headlong dash to destruction at conversion and continues to interrupt it through the process of sanctification.

    Each person’s “designer lusts” will result in differing areas of rebel tendency and different degrees and kinds of sin and damage. But for every single child of God, he is lovingly teaching them to trust him and obey him. The pace of growth in holiness will differ because the obstacles and struggles will differ. And because the personalities involved will differ. And because of a thousand other factors. No one will make it all the way there (or even close) until glorification. And no true believer will sit out of the fight entirely. But at the end of the day, God will not give up on his own. Which is our only hope of glory. Patience with repeated failure, then, is a gospel process which should cease when God’s grace ceases.

    All that said, there is a time to comfort, a time to warn, and a time to rebuke. Each of these will play a role in ministry to such people. Additionally, the fact that God’s grace has not run out doesn’t mean that I must continue to pour my resources in. There are times in ministry when I’ll have to say “I love you and earnestly desire your growth in grace, but the best way I can help you right now is to stop trying to help you. I’m not saying you’re not saved or that I reject you. I don’t. I just don’t know how else I can help you and I can’t justify pouring much time into you at this point. Therefore I will continue to pray for you and commend you to the grace of God who will not fail you.” Such a move, when motivated by genuine love and humility, can, I think, minister grace even in the process of stepping back. It is appropriate in the case where repentance is professed and the person seems to want to change, but just isn’t getting anywhere over a long period of time. The key, I think, is to avoid rejection and condemnation and instead to see myself next to them… a sinner… just as prone to wander… just as much in need of gracious intervention.

    Sometimes it just takes time. I have seen God continue to work after I’ve given up so many times. When the time comes to step back, my goal is to get out of God’s way without the pride, condemnation, or rejection that would undermine the gospel I long for them to grasp.


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