Imagine that you’re attending a conference, and the speaker talks about the terms used in Christianity and how confusing they can be. In some situations, we’re told to hold on, but at other times, we’re told to let go. Well, which one is it? How do we know which one we’re supposed to do at any given time? We can say the same thing about giving up and letting go. In some ways, they seem similar, but they’re vastly different.

In both cases, you’re releasing something, but the feelings, emotions, and thoughts attached to these decisions underscore the differences between giving up and letting go. It also matters how we see these two things: giving up is seen as negative, while letting go is often seen as positive. The decision between letting go and giving up may be a challenging topic for some people, especially if you’ve given up or feel like you’re about to. Hopefully, by the time you finish this article, you’ll feel inspired to get up and keep going. Here are some differences between letting go and giving up.

Your Frame of Mind

When you let go of something, you’re making a conscious decision from a place of acceptance. You let go because continuing that behavior or attitude stops you from progressing. However, when you give up, there’s a sense of resignation or defeat. It’s not that you couldn’t keep going, but you chose not to. For example, in Hebrews 12:1, the author encourages us to let go of what’s stopping us from becoming who God has called us to be and doing what He’s called us to do. You accept that these entanglements aren’t good, so you let them go for something better. However, in Galatians 6:9, you’re doing what’s good, but you can become tired of doing it, which can lead you to want to give up. In these cases, the person letting go has a perspective that desires to press ahead, while giving up comes from a mindset of someone who’s had enough.


When you let go, you let go of control of a situation. You still have an interest in the outcome, but you release the results to God. You might continue to pray for the situation and do your best, but you’re no longer trying to force it to happen. This situation can happen in a marriage where there’s something your spouse is doing or not doing, and you want them to change. You do everything in your power to get them to change. You remind them of things, leave notes, and give obvious hints, but nothing changes. In this instance, letting go happens when you acknowledge that you can’t change them and leave the outcome to God. You still pray and are vested in the marriage, but you no longer try to make the change happen yourself. When you give up, you release your hope and no longer care how it turns out. In this same marital example, giving up brings you to a place of resignation, and your attitude becomes indifferent. When this happens, you check out, stop praying, and any hope of change disappears.

Failure vs. Freedom

When you let go of something, there’s usually a sense of freedom attached to letting it go. If you recall, in Hebrews 12, the writer encourages us to let go of things weighing us down. You feel liberated and lighter when you let go of those things. The lifted weight gives you freedom from what you’re holding on to. Imagine the feeling of struggling with unforgiveness for years. The moment you let the unforgiveness go, you feel a weight lifted and the freedom that comes with it, wondering why you waited so long to do this. Simultaneously, when you give up, there’s a sense of failure attached to it. Ironically, that failure can become something you carry around, stopping you from running the race God has for you. Sometimes, when you give up, you don’t just give up on that one thing and choose to give up on everything. Instead of seeing it as a singular instance, you can take on that failure as an identity. If that happens, you severely hamper your ability to move forward in your journey with God.

After Peter denied Christ, he ran away and wept intensely. He probably felt like a failure and wanted to give up. However, after Jesus’ resurrection, He completely restored Peter. His story was incomplete, and he became the man God wanted him to be all along, so don’t label yourself as a failure if you’ve given up on something. God can restore you and help you move forward in the race He has for you.

Shame vs. Peace

When you let go of things, especially giving them to God, peace typically accompanies that decision. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to be anxious about anything but to present our requests to God in every situation by petition and prayer with thanksgiving, and the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, will protect our hearts and minds in Jesus. The process of petition and prayer involves letting go, or at least it’s supposed to.

In prayer, we say that we won’t try to handle this situation anymore on our own. Amazingly, God protects our hearts with His peace when we do this. In comparison, when we give up, a sense of sadness comes with it. That sadness might result from feelings of failure or wasted time. There’s no sense of peace because you feel like you let down yourself, God, or the people around you.

If you’ve given up, you might experience grief or hopelessness, but there is hope for you, as detailed in Proverbs 24:16. Even if you’ve given up, there’s still time to get back up. Truthfully, the game isn’t over yet. If you’re still here, then God has a purpose for your life, but you have to let go of those past failures and move forward. The best part is that you have a faithful God, and if you let Him, He’ll help you get up and keep going. Even if you’ve given up on yourself, God will never give up on you.

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