Cancel

One of the things I love about the Bible is its sheer realism. The irony is that the world thinks the Bible is full of fairy tales. Yet, when you engage with its teaching, you find that it fits our humanity. The God who wrote the Bible “knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). The teaching of Scripture is wonderfully realistic.

While studying Galatians in house groups, I was struck by this passage: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:9–10).

Paul has expounded the gospel, the glorious freedom that Christ brings. One hymn puts it like this: for those who are in Christ, “the terrors of law and of God with me can have nothing to do.” We must guard our hearts against falling back into a pattern of thought that thinks it is what we do, our external acts, that make us acceptable to God. It is subtle and the temptation to slip back into legalism is always with us.

In Galatians 6, the Apostle is applying how this works out in church life as he speaks of our duty toward one another. We do not live the Christian life on our own as isolated individuals: my actions and your actions have a profound effect on one another. The air we breathe—that we don’t even notice—is that of individualism, and so we often miss the profoundly corporate nature of our faith. Paul is saying that we have a duty towards one another to help and restore one another humbly, we carry each other’s burdens. In all this we need to have a right view of ourselves in order to help others.

Written into the warp and woof of this world is that we will reap what we sow. We are being urged not to live for ourselves but to sow to the Spirit, to live for God, and to give ourselves to other people. Our day-to-day grind is important, and we will reap a harvest as we live for God. Our home life matters. Our work life matters. Everything matters. Isn’t it wonderful that how we live matters?

This is where Galatians 6:9–10 comes in, because to live in the way that Galatians 6 envisages has the potential to become wearying. After all, living for others doesn’t come naturally to any of us. The natural bent of my heart—and all our hearts—is toward selfishness, so Paul gives us this brilliant command. Let us not become weary in doing good. The problem with doing good is that we can become weary. Doing good can often be a thankless task, for very often we don’t see the reward that we long for, particularly in the short term.

Our home life matters. Our work life matters. Everything matters.

You mothers who are working so hard in your families and yet you feel that the rewards are little. It is easy to become discouraged, to compare yourself with others and dream of a different life. Don’t grow weary; you will reap a harvest from the Lord if you don’t give up.

You who are serving in church life and maybe are often overlooked—you feel taken for granted at times. The temptation to weariness is so prevalent, so do not quit; don’t daydream of an easier life. God sees your work, and He will reward you.

You older men and women who are finding that you don’t have the energy you once had—you may be finding that to give of yourself is costly and tiring. It’s easy to think life would be easier just not to reach out to others. Press on, for the Lord will bless you for investing in others.

Here is an imperative based on the indicative of what Paul has taught us of the gospel and the freedom we have in Christ: We are to eagerly look to do good to others especially the family of believers. I like that Paul says in verse 10, “As you have opportunity.” We cannot do it all, and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for what we cannot do, but there will be good that God has put in our way that we can do today and this month.

Embedded in this paragraph in chapter 6 is a farmer. That farmer gets up early morning all through the long dark winter as he plants his crops, works his fields, and deals with the constant repairs of farm life. He has worries over the weather and concerns over his animals. A few years ago, I went on holiday after a particularly busy patch. I was feeling tired and full of self-pity. We visited some friends who are sheep farmers. As the friend described his day and working pattern, I suddenly realized I live a very sheltered existence. Why does the farmer go about the backbreaking work? Because he knows there will be a harvest that makes all the effort worth it.

In Isaiah 49, we are given the most remarkable glimpse into the inner life of the servant of the Lord where he says, “I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God” (Isa. 49:4). Jesus knew what it was to be tired, to be weary, and He looked forward to His reward. He kept going on doing good. Jesus didn’t labor to gain the love of His Father but He worked out of the love of His Father. We have a Savior who understands what it is to feel weary in doing good and yet who kept going. He is our model and our strength. The harvest is coming.

Martin Luther on Preparing to Die

The “Mega Joy” of Christmas