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.