|Series Theme: Meditations in Galatians|
Meditation No. 33
Meditation Title: Do Good
Gal 6:9,10 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
There is a style of Christian preaching, not quite so prevalent today I believe, that just looks for all the bad things in the world and in the individual and is more condemning than anything else. Now please note before we really move into these verses the balance that Paul has brought to the discussion in the book. He has balanced teaching on the old sinful life with life in the Spirit. He has spoken about both and brought almost equal balance as he has spoken about life. In the verses of the previous meditation he contrasted the outworking of both life-styles, although the strength of the warning could leave us feeling there was a finger being pointed in our direction.
But Paul's teaching never leaves us in a negative frame of mind; he always comes up with the positive. For example, when he wrote to the Colossians he laid down a number of negative instructions, e.g.: Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Col 3:5) but balanced it with positive instructions: as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Col 3:12). You find lots of similar things when he wrote to the Ephesians, for example, Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (the negatives). Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (the positives). (Eph 4:31,32) Note the motivation given to be positive in both verses!
Thus now in Galatians we come to a similar negative followed by positive. First the negative: Let us not become weary in doing good. He is going to conclude with a strong positive word of guidance and encouragement, but he's aware that sometimes life is tough, life is hard, and we tend to get worn down. Often the Christian life IS a battle and battles are tiring. You pour out your life for others and get bitten in return. You do things out of the best of motives and are wrong impugned. You pour your life out for others and they walk away from the Lord. These sorts of things are exhausting. We've been doing good but we're left feeling utterly weary, so this is a very real word.
But Paul doesn't leave the negative there before he goes on to the very real positives; he gives a good reason for not giving up: for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. See what he says the proper time. There is a time for good things to come through. He pictures the good outworking as a harvest, and we know a harvest can only come when the ground has been prepared, the seed sown and then watered and fed. Harvest comes at the end of a process so, says Paul, realise that sometimes all of our good is just part of the process and we've got to wait a while for the good outcomes to arrive. If you give up though, it may be that you are stopping the process and the harvest will not come so, think positively, keep on being part of the process and eventually there will be a good outcome!
Let's get on to the really positive bit: let us do good to all people. If you wanted a simple guide for the day (and every day), here it is: do good to people. It sounds so simple but when you start thinking of the people who surround your life, you realise that some of them are difficult, some are not nice, and it's not always easy to do good to people. But this verse is similar to Jesus' injunction, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Mt 5:16). The trouble is that Paul doesn't say, do good to nice people only; he says do good to ALL people, and that is why doing something even so apparently simple as this, needs God's grace. But there are two riders to this exhortation.
The first rider comes before it, as we have opportunity. Very often we get ourselves into a guilt thing over some people but the reality is that for the people we have in mind, we just don't have the opportunity. To the Ephesians Paul said, Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity , because the days are evil. (Eph 5:15 ,16) and to the Colossians, Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity . ( Col 4:5) Did you see in both cases he spoke about being wise? Sometimes we can make opportunities and sometimes just take opportunities, but we have to be alert to the circumstances. When they present themselves, do good!
The second rider, which follows the exhortation, is, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. You may not have lots of opportunities with people in the world (but there will be some!) but certainly in your relationships in the church, we will certainly find many opportunities to bless people. Fed up with all the talk of the old sinful life? They turn you back on it and determine, with God's grace, to be a blessing to whoever you come across. Be Jesus to them. Love them and bless them. Wow, what a day it's going to be!