We live in exhausting times! The world expects a lot of us. We often put unreal demands upon ourselves—our strength, our time, our energy. When we reach the end of the day and fall asleep during the evening news. Then we get up in the morning—exhausted before we begin, and find ourselves trying to “shoehorn” things into an already over packed daily schedule. Most of us have, more than once, run the white flag of surrender up the proverbial flagpole.
So this morning’s reminder from Paul to the Galatians comes as both a gentle chastisement—LET US NOT BECOME WEARY IN DOING GOOD……AND a divine promise—WE WILL REAP A HARVEST.
Again, the reality is that it is very easy to get tired of “doing good”. We become weary…discouraged…down-hearted…frustrated. We wonder how we can keep going when no one seems to care…when life throws us one curve after another.
The letter to the Galatians can give us answers to those questions. If we look back to last week’s “reminder”, Paul exhorted his readers to KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT. We need to remember we are not doing this on our own. If we are following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God will give us the strength, the energy, even the TIME to do what we need to do to complete the task He has laid out before us.
In the second verse of this sixth chapter, he reminds to CARRY EACH OTHERS BURDENS—IN THIS WAY, YOU FULFILL THE LAW OF CHRIST. The work we do to help another, prayers we offer in support, muscle and mental strength we exert to lift and encourage and support one another is enhanced by our Lord Himself when we are following the LAW OF CHRIST. And what might that “Law” be?
Follow the Law of Christ
In twenty-second chapter of Matthew, a lawyer tried to put Jesus to the test—
Then Jesus got very specific when He said—ALL THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS HANG ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS.” More than once, He reiterated this lesson as He did in John 13:34—LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.
Sheeps and Goats
Jesus spelled out what that meant in the day-to-day world using an example these sheep-tending people could understand in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew. He talked about the separating of the sheep and the goats that occurs at the end of the day.
He said the sheep (the followers) would be gathered into the fold—protected from the predators of the night, the storms and the dangers of the region. Those who followed the Shepherd’s “nudges” from His staff—would find their all needs met.
On the other hand, the goats—who were often head-strong, independent, “do-their-own-thing” types—would be left to graze on the rocky hillside, forced to fend for themselves in the harsh environment.
And who exactly were the sheep? They were those who shouldered the burdens of others, showed love and care and concern for their fellowmen, treated others as an extension of Christ Himself. FOR I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME FOOD…I WAS THIRSTY AND YOU GAVE ME DRINK…Jesus said. I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU WELCOMED ME…I WAS NAKED AND YOU CLOTHED ME…I WAS SICK AND YOU VISITED ME…I WAS IN PRISON AND YOU CAME TO ME….He summed up the lesson by saying—AS YOU DID IT TO ONE OF THE LEAST OF THESE MY BRETHREN, YOU DID IT TO ME. (Matthew 25:35-36, 40)
When we follow the Law of Christ, we are treating other people the way WE would want to be treated if the situation was reversed. In Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount, WHATEVER YOU WISH THAT MEN WOULD DO TO YOU, DO SO TO THEM.
Paul put it this way in this sixth chapter of Galatians—A MAN REAPS WHAT HE SOWS…ONE WHO SOWS TO PLEASE THE SPIRIT, FROM THE SPIRIT WILL REAP ETERNAL LIFE.
Test Your Actions and Your Motives
When we attempt to “keep in step with the Spirit”…when we are trying to “fulfill the Law of Christ” by loving one another, we need to (in the words of Galatians 6:4) TEST (our) OWN ACTIONS. In a nutshell—ask yourself—-WHY am I doing what I’m doing? What is the motivating factor behind my actions? What is pushing me (or inviting me) to participate in this activity…organize this fund-raiser…spend time on this project…even help this person?
Are my actions the result of following Christ, or is it my own “need to be needed”? Am I seeking recognition, fame, “glory” for being a selfless servant of Christ, or am I willing to do what needs to be done—no matter who gets the credit? Am I going to “wrestle the angel” like Jacob did at the River Jabbock —holding on for the blessing, or will I surrender to the pressures on my time, my spirit, my life and give up?
When I reflect upon the struggle between Jacob and the angel in the book of Genesis, chapter 32, I am reminded of the words of an American boxer, James Corbett, from the beginning of the twentieth century.
“Fight one more round. When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the centre of the ring, fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired you wish your opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round – remembering that the man who always fights one more round is never whipped.”
Use the Armor of God
If the struggle in which I am engaged is under the Lord’s direction, I am attempting to share Christ’s love, to bring healing and hope, peace and reconciliation, forgiveness and restoration, then I must not and cannot quit.
If we are keeping IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT and truly attempting to follow the Law of Christ which is love, then we will find our strength and fortitude, our will and our resolve constantly tested. We will struggle, often, against the weariness that comes from trying to be the good in the world and will constantly face the temptation to give up and quit trying to make a difference. In those times, we need to remember Paul’s lesson to the Ephesians—
If you know yourself and can recognize your adversary, you can lean strongly on the Lord and His strength. TAKE THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD THAT YOU MAY BE ABLE TO WITHSTAND IN THE EVIL DAY, Paul says, AND HAVING DONE ALL—-STAND.
LET US NOT BECOME WEARY IN DOING GOOD…keep at it…don’t stop…get up one more time than you get knocked down…fight one more round. AT THE PROPER TIME—not OUR time but God’s time…WE WILL REAP A HARVEST—IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.
My favorite poet, Edgar A. Guest taught me this–
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, And the road you're trudging seems all uphill, When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile, but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you must, but don't you quit…. Success is failure turned inside out, The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are. It may be near when it seems afar. So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit. It's when things seem worst that you musn’t quit. “Keep Going”…published in the Detroit Free Press (March 4,1921)
So long as you know you are “keeping in step with the Spirit” and attempting to fulfill the Law of Christ, if you are “keeping on keeping on”, God has promised to meet our daily needs—to give us the strength, the courage. the love, the faith and the patience to see the battle through to the end. Don’t give up. And remember—the battle is not ours—it is the Lord’s.