Don’t Weary of Doing Good

So let_s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don_t give up. (1)

There used to be a huge, beautiful tree in our front yard right near our house. There was only one problem with the tree: it was dead. A beautiful tree that is dead is always tragic; a dead tree that is huge is always expensive. Nevertheless, we had to hire a company to take it down.

When the deed was done, one of the men asked a favor. Would we mind if they left the debris of a tree from another job along the road in front of our house with the debris of our tree which was scheduled to be picked up later in the week? Seemed like a simple enough request and an opportunity to be kind. “Sure,” we replied.

The next morning, I looked out the front window to see a cloud of flying insects swirling above the tree branches piled out by the road giving the appearance of a biblical plague. I rushed out to get a better look. About that time, my neighbor appeared.

“Those look like termites,” he declared with an air of authority and disgust.

“They do?”

“Yes, they do! Are they from your tree?”

“I don’t think so. We let the tree removal company leave another tree here with ours that they had removed earlier from a different job,” I admitted sheepishly while swatting at the flying menaces.

My neighbor shook his head as he turned to head back up his driveway. “You know, no good deed goes unpunished. I hope your act of kindness doesn’t give us all termites!”

Sometimes it feels like that, doesn’t it? You try to do something good, something kind, and it blows up in a cloud of termites. Thankfully, my neighbor wasn’t exactly right. It isn’t true that every good deed is punished, but it also isn’t true that every good deed is appreciated. Scripture warns us against growing weary of doing what is good or we might be tempted to give up. I know there are times I have felt that way. I started to reflect on why and I came up with a few ideas.

Doing good flows from love, and love always includes sacrifice.

If we’re going to do what is good, it will probably cost us something we value: comfort, money, time, energy, relationships, safety, etc. Sacrifices can be hard to make. I enjoy comfort and I like to have a little extra money. If I’m focused on the sacrifices I’m making, instead of the sacrifices that have been made by others for me (including Jesus’ sacrifice), I will grow weary.

Our good deeds may be misunderstood, envied, feared, and despised.

One needs only look at the life of Jesus to see examples of all the above. Jesus’ miracles were often misunderstood. At one point, He was even accused of working with Satan (Matthew 12:22-24).

The good He did meant crowds surrounded Him, people praised Him, and many followed Him which caused the powerful, prideful religious leaders at that time to both envy Him and fear Him. Jesus wasn’t hated because He was evil or sinned; He was hated because He was good and lived a life of perfect love and goodness. If people responded to the goodness of Jesus this way, it’s likely they will at times respond to the good we do in similar ways (John 15:20).

Doing what is good doesn’t necessarily lead to instant gratification.

Often, there is a lot of work before there are any results. Have you ever set a goal to lose a few pounds and get in shape, but as you watch what you eat and head to the gym several times a week, nothing seems to change? It gets discouraging, and it’s easy to throw in the towel. What’s the point, right? We might as well have the slice of cake and watch a movie. It can feel similarly when we choose to do what is good over and over and over again without seeing the fruit of our efforts. I place much of parenting in this category.

The cares of this world deplete our energy and stifle our desire to do good. 

It is incredibly easy to get distracted and overwhelmed by the pressures, cares, and temptations of this world. I know this is often the case for me. Being so weighed down with this life, I forget to give much thought to the next life or to the lives happening around me. There are many opportunities to do good in my own home, for the neighbors surrounding me, at the church where He’s placed me, in the community where I live, and the circles I run in. It is simply a matter of being heavenly-minded enough to notice. I can get so involved with life in this world, I forget I’m to be living for another world.

As I was thinking about what tempts me to grow weary in doing good, I started to ask the question: What makes doing good, putting yourself out there, taking on extra burdens or projects, and making sacrifices worth it?

We should do what is good because God is good.

When God originally created the world, He created it good (Genesis 1:31). When we do what is good, we give testimony that God exists, that His kingdom is real, and that His way is right. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:16 to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven. The light we shine is our good works and our good works point people to the glory of our Father in heaven.

Good works are a matter of obedience.

There is a certain way God wants His people to live, certain things their lives should be marked by such as mercy, justice, faithfulness, humility, truth, hope, and love, etc. In Matthew 22:37-38, Jesus summed up God’s instructions to us in this way,

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Real love never stops at lip service but always displays itself in actions. It may seem like doing good out of obedience to God is insincere, but obedience is more than mere duty when it flows from love: God’s love for us, and in response, our love for God.

Obeying a good Father is a joy. That doesn’t mean the circumstances surrounding the obedience are necessarily a joy. There will be times when we do what is good because it is right and not because we necessarily feel like doing good, but even in this case, it is God’s love for us and our love for God that motivates the sincerity of our actions even if all the other feelings haven’t lined up, yet. It is God’s love for us that fuels our desire to do good.

We will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t quit.

This is the motivation given to us for doing good in Galatians 6:9. Deeds are like seeds that we plant. We can choose to plant deeds to the flesh or deeds to the Spirit. We can’t control everything about the soil, about the weather, about the locusts, or the time of harvest, these things must be left to God’s plan and timing, but we can decide which seeds to plant.

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8 

Is God saying that if we live to please the Spirit we earn eternal life? No, eternal life is by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but a life lived to the Spirit is evidence of the indwelling of the Spirit (John 14:16-17) who is God’s seal upon His people (Ephesians 1:13-14).

As James tells us, faith without works is dead (James 2:14-18). This is because faith without works is faith without the Spirit. A dead faith can expect to reap corruption; a living faith can expect to reap eternal life. Every good deed planted to the Spirit will, in due season, reap the blessing. If not here, then in the world to come.

Paul tells us whenever we have the opportunity we should do good to everyone, but especially to those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ, our family of faith (Galatians 6:10). We are to exclude no one but to prefer some. If we should do good to all, then how much more to the body of Christ, our body?

I’m so thankful for the various times my family has faced trials and a Christian sister or brother has prayed for us, brought us a meal, listened over coffee, sent a scripture via text, etc. These things may seem relatively small, but to us, they meant the world. These were opportunities to do good that other Christians didn’t miss.

When I do grow weary of doing good, the answer isn’t to cease planting, it’s to push into the strength of God and the rest that is mine through Christ’s finished work on my behalf (Matthew 11:28-30). I wait on God as I sow to the Spirit. I look to Him for strength, for hope, and for affirmation. As I look to Him, I will find my strength renewed. I will find I can run and not be weary; I can walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

There are times when doing what is good is a joy; there are other times it is really hard, but the day of harvest is coming, and even those who have sown to the Spirit in tears will reap in joy (Psalm 126). Let’s not give up!

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness,
Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve;
Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

Going forth with weeping, sowing for the Master,
Tho’ the loss sustained our spirit often grieves;
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.

-Knowles Shaw, Bringing in the Sheaves

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