Galatians 6:1-18: Weary In Doing Good?

July 1, 2018

Ray Galea

We now come to the last chapter in the book of Galatians. Seriously, this is the most anti-religious document in the world. The grace of God is intolerant to anyone who teaches that good works play any part in saving us. But as we come to the end of the book of Galatians there are two concerns that I have.

 

The first is that our vision at MBM is to see lives transformed through Christ Jesus to the glory of God. But we must never think that the transformation of our lives justifies us. That would steal God’s glory, for he alone is our saviour. And it would be a burden we could not carry.

 

My wife Sandy took her drama group to a local restaurant to work on the script for the July holiday club. The waiter shared his view of how you get saved, that “God comes halfway to us, and we come halfway to God”. That is what the false teachers were teaching in the churches of Galatia. They taught that Jesus died for them, but you have to finish off the job by relying on the law to be saved. God does his bit and we do ours. But Sandy said to her waiter, “No! God comes all the way to us at the cross to pay for all our sins. He did it all.”

 

The second concern that I have is that some may think that since we are justified by faith alone in Christ, then we can leave good works alone. No, no, no! Justified people live transformed lives. Galatians 5:6 teaches us that our freedom in Christ is not a license to sin but a privilege to serve. The gift of forgiveness and the Holy Spirit are given that we may do good, Galatians 6:9:

 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (NIV)

 

We can become weary in doing good for three reasons. The first is because we are relying on the law of God. The second is that we think that we are God, and that we are doing too much. The third is that there is an internal battle between the Spirit and the flesh. This is a battle that in this age never ends for those who walk by the Spirit. We have left sin behind, but sin has not left us behind. It’s always biting at our heels. So Paul says in Galatians 6:9:

 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (NIV)

 

So what is the ‘good’ we are not to become weary in doing? What does the new found freedom look like?

 

Paul in Galatians talks about ‘doing good’ in different ways. He uses parallel ideas to describe the good. So he speaks of “faith expressing itself through love” (Gal 5:6), which is the same as “keeping in step with the Spirit” (Gal 5:25), which is equal to “fulfilling the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2), which is equivalent to “sowing to please the Spirit” (Gal 6:8), which is parallel to “do good to all people” (Gal 6:10).

 

So in Christ we are not under the law of God but we are empowered to fulfill the law of Christ by the Spirit of God. We are justified by faith alone but the faith that justifies is never alone. It always cuddles up to do good works. Martin Luther said, “Truly, if faith is there, the believer cannot hold back … he breaks out into good works…” We are now a new creation. We have Spirit-led desires to love God and love others.

 

When I was recently in Malta, one relative asked me about the difference between what I believe and what they believe? I said that “For you, heaven is like a wage for a life lived well. For us, heaven is a gift unearned and undeserved. Jesus did it all.” So she said to me, “So we can do whatever we want!” I thought later that it shows that the reason religious people do good works is to manipulate God. They obey him not because they love him. They obey him because they want to avoid going to bad place and get on his wrong side. That is not love!

 

When you are justified by faith alone, you are free to love God and others because you want to.

 

Let’s see how this chapter answers the questions of what is the good that we are set free to do.

 

(1) The good of carrying each other’s burdens (v. 2)

 

The first ‘good’ is that we are set free to do the good of carrying each other’s burden, Galatians 6:2:

 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV)

 

There is no faithful Christian who lives a solo Christian life. The one who carried our sins in his body wants us to carry each other’s burdens. The false teachers put the Christian under the burden of the law, but the Spirit of God empowers us to carry the burdens of others. This is a call for everyone, not just pastors. Pastoral care is everyone’s responsibility and not just the pastor’s. It is why our growth groups are so important.

 

I could tell you a bunch a stories of how we are not doing it well. I am very mindful we have a long way to go.

 

Over the years I’ve seen a number of you who stand with and stand up for others in church, protecting and giving a voice to the powerless at great person cost, and often when no one else would speak up for them. Your father in heaven is pleased.

 

One recent example is Mark Pointer, who busted his heel in a basketball game. He was unable to work for months. He said to me that he had been so well cared for by his growth group and many others from MBM. Mark and Jeaneeta were given meals, given crutches, lifts to church, lifts to doctors, prayers, loving emails, thoughtful texts, visits at home, visits in the hospital, someone even visited Mark to play Xbox, and through it all they only missed one growth group, and then when Mark heard another brother at church who busted his foot, he then made contact with him.

 

I’m not saying this happens all the time. It doesn’t. But it’s a picture of what can be as we do life together in our growth groups.

 

But sometimes that love takes the form of a correction.

 

(2) The good of restoring another in Christ (v. 1)

 

The second ‘good’ is the good of restoring someone in Christ, Galatians 6:1:

 

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (NIV)

 

The one caught in sin is not to be left alone. But first, make sure it is sin that you correct, and it is not just a difference in opinion. Second, your posture toward them is to restore not to punish. The word for ‘restore’ is a medical term for setting a fractured or dislocated bone. Don’t rebuke a person who has repented. And you do it by the fruit of the Spirit that includes gentleness. That gentleness will be seen in the tone of voice you adopt. It involves a posture of humility, mindful that you are a sinner saved by grace, and correcting another sinner saved by grace. The warning here is that there is a risk involved in correcting another person in Christ. There is danger in restoring someone in Christ, Galatians 6:1b:

 

Restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (NIV)

 

Your eye is as much on yourself as it is on them. Watch yourself! It’s so easy to turn their sin into my sin. In what way might you be tempted? Maybe you will be tempted to do the same sin. Most of all, you will be tempted to think that you are better than they, and that you don’t need the forgiveness of Jesus as much as they. That is why Paul says in Galatians 6:3:

 

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. (NIV)

 

Pride is never far away. “Do not think of yourself more highly than your ought.” That is what justification by faith alone teaches us. Without Christ, none of us will inherit eternal life. Be careful friends that in pinpointing other people’s failures you are not completely blind to your own. The danger is that we either are envying each other or provoking each other. We are forever tempted to compare and contrast and to measure our spiritual performance with others. Before long our sails are filled with the wind of self righteousness, Galatians 6:4:

 

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. (NIV)

 

The line I’ve always loved is that “I may not be what you want me to be, I may not be what God wants to me to be, but I know I’m not what I used to be.” Keep an eye on what God is doing in your life. Keep doing ‘PBs’—personal bests. So yes, be concerned for others, but take responsibility for your own Christian life.

 

(3) The good of carrying our own load (v. 5)

 

The third ‘good’ is that of carrying our own load, Galatians 6:5:

 

for each one should carry their own load. (NIV)

 

There comes a time when you have to realize that no one can live your Christian life for you. There are a set of good works prepared in advance by God for you to do, and only you can do them. No one can forgive others who have sinned against you. No one can do your own personal prayer and Bible reading for you. No one can carry your own load. We can only carry our load because our burdens were already carried by Christ at the cross, Galatians 6:9:

 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

(4) The good of sharing all good things with your instructor (v. 6)

 

One of the good things to be done, and one of the burdens to carry, is me. This is the good of sharing all good things with your instructor, Galatians 6:6:

 

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.

 

I do good to you by teaching you the word of God and when I open up the word, guess what I find? That the word says that it is your responsibility before God to financially support those who teach you and your family. There is a ‘must’. If you are not a Christian, we don’t want your money. But if you have come to Christ and made MBM your home, it’s your privilege and your responsibility to share what you earn with those who share what they learn to feed your soul. Keep doing your own PB excel in giving. Elsewhere Paul tells us to excel in the grace of giving. Are you more generous this year than last year? Are you doinga PB?

 

I love listening to great swimmers who often talk about how when they were young, they may have lost every race, but their goal was always to do a ‘PB’, a personal best. That way you are comparing yourself with yourself. So I thank God that for over 28 years we have never had to let go of one staff member because we could not afford them. That is the result of your obedience to this verse.

 

Earlier I mentioned what my relative said to me, that “If Jesus did it all, we can sin all we like.” Normally I say that the person who has been forgiven much loves much. But I like what Paul says here. His answer is, “Do you think God is an idiot?”, Galatians 6:7-8:

 

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (NIV)

 

The good of sowing to please the Spirit is not an option. Jesus is clear that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of God, but only he who does the will of my Father.” If Christ is Lord and his Spirit dwells in you, you will sow to the Spirit and you will reap eternal life. And so our good works are the fruit of pleasing the Spirit. Such good works are not the reason why we are saved but the evidence of a true and living faith in Christ. Our good works are like fruit on a tree. Apples on a tree tell you it’s an apple tree. Oranges on a tree tell you its an orange tree. Your good works in Christ tell you that you are a child of Abraham, a son of God, that you are justified by faith alone in Christ alone empowered by the Spirit of God and showing that you will inherit eternal life. Galatians 6:9:

 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

 

Don’t give up! Don’t become tired of doing good, of loving others in your small group, being generous to your pastors, gently correcting a brother in sin, pleasing God, serving in a ministry, being salt and light at work and study, and gathering weekly to praise God.

 

If you are wondering whether to join a growth group, the answer is ‘yes’. You will have no better opportunity to do good to the household of faith than in a growth group. We are better together. Keep at it. The first 50 years are the hardest. It’s so worth it.

 

(5) Do good to all people especially the family of believers (v. 10)

 

The last ‘good’ in which we must not grow weary is found in Galatians 6:10:

 

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)

 

We are told to do good to all, and not just for friends but strangers, including enemies. It’s not just believers but non believers to whom you you are called to do good. The obligation is “as you have opportunity”. You can’t be everything for everyone. There are limits. We do set boundaries because we are not God. But notice that the priority is for the family of believers. The believers ought to have your special attention.

 

Conclusion

 

Never has the church of God been assaulted by sheer neglect by Christians. The church in the western world is now coming a poor fifth as we worship our weekends, our house renovations, our children`s sport, our jobs, our studies, and our blood family instead of Christ and his family. Remember we are the new creation, and children of Abraham. We are true Israel of God. We are the people of God, who are drenched in good works but who never trust in any of those good works for the forgiveness of sins. May we only boast in the cross of Christ and grace of God.

 

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters” (Galatians 6:18).

 

Amen.