Not Weary in Well-doing

October 5, 2003 / No. 3170

Dear radio friends,

The Bible was written with us in mind.  It was written with your particular circumstances in life in mind.  We can never say that the Scriptures do not help us, that they do not know, that they do not visualize this problem or this situation that we are facing.  They are written by the Holy Spirit with us in mind.

That is especially true of the New Testament epistles of the apostle Paul.  These epistles are not to be viewed as abstract, religious theses on theological questions submitted for a doctorate in the University of Jerusalem.  These epistles were written to Christians, to churches, to people of God — written to be the light of God and the balm for their soul.

This is especially the case in the verse that we find in Galatians 6:9, where we read, “And let us not be weary in well-doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  In that Word of God the Scriptures are confronting us with the very serious and very common spiritual sin of becoming weary in well-doing.  Here we have a people who are pointed in the right direction.  We could not say that they were on the wrong road.  But they had become weary, tired, hopeless, and fatalistic.  They were shuffling along, doing the right things alright, but doing them with drooping heads and hands.  The Christian work that they had in the home and in the church and in their own personal life had become a burden.  And you heard many sighs of weariness.  A certain resignation you could see in them.  They began to withdraw themselves emotionally from the work.  Frustration was evident.

You could not say that the people had ceased from the work.  The church was attended, the minister was making his sermons, the elders and deacons were doing their work, the prayers were offered, the laundry was done, the dishes were cleaned, and the beds were made.  But due to difficulties and sins, the vigor of the Christian life had escaped them, and a certain fatalism, a resignation, and a hopelessness was characterizing them.

Is that true of you?   Let us bring our souls under the rebuke and under the balm of the Word of God, which is written to us and which so well knows us and searches us out.  The exhortation of God is “Do not be weary in well-doing.”

There is a great temptation, is there not, for those who are blessed to do the work of the Lord Jesus, to become weary in well-doing.  We are prone to give in and to give up in doing good.  What is meant here by “well-doing”?  The idea is not humanitarian relief.  It refers to the work that Christ calls His people to do in His name.  We read in Ephesians 2:10 that we are “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  We were saved by grace alone in order that we might live a life of well-doing.

There is a great temptation for those
who are blessed to do the work of the Lord Jesus,
to become weary in well-doing.

     And that well-doing is vast.  It covers all of our life and it covers every child of God, from the oldest to the youngest.  It is our entire life as we are to live that life now out of the life of Jesus Christ.

In the context, the apostle Paul has in mind our church life (read the previous verses of Galatians 6).  He has been referring to the communion of saints and to our calling to go to a man who has been overtaken in a fault and restore such a one in the spirit of meekness.  He has exhorted us in the church to bear one another’s burdens.  And he has told us that we must do this in all humility.  He has referred to the work of the minister.  He speaks of him in verse 6, of the man who is taught in the word to communicate to all the people of God that living Word of God.

Now, when the apostle says, “Don’t be weary in well-doing,” he is not referring just to a few people, but he is referring to all the people of God.  He is not referring just to giving things to the poor, but he is referring to our whole life as we are to live that life out of Jesus Christ.  Does he refer to the work of elder or deacon in your church?  Yes.  But mothers in the home and fathers, too, as they bring up their children, as they go to work to support their family.  Our church life is included.  Our marriages are included.  And all the deeds of thoughtfulness and kindness that we are to do in His name.  Witnessing to the gospel and pursuing the evangelism call of the church.   All of these things are well-doing.

Literally, we could translate this “beauty work.”  Do not be weary in beauty work.  That is a very powerful word of God because there we see that apart from God every doing, every act, and every deed is darkness.  Apart from the beauty of God’s grace working first in our heart, every work that is performed on the earth, the Bible says, is ugly, smelly, soiled in pride.  But there is beauty.  And that beauty comes from God alone.  It is the beauty of His grace when He works through His people in Jesus Christ.  It is that which does not then come out of self, that which is not rooted in self, but that which is of grace in us.  That is beauty work.  And even though now those works, too, are shot through with our own sin, yet God smiles because He sees in that work His wonderful grace.  Now do not be weary in beauty work.

Further, we learn that this well-doing is synonymous with sowing to the Spirit.  Look at verses 7 and 8 and see that the Word of God has set down a principle for everyone.  There we have read, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  There are only two possibilities.  One is either sowing, in his life, to his destruction, or he is sowing in his life to life eternal.  The Word of God says that there is  absolute correspondence between what is sowed and what shall be reaped.  You do not sow one thing and expect to reap another thing.  So the Word of God is asking us, “What are you sowing in your life?  Are you sowing out of your flesh, or are you sowing out of the Spirit of Christ?  If you sow out of your flesh, you are going to reap corruption.   If you sow by the Spirit of Christ, by grace you receive a reward of life eternal.

Are you sowing greed in your life as a father?  Then the Word of God says, “Don’t expect contentment but expect a constricted heart, and anxious nights, and narrow eyes.”  Are you sowing gossip in your church?  Do you talk about others?  Then do not expect peace and love in your church or in your marriage or family.  But you shall harvest division and tension.  Are you, as a young man, sowing lust through pornography in your life?   Then do not expect that you are ever going to be satisfied if God gives you a wife.  What you sow you shall also reap.

So, well-doing, then, is to be understood as that work of the Spirit of Christ whereby we sow looking for the life that is to come, that we might have an abundant harvest then.

But you understand that that well-doing is very hard, it is very difficult, it is continuous, it is never-ending.   And this is really, I believe, the point of the apostle.  You do not see the fruit of this kind of work quickly.  Because that is the case, we become discouraged and our souls begin to sag.  You say to me, “Are you telling me that my work as a mother is beauty-work?  Are you trying to mock me?  Have you ever seen my house on a Monday morning?  It’s upside-down.  Beauty-work with my child?  I yell at my child.   How can that be beauty-work?”  “Beauty-work in our marriage” you say to me?  “Well, that’s hard work!”  And maybe you say, “It’s never going to change.  Our marriage is not going to change.  He’s not going to change.  We’re just going to have to resign ourselves to have to live with it.  We give up.”

Maybe you say that in the church.  You say, “I’ve tried to be active in the communion of the saints.  I’ve tried to have people over to my house.  There is no reciprocation.  Beauty-work?  I’ve been hurt in the church!”  Maybe as an elder you say to me, “Pastor, you’re calling our work beauty-work, but in the church it seems that the problems are greater than anywhere else!”  And maybe personally you say, “I’m weary.  I can’t seem to get out of the doldrums.  The spiritual resilience has departed from my life because of obstacles, because of the sins of others, because of my own sins.  I’m tempted to say, ‘Well, if that’s the way they’re going to be, see if I care!’”

So often we find ourselves then settling down into the routine.  The earlier days of fresh spiritual vigor are a distant dream.  We become discouraged and we become tempted to withdraw from doing good — in church, in marriage, in family, in our personal life.  We begin to multiply obstacles and magnify obstacles and say, “We can’t do that!”  We are ready to quit.  And we would, if we could find a good excuse for doing so.

That is a great danger — to become weary in well-doing.  It is a great danger because it is going to lead to hopelessness.  Then, perhaps, we do not quit the work.  We continue doing the good things that we are supposed to be doing, but we do not have the heart for it.  We do not have a heart anymore for our marriage, for our family, for our church, for our personal walk with Christ, for witnessing.  It all becomes a duty that we simply resign ourselves to, and we go through the motions.   And a voice begins to speak within you.   It says, “Give up, give way, give in.   You’re weary, you’re not appreciated.  It’s too much for you to do this.”  And we begin to think that we are some kind of martyr.  Even though we do not have it in our hearts, we go on and say, “Well, I’m just going to do it, even though I don’t care any more.”  Is that the way you are?

Or if it does not lead to hopelessness, then perhaps you are going to turn to some kind of artificial stimulus.   You begin to look for something to carry you along.  Perhaps you say, “Alcohol will give me a temporary feeling of well-being — even though the problems remain.  Those problems are too hard, so I’m going to medicate myself — with other interests, hobbies, some place to put my heart.”

This is what is going on in the church, too.  The church, today, is saying, “Well, preaching the Reformed faith and holding the distinctives of the gospel just don’t do it.  The church doesn’t grow.  So we have to work up new methods.  We need artificial stimulants.  We need a program for youth.  We need to put up signs in front of church — some kind of advertisement to get people to come into the church.  We’re in a rut.  Religion needs something new.  We’ve grown weary of the work of the Lord.  We don’t think that preaching and teaching the gospel is going to do it.  We don’t believe that the nitty-gritty of Christian fellowship, of saints rubbing off on each other — that this is going to work.  We need an artificial stimulant.”  The only problem with artificial stimulants is this:  though they appear so plausible to our flesh, they only end up in exhausting us much more and making us addicted.

The Lord says, “Do not be weary in well-doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  Now that is encouragement.  The encouragement is really a rebuke, first of all.  Let us not be weary in well-doing!  That is the work of the Lord.  That is what the Lord says to you.  He says, “Why are you weary?  Why are you half-hearted in My work?  Why are you tempted to quit?  Have you been doing My work in your own strength instead of the power of My Spirit?  You think that it depends upon you?  You think that if it does not turn out the way you want, it has failed?   Is that how you are rearing your kids?   Do you think that by your strength you are going to make them turn out?  Is that why you are weary?  You think you have to figure everything out and be in control of the outcome?  You are doing it in your strength?  Well then, you ought to be weary!

“Why are you doing this good?” the Lord asks.  “Are you doing it to please yourself?  Are you doing it to be able to say, ‘How wonderful I am.  Look at how much I do’?  Do you want the praise and the glory for those things?  Then,” the Lord says, “examine yourself.  Why are you weary?  It is well-doing.   Weary in well-doing?”

It is the blessed work that Christ has given us to do.  It is not a dreary task.  When we begin to look at our Christian life and our Christian work and calling as a dreary task, we are insulting God!  It is a sin!   The work the Lord has given to us is not drab.  It is not ho-hum!   It is the life of the Son of God in us.   It is the only work that matters on the earth.  It came to us of grace!  Why are you doing it?  Are you doing it wearily, because you have to?  Is that why you show patience with your wife?  Is that why you care for your children?  Is that why you witness of the gospel to others?  Is that why you come to church — because you have to?  Is it all drudgery to you at the bottom line?  Do you not really care about it, do you not want to do it?  Then God says this to you and to me:  “You insult Me.  You sneer at the wonder of My grace and love.”  Whoever told you that you were to do these things merely out of external constraint, dropping down your hands all the while and sighing in your heart?  God never told you to do that!  This is your privilege — a wonderful privilege of God to do it all.  If your Christian life has become weariness and burdensome, and the calling you have in home or church or marriage is a weariness to you, you had better go back.  You must retrace your steps to where that all started and you must understand that you are what you are by the grace of God.  Therefore, you must do it out of great thankfulness, not weariness.

When we begin to look at our Christian life
and our Christian work and calling
as a dreary task, we are insulting God!  

     Then the Lord encourages us.  He says that we shall reap in due season, if we faint not.  The Lord is saying to us that all the work that is done in His Name is not a fruitless work.   There shall come a great harvest — a harvest that God already has in mind and has attained already through His Son.  You see, there is nothing that so produces a weary spirit in us as a suspicion that all that we are doing is for nothing.  And there is nothing that so dispels that weariness and infuses strength into our soul as to know that, for as much as our labor is in the Lord, it is not in vain.   It will be crowned with success.  Every act that we do in His name, every duty of service, every sacrifice made, every privation to which we submit, all of these things shall be recompensed abundantly.  We shall reap in due season, if we faint not.

One day, says the apostle, your eye shall behold all that God has intended to accomplish through our weak and sinful efforts.  And when that harvest comes, in that day of the Lord when we shall see all that He has worked through our sinful labors in the home and in the church, in marriage and in the family, when we see what God is going to bring out of it, we will shake our heads and we will wonder why we ever thought about giving up.  We will be ashamed of thinking that it was not worth it.  So glorious will be that harvest that if we had to go through it all again and do all the work all over again, we would be ready to undergo a hundred times more difficulty and trial.   In the face of such a harvest there shall be abundant sheaves, rich glory, all of God.

When we see what God is going to bring out of it,
we will shake our heads and we will wonder
why we ever thought about giving up.

     And we shall rejoice with Him.  We shall reap in due season if we faint not.  But hear the Word.   We shall reap in due season, in God’s time.  The results of the work are not immediate, because God wishes to show that it is entirely of His grace and wisdom.  It is not for us to regulate the time and the seasons.  The harvest will be abundant.  It is enough for us to know that.  But when that harvest shall be seen, that is of the Lord — in due season, in God’s time.  We are just like little children, you see.  We are just like little children in our Christian labor.   Do you remember when you were a first or second grader?  Perhaps your teacher wanted to teach us about seeds and how they germinate and we would get the Styrofoam cups and the potting soil and the bean seeds.  Our teacher chose the bean seed because it is one of the quickest sprouting seeds.   Then you remember that we planted those bean seeds in the cups and would water them and would look for that sprout to come up, and it didn’t come up that day.  When we came back to school the next day, it was still not up.  Then we lost interest in it because it did not happen quick enough.  That is the way we are.  Let God veil His face.  Let God lead us in a way we cannot figure out.  Let God spend plenty of time preparing the soil … and we lose heart.  We want results; we want our results; and we want our results now.  And we say, “Lord, if this is the way it’s going to be, then I’m not interested.  I give up.  I want the fruit now.”

The Lord says that in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  The Lord says, “You don’t know what the Lord will bring from the seeds that are planted.”  As you teach your little child his Bible story, as you witness to another, as you are busily engaged in the very often difficult work of the Lord in your marriage, you don’t know what the Lord will bring from it.  But I tell you this, that in harvest time, you will come with your hands full with sheaves, rejoicing in God.  We shall reap in due season, if we faint not.

To faint means that we would give in to our weariness.  We would pass out, we would lose consciousness, we would succumb to our weariness.  Then when we faint, we are not conscious.  We do not see anymore what the Lord is doing.  We need to have the water of the Word of God splashed upon our face.   And we need to hear again:  “in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  Our labor is not in vain in the Lord.  So let us be up to the work.  Let no obstacle deter us.  Let no disappointment distinguish our hope.  Let no trial find us unwilling.  Let no sacrifice be too much to your work as a husband and wife in your marriage; to your work as a father and mother in your family; to your work as a young person, minister, elder, deacon, or church member; to the work that the Lord has given to you.

And when you are tempted to be weary, then remember His Word:  “I am with you till the end of the world.  In due season you shall reap with Me.”

Let us not be weary in well-doing.

Let us pray.

Father in heaven, bless Thy Word to our hearts this day.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.