Doing good for others can grow old. Doing the right things can become tiring, especially when you do not see any tangible results, and especially when it seems like the people who do not do the right things are the ones actually achieving success. In the final chapter of his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote to Christians who were tempted to go back to their old way of doing things and give up doing the right thing. They were growing tired of supporting the church, helping the weak, bearing with one another’s burdens and doing good in the lives of those closest to them. It all seemed like a waste of time. So Paul wrote to encourage their hearts by giving them an ordinary agricultural metaphor to understand how to achieve extraordinary biblical success.
Reaping a harvest
Paul compared success in life to reaping a harvest, and the everyday choices, decisions and attitudes of Christians to seeds being sown in the field of life. And he uses the metaphor of sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting to teach and encourage the church to persevere in doing good. So how do you reap a harvest in the field of work that you’re in? You remember that the little things matter. After all, what are seeds? Small things that make a big difference. And farmers do not plant the seeds one day and then reap the crop the next day. The farmer can be as obedient and as faithful as he needs to be, plowing the field and planting the seeds, but he never instantly sees the harvest. It takes time. Paul’s point is that Christians, like farmers, will reap a harvest by not growing weary and not giving up.
Do not grow weary
Everyone gets physically weary, but nothing compares to the weariness of spirit. This is why Paul wrote, “And let us not grow weary of doing good.” The Greek word that Paul uses for being weary means “to lose spirit.” It means to lose the spirit of joy and hope that you once had in the beginning. And what’s the reason for not growing weary in well doing? He continued, “For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9b). Notice, Paul did not say, “Instantly you will reap,” but rather, “At the proper time.” Doing good often does not produce immediate results. This is where weariness can set it – in the waiting.
There was once a desperate mother who came to her pastor and said, “Where did I go wrong? I tried to set a good example and be the best mother I could, but I’m afraid my son is lost. He’s living a reckless life and no longer believes in the Bible. What can I do?” “You can pray,” the Pastor said. “But, I do pray! I pray for him every day, and I have prayed for him since he was a baby. What more can I do?” “Pray and wait,” he said. And she did, but things only grew worse. Her son soon became one of the leading critics of Christianity in their city, and no Christian theologian or scholar could match her son in a debate. But the mother followed the pastor’s words. She kept praying and waiting. And then one day, at age 33, the son who had publically fought against the Christian faith, came under the power of God’s word and was instantly converted. He confessed his sins in tears, and believed that Jesus Christ had died for his sins and rose again to forgive him. He ran to tell his mother, “I’m a Christian! I believe!” But no one in the city could believe it. There was simply no explanation for what had happened. But there was: the sowing of a mother’s prayers. The simple seeds of prayer had come into the season of harvest.
The year was 386 AD. The city was Milan, Italy. The mother was Monica, and the son was none other than St. Augustine. St. Augustine, who would become one of the greatest defenders of the Christian faith. Like a farmer who sows seeds and then waits for the harvesting season, the Christian must sow the seeds of love and good deeds and wait for the due season. That season may come here on earth or in eternity, but it will come. The end of weariness is not the end of waiting; it’s understanding that the waiting is an important part of the process. In our culture that demands instant gratification, waiting can be a challenge to achieving biblical success, but like a farmer, you must work with faithfulness and wait with patience.
Do not give up
The second thing that Paul says is to not give up. And what is the motivation for not giving up? The promise of reaping. Paul does not say, “You may reap;” he says, “You will reap if you do not give up.” This is the promise-driven life – a life driven by God’s promise that you will reap what you sow. Often that proverb is taken to be just a warning, but it is also meant to be an encouragement. It is a good thing that you reap what you sow, if you are sowing good things. All the prayers, love, mercy, patience and good deeds that no one else sees may seem meaningless, they may seem in vain, but they are not. The harvest is certain, and the harvest is coming. Paul was writing about the relationship between your work and God’s promise, between your responsibility and God’s sovereignty. Your work is to sow the good; God’s promise is to grow the good. You sow it and God will grow it. The harvest is not based on what you know; it is based on what you sow. Keep going and keep sowing! Do not grow weary, and do not give up!