Galatians 6:9 – And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Welcome back readers! We are in the middle of the final exhortations of Paul to the churches in Galatia. We just examined verses 8-9, in which Paul lays out some very clear and far reaching spiritual principles.
Paul has revealed to the Galatians that whatever a person sows/plants, that shall he also reap. We noted that this principle applied to the immediate context of the chapter which was support of the local church. We also noted that God’s laws of sowing and reaping apply to every aspect of life (spiritual and temporal). Verse 9 applies to both as well.
Let us not grow weary in doing good – Sometimes, we grow weary. Let’s face it: There is a lot of opposition to Christian views, ideas and plans. There are countless people to be won to Christ. There is an overwhelming need in the world for food, clothing, medical care, etc. And often there is a lot of ingratitude in those who benefit from our charity. At times the problems of our day seem so immense and overwhelming, that we can become weary. We can be tempted to just ‘walk away’ from the needs of the world and focus on our own lives and families.
The truth is that if we try to meet these needs within our own abilities, we will fail. We will certainly become discouraged, run out of resources, lose our patience and simply give up.
But if we walk according to the Spirit, our heavenly Father will make it possible for us to continue in the ways of righteousness.
- He has unlimited strength (Isaiah 40:31).
- He has unlimited resources (Haggai 2:8, Psalms 50:10).
- He has unlimited wisdom for solving problems (I Kings 4:29, Ecclesiastics 2:26).
- He is the one who pours out his Spirit to convict sinners and bring them to Christ (John 16:8).
And He is eager to give us all that we need to be victorious in this world.
If you are experiencing ‘combat fatigue’ in your Christian walk, take some R&R time – shut yourself away with God and let him renew you!
For in due season–Again, we find that God’s spiritual law is plainly evident in the physical realm. We all know that if we plant peas, there is a season of waiting before the vegetables are ready for harvest. If you actually read a packet of garden seeds, it will tell you the approximate number of ‘days until maturity’, or the average time it takes to reap a harvest.
So it is with good works/loving our neighbor/doing God’s will. We sow as we are able and as God leads. We may not see much happening, but we can be sure that God has an appointed time for the harvest to manifest. That harvest may manifest itself here on earth, or we may not see it until we get to heaven. But either way, God rewards those who sow into his kingdom.
We will reap if we do not give up – Do you see the significance of this part of the verse? We are guaranteed a harvest. In the natural realm, that doesn’t always happen. Any number of factors (drought, floods, extreme temperatures, pests, etc) can rob a farmer of his entire harvest.
But in God’s economy, our efforts always produce results. Every time you pray for revival, seek a move of Holy Spirit, weep before the Lord for the problems of our nation, use your money to spread the gospel, help the needy, love your neighbor, etc, you are sowing to the Spirit. And you WILL reap a harvest, either in this life or the life to come. The key is not to give up – to stay in faith until you receive the promise.
The scriptures are full of wonderful examples of this principle. Let’s examine one of my favorites – the case of Caleb.
As you know, he and Joshua were the only two spies who believed that God would give Israel the Promised Land. They sowed seeds of faith and victory into their community and into their own lives. After Israel rebelled against God, it appeared as though Caleb would not reap anything for his efforts. But, hallelujah, that was not the case! God preserved Caleb for 45 years, until he could reap his harvest!
Joshua 14:10 – And now, behold, the LORD has kept me [Caleb] alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spoke this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.
Can you imagine waiting 45 years for a harvest? Do you think that Caleb had plenty of opportunities to quit? To complain? To become weary? To be bitter? To believe he was too old? You bet he did!
But he didn’t give up, and he didn’t give in, despite the appearance of his circumstances. He stayed in faith, knowing that you can never lose a harvest in God’s economy – eventually, in due season, you will reap.
Joshua 14:12 – Now therefore give me [Caleb] this mountain, of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
Joshua 15:14 – And Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.
Caleb is an excellent example of a person who understood that he would reap his harvest in due season, if he didn’t give up. If you haven’t read his story in a while, check it out in Joshua chapters 14-15. What other biblical examples of ‘not giving up’ can you think of? How about some examples in your own life, or the life of someone you know?
Galatians 6:10 – So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
There are several truths apparent in this verse:
God does not expect any one person to meet the needs of the entire human race. Instead, he will present every believer (including you) with distinct opportunities to do good.
You can expect these opportunities to pop up all throughout your life. They may come at unexpected times, or in unexpected places, so be on the alert for them, because they are coming!
As we all know, it is possible to miss an opportunity. For example, the children of Israel missed their original opportunity to take the Promised Land.
Numbers 14:22-23 –Because all those men who have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness…and have not hearkened to my voice;Surely they shall not see the land which I swore to give unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
I am sure that was a missed opportunity that they regretted for the rest of their lives. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want any missed opportunities in my life. So pay attention to the Spirit! Maintain an intimate, ongoing relationship with him. If we are living by the Spirit, and we are actively looking for occasions to do good, he will direct us to the specific opportunities that have been set aside for us to accomplish.
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.
Do you remember the New Testament parable of the good Samaritan? If not, you can refresh your memory in Luke 10:30-35. In this parable, a priest and a Levite both missed the opportunity to do good to the Samaritan, because they didn’t consider him to be their ‘neighbor’. They didn’t realize that representatives of God should be doing good to ALL men.
In our case, we need to be aware that we could be called upon to do good to literally any man or woman on the planet. This might include an adversary; someone who has belittled, bullied or mocked us for our faith; someone we don’t think is deserving of help; someone of the opposite political party; someone with different religious beliefs; an illegal alien; or even a person caught up in sin. It isn’t our job to judge. If Holy Spirit leads you to an opportunity, take it!
When opportunity knocks, don’t hesitate – open the door immediately! If God has spoken to you about doing a good work don’t put it off until a time that seems convenient for you, or when it most benefits you, or when you get the most recognition for it. Timing may be of the essence in the situation; we should always be ready to do the will of God immediately.
We should especially watch out for opportunities to minister to our Christian brothers and sisters.
Since God has made it our duty to do good to others, he will make sure we have the opportunities to do it – so watch for them.
Galatians 6:11 (ESV) – See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.
Honestly, it’s kind of funny how the smallest or most obscure verse can cause such a difference of opinion among scholars!
This is one of those verses. Let’s compare the translation above (English Standard Version) with the King James Version:
Galatians 6:11 (KJV) – Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
Now, compare the two verses and ask yourself this question: What does the word ‘large’ refer to? Is it the actual size of the writing in the letter, or does it refer to the length of the letter itself?
Apparently, it can be interpreted either way in the original Greek. But no matter which interpretation you favor, the meaning is substantially the same.
Paul has written this letter himself. This was not his normal method of operation. Usually, he dictated his letters, only signing them at the end (Romans 16:22), or sometimes personally writing the salutation of the letter (1 Corinthians 16:21).
By writing the entire epistle himself, he proves to the Galatians that this letter is genuine. Not only that, it shows the great care and concern he felt for them. Let’s be honest – Paul has a lot going on in his life. He bears the responsibility of caring for ALL the churches. Can you imagine the enormous number of distractions, problems and endeavors he was involved in? And these were aside from his main duties to travel around, start new churches, preach the gospel and contend with the Jews over the law! So for him to stop and invest so much time in writing this letter to the Galatians, it is clear that he has a deep love and concern for them and their spiritual welfare.
Also, it should be noted that because Paul wrote this letter with his own hand, it lends extra weight to the importance of what he discussed. Because he had gone to so much effort to pen this himself, it must be important. Therefore the Galatians should pay the strictest attention to what he has taught in the letter. We should do the same!
Galatians 6:12 – It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
At the close of his letter, Paul returns to the main evil that prompted him to write to the Galatians. Namely, false teachers had fooled the Galatians into believing that they must be circumcised and keep the law in order to have salvation.
In his ‘closing argument’ Paul reveals the true motivations of these teachers. They are not really concerned with the promotion of true religion or the salvation of others. Their real motivation is to avoid persecution from their fellow Jews. If they were to renounce the practice of the law and preach grace alone, they would expose themselves to the rage of the Jews – the same rage that caused the Jews to so furiously and relentlessly persecute Paul.
Because they did not want any part of that persecution, they attempted to blend the Law with grace in order to keep both parties happy. This led to the promotion of an evil and unnatural form of religion that robbed the blood of Christ from its true power and led people astray.
Galatians 6:13 – For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.
Paul also reveals the hypocrisy of the false teachers. By adhering to circumcision, they obligated themselves to keep the entire law. Yet, they are very careless in how they observe it.
Another reason they want the Galatians to be circumcised (besides avoiding persecution) is so they can brag about how many converts they have made to their false Jewish-Christian sect. We can’t help but notice that they desire to create an outward change in the flesh of these believers, as opposed to an inward change effected by the Spirit. So while they claim to promote true religion, they are actually enemies of it!
Galatians 6:14 – But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Paul now contrasts himself with the false teachers. Unlike them, Paul has no ambition to glory in the Galatians as his converts. He will boast only in the cross of Christ, which brings justification and salvation to all who believe.
It is interesting to note that the cross was a stumbling block for most Jews:
I Corinthians 1:23 – But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
This is because the Jews attached feelings of shame and ignominy (public disgrace and dishonor; reproach) to it. Paul, however, rejoices in the cross because the sacrifice made there is the foundation of grace/salvation.
Paul goes on to say that because of the cross, the world has been crucified to him and he to the world. In this instance ‘world’ refers to the flesh or desires of this life.
When Paul accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, his old nature was crucified with Christ. He now considers himself dead to the fleshly desires of this world; he no longer cares for them or spends time pursuing them. Meanwhile, unbelievers who continue to live according to the flesh have no love for Paul because they despise and condemn the doctrine of the cross.
This is the opposite of what we find in the false teachers. Their chief concerns were deeply rooted in the world. They were interested in the number of followers they could amass, which would in turn earn them glory and privilege in this world.
Galatians 6:15 – For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Under the law, circumcision was essential because it was God’s covenant in the flesh of his people. Those who were not circumcised could not inherit any of the covenant promises.
But under the gospel dispensation, neither the presence nor the absence of circumcision in the flesh justifies us in the sight of God. Rather, we are justified or made a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17) by the blood of Christ. In the book of Romans, Paul refers to this as circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:29).
Galatians 6:16 – And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
Again, redemption is not through the law (circumcision); it comes through the sacrifice of Christ which makes us a new creation. We must accept the sacrifice of Christ in order to obtain all the rights and privileges of a member of the family of God.
Any person who walks or lives their life as a member of the family of God will live/walk in the peace and mercy of God.
Notice that Paul refers to Christians as the “Israel of God”. As you recall, the Jews were Israelites simply by virtue of their physical birth. However, any person (Jew or Gentile) can become a member of the ‘Israel of God’ or ‘spiritual Israel’, by receiving and embracing Jesus Christ as revealed in the gospel.
Galatians 6:17 – From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians is now coming to a close. He has fully revealed the mind of God in the matter of circumcision (the law) and settled the controversy between himself and the false teachers.
Those same false teachers have been a real pain in the neck for Paul – they practically destroyed the Galatian churches, they undermined Paul’s authority and they led people astray with their false doctrine. In short, they created a real mess, which the apostle had to stop and clean up.
But now, using his apostolic authority, he declares ‘enough is enough’. He calls on the Galatians to return to the pure doctrine of the gospel, to separate themselves from those who led them astray, and to abandon the practice of the law.
Paul says that he bears the marks of Jesus on his body. In other words, he is telling the Galatians that he already suffered (and continues to suffer) for the cross of Christ. This was evident in the scars or wounds that he received as a minister of the gospel. Paul had been beaten, stoned, placed in shackles and otherwise persecuted in a variety of ways. These marks are proof of the afflictions he has suffered because of the cross; he implores the Galatians not to add to his suffering by abandoning the true gospel.
Galatians 6:18 – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.
Paul’s closing prayer for the Galatians is that God would pour out his grace upon them; that God would guide them throughout life, strengthen them in their work, and encourage/comfort them in all the trials of life and even in the midst of death. What a wonderful and affectionate prayer!
Let me offer you some encouragement:
Are you laboring and sowing seed into the kingdom of heaven? If so, you can be assured that you will reap a harvest – so don’t complain, don’t worry and most importantly – don’t give up! That harvest is on the way!
Let me offer you some relief:
The Lord has made it our duty to help our neighbors and to do good works. But before you panic, remember that no one person can help the whole world! Holy Spirit will bring specific opportunities for ministry across your path. If we live each day with an attitude of expectancy, we will surely recognize them when they appear.
Let me offer you some strength:
I may not know you, but my guess is that you are not perfect! Even though you and I are new creations in Christ Jesus, we still occasionally sin. We are still sometimes blindsided by our enemy, just like the Galatian Christians were. But that is not the end of the world. Like the Galatians, we can be forgiven and restored in our relationship with Christ. If you have fallen into sin, take it to the cross and leave it there! Jesus will give you the strength to pick up the pieces and continue in your Christian walk.