Doing Good Doesn’t Mean Being a Do-Gooder

Title: Doing Good Doesn’t Mean Being a Do-Gooder

Text: Galatians 6:6-10

Time: May 29th, 2011

 

We’re coming down to the wire, the finish, of the Book of Galatians. Only one more week to go before we finish our study of the entire book, which if you remember we started way back last September, in the summertime. Of course we took some time off from our study during the Christmas and Easter holiday seasons, but other than those few times we’ve pretty much been in Galatians most of the time. It’s been great because the Apostle Paul is so clear in teaching us the gospel of spiritual salvation by faith alone, not by works. That doesn’t mean there won’t be works or that there shouldn’t be good works in the Christian life, it just means that works follow faith, not the other way around. It also means that we aren’t saved by our good works, even though these good works should be present in our Christian life. But today as we near the end of the Book of Galatians, we’ll look at the topic of good works from a number of different angles – not any lengthy or extensive teaching – but just a number of quick comments Paul makes before he closes his letter to the Galatian Christians. Here’s today’s verse, Galatians 6:6-10, “ Anyone who receives instructions in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially in those who belong to the family of believers.” The Apostle is trying to throw in as many helpful instructions as he can because he knows that the letter is coming to an end. He also knows that he can’t go into detail and explain all these final instructions, but he’s hoping that the people will unpack them and carry out these instructions as best they can. That’s what we’ll be trying to do today – unpack and hopefully understand them enough to carry these instructions out in our lives, because after all, that’s the real point of Bible study, to live out the truth, not just carry it around inside our heads. But I don’t think we’ll have any trouble with applying these truths today because they are all of a practical nature as opposed to some truths that are more theoretical in nature. Those truths are important too, that is, the more theoretical truths, because some truths are needed to sit in our heads and influence the way we think and feel rather than specifically telling us what to do. But today’s truths will be more practical, more useful right away in our lives. So let’s get going and figure out what God is trying to say to use through this passage today.

 

First, it’s important that we share what we’ve learned with our spiritual teachers and not just keep it for ourselves. Galatians 6:6, “Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” Now some commentators think this verse is talking about financial compensation for Bible teachers. In other words, where it says, students should share with their instructors, some think it’s referring to financial compensation, payment, for teachers who teach. In other words, teachers who teach the Bible full-time shouldn’t be asked to do so for free, because like teachers of all kinds, they too must eat, pay rent, pay utilities, and so forth, and they shouldn’t be expected to labor in the work of the ministry for free. That could be the meaning of the verse, because obviously, people who teach full-time must make a living and obviously if they are instructing people, it is the responsibility of these people, these students, to compensate their teacher for his time and effort. But I don’t think Paul is speaking primarily of financial compensation here, although he could be as a reminder. What most commentators see the verse as saying is that those who learn from biblical teachers should regularly share with their teachers the blessings and good fruits that are coming from the teachings. In other words, in many instances, Bible teaches and instructors are putting out and giving of themselves, but often it’s hard to see the fruit of their labors because they are teaching spiritual and moral truths that don’t appear obvious in the lives of their students. So Paul is saying to the people of the church, “Share with your preachers and teachers the good that their labor is doing in your life or in the life of your family, because they need to know that what they are doing is making a difference.” It’s not like an instructor at a community college, say in a computer class. There, the teacher may be training students on Microsoft Office software, for example. After the class and especially weeks and months afterwards, the instructor can learn that so many of the students got jobs in offices using the skill they learned in class. The teacher can feel he or she is doing something helpful because of the feedback he or she gets from their students, or from the reports of students landing office jobs, for example. But what kind of feedback does the spiritual, biblical teacher get from those he teaches in the church? Usually there isn’t any way for him to know that he’s making any difference in anyone’s life through his teachings. For example, how do I know, as a Bible teacher, that anything I’ve taught in the Book of Galatians has helped anyone at this church at all? I don’t unless you tell me or give me feedback or unless you share with me that a certain teaching helped you or was a factor in a decision you’ve made. That’s what I think Paul is telling the Christians to do – encourage your Bible teachers. Let them know that what they are teaching makes a difference. If you don’t, they may get the impression that what they are doing isn’t making any difference in anybody’s life. Let spiritual leaders know that they are making an impact in our lives. Church isn’t just for leaders encouraging Christians, it’s for Christians to encourage leaders also.

 

Second, it’s important we remember that we reap what we sow in life. Galatians 6:7-8, “Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Now don’t think that this verse is talking about salvation by works. The Apostle Paul has just spent the entire Book of Galatians teaching salvation by faith alone, so I’m pretty sure he’s not going against that entire teaching and trying to slip in a little teaching about salvation by works at the end. No way is Paul teaching here salvation by works. So then what is the Apostle trying to say in bring up the sowing and reaping analogy? He’s talking about ethics, he’s talking about lifestyle, he’s talking about conduct in this life, he’s talking about how we go about living our Christian life. He’s encouraging Christians to live by the teachings of God and not any old way, or the way of the world, or worse, the way of the Devil. Now as Christians we are taught to live for God and we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to enable us to live for God, but we’ve always got to choose God over sin every day. Remember that – you’ve got to choose God over evil every day. If you ever get to thinking you’ve got it made now, or that you don’t have to worry about the world, the flesh or the Devil anymore because you are saved from hell, remember, yes you are saved, but you aren’t in heaven with Jesus just yet. We’ve got a life to live down here on earth. We’ve got to battle the world, the flesh and the Devil while we are alive down here on earth. Before we get to heaven, we’ve got to go through battles and wars against sin that tempt us every day. The law of sowing and reaping still applies to us and our actions every day. If we invest heavily in the sinful world, we’ll reap a harvest from the world. If we indulge in the sinful flesh, we’ll reap a harvest of fleshly results. Many Christians live under the false impression now that they are “born again” or “saved” the law of cause and effect no longer applies. Wrong! If you drink and drink and drink, guess what? You’ll get drunk. If you smoke pot, guess what? You’ll get high? If you over-indulge; you’ll get sick. If you over-dose in the sinful worldly culture, you’ll become worldly. If you let the sinful seeds of anger or resentment or jealousy grow, you’ll see a harvest of bad results in you life. Many Christians are shocked by what they see in their lives, but they shouldn’t be because they sown those seeds that grew into harvest of tears. People who dabble in the occult and then find fear and anxiety ruling in their lives have nobody to blame but themselves. Stay away from the occult and you won’t have to battle with the anxiety it produces. Christians watch hours of television and DVDs every evening and wonder why they feel so spiritually empty. Well, you are sowing worldly material; you’ll reap a harvest of worldly, empty feelings. It’s real simple – you reap what you sow, so be careful what you sow.

 

Third, it’s important we not grow weary in doing the right thing. Galatians 6:9-10, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” This gets back to the point about church leaders and teachers; they need encouragement too because their spiritual labor isn’t always apparent or obvious. It’s hard to measure how much difference they are making, especially if nobody shares anything that’s happened as a result of their work. But it’s that way with all Christians, not just church leaders. We all question at times whether all our effort and energy to live for the Lord is really worth it. Now hopefully, we aren’t asking that question all the time, but from time to time, occasionally, we may wonder what’s the use, why go against the current of society, why fight the battle that seems to be going against us even. For example, as I look at my own ministry, it’s really discouraging to realize that most people are so spiritually dead that sharing the gospel with them is usually a waste, and then even if you share the gospel with them, even when they grasp and understand it, they’ll probably reject it in the end. So what’s the point of spending time and energy and resources working in a field that bears little fruit, and is so discouraging? But then I hear God’s Word tell me, “Don’t grow weary in your well doing, for at the right time you’ll see a harvest if you don’t give up,” and I keep on going. We live in a difficult time as Christians today, not that other Christians from other times didn’t also, but we live in a time where our culture has heard and rejected the gospel, the Bible, the church and God. It’s not that they are hearing this for the first time and having trouble accepting it. No. It’s they’ve heard it before and now they are making the decision to reject it. Our culture is rejecting Christian morality, basic right and wrong. Our society is rejecting Christian truth, rejecting the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross, rejecting salvation by faith or any belief in an after life, rejecting any idea of judgment or hell for sins against God. So it’s really hard going for any teacher or preacher who tries to lead people to embrace the gospel. But it’s also hard for Christians to live out the Christian life in the midst of so much unbelief and immorality. In only the last twenty or thirty years I’ve seen a big change in the attitude of the average person towards the gospel. I used to be able to pass out a few flyers announcing a Bible study and people would come. Now you do that not a one will usually come. It’s changed. We live in a hostile time, but we must not give up sharing and witnessing the gospel. We must not give up living for Jesus just because others more and more aren’t following Jesus.

 

But really, the falling away of the general culture in our country is just another reason why we need to be a part of church today. What is church? Any place where they preach the Bible, remember the Lord’s Supper, and encourage and hold each other accountable in the Christian faith is a church. Of course there are true churches and false churches. We need to warn people to stay away from groups like the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witness, Christian Science, and other false cults. And then of course we need to warn people about the liberal church, that is, churches with traditional names like First Methodist Church or First Presbyterian Church, or First Congregational Church, for example, who use the names and symbols of biblical Christianity but don’t really believe the teachings of the Bible nor follow the moral teachings either. There are liberal churches of all types. Sadly, the really big, grand church buildings of downtown Jackson are mostly liberal churches, where the gospel isn’t preached, Christian doctrine isn’t taught, and Christian morality isn’t followed. For example, I talked with a man who’s a member of First Congregational Church in downtown Jackson. Their last pastor was a practicing lesbian. And that’s the kind of thing you’ll find in liberal churches today – they use Christian terminology but it’s all talk, they don’t believe a word of it. They are unbelievers mostly, except a few members who believe despite their leaders. But that just means that true Christians need to gather together in true churches in order to keep themselves strong in following the Lord. Now these true churches don’t have to be perfect churches Notice there are no perfect churches in the Bible even. There are no perfect church leaders in the Bible either, no perfect apostles. But a church can be good without needing to be perfect. The number one requirement for a good church is that it preaches the Word of God, as opposed to the words of man. So many churches today are filled with the word of man, human opinion that passes for teaching. But what we need is God’s Word when we gather. Don’t we hear enough of the words of man on television, in the newspapers, on radio, on the Internet? In church we need God’s Word. We need God’s guidance in order to know what to believe and how to live. For example, this man Harold Camping told people Jesus would come on May 21st, but a good church would already know, according to Matthew 24:36, that nobody knows the exact day Jesus will come, so they wouldn’t be bothered by such foolishness. That’s a good example why we need the church – to gather and hear God’s Word and get encouragement to live for the Lord. Yes, at times it may get discouraging living for the Lord, but if we stay together and stay close to God we’ll make it, in this life and the next.

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