January 13, 2013

Being a True Do-Gooder (Galatians 6:6-10)

Preacher: Bryce Morgan Series: When Jesus Isn't Enough (Galatians) Topic: Galatians Scripture: Galatians 6:6–6:10

When Jesus Isn’t Enough (Galatians)

Being a True Do-Gooder
Galatians 6:6-10
(One Truth: Walk in Truth)
Pastor Bryce Morgan


I. Redeeming the Title

Would anyone really want to be called a “do-gooder”? Really? Just listen to a few of these dictionary definitions of that label:

“an earnest often naive humanitarian or reformer” (Merriam-Webster)...“A naive idealist who supports philanthropic or humanitarian causes or reforms.” (American Heritage)...“Informal, usually disparaging—a well-intentioned person, esp a naive or impractical one.” (Collins)

Doesn't sound very flattering, does it?

But this morning, I believe God's word is calling us to redeem that title, by understanding what it means to be a TRUE “do-gooder”. Turn with me to Galatians 6. This morning we will pick up where we left in our ongoing study of Paul's letter to the churches in the Roman province known as Galatia.


II. The Passage: “Let Us Do Good” (6:6-10)

Just listen to what Paul writes to these young, confused, and struggling Christians. Even more importantly, listen to what God himself has said...what God himself is saying to us this morning:

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. [7] Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. [8] For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. [9] And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. [10] So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

No, there are some wonderful things God had for us in the passage, so let me do this. Let me first talk about the EMPHASIS on true 'do-gooding' that we see here, and secondly, let me talk about the EXAMPLE of true 'do-gooding' that Paul points to through his word.


A. The Emphasis on True 'Do-Gooding' (vs, 6, 9, 10)

First of all, look at the emphasis Paul places in these verses on the word “good”. Verse 6: “sharing all GOOD things”; verse 9: “let us not grow weary of doing GOOD (or what is “excellent”); verse 10: “let us do GOOD to everyone”. That theme is inescapable, isn't it? Paul is calling them to be “do-gooders”!

Now when it comes to “doing good”, I think a lot of people imagine themselves to be doing well in that department...especially just having come out of the Christmas season. People volunteer, they support causes, they help out a friend, they buy gifts for the needy.

But when Paul emphasizes “doing good” in these verses, we have to also remember what he wrote in his letter to the Christians in Rome. He said this about our human condition: ...as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; [11] no one understands; no one seeks for God. [12] All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12)

That's Paul describing the bondage of sin. “No one does GOOD, not even one.” So even though the world is full of people who are doing “good things”, God teaches us through Paul that because of sin, we cannot DO what is truly good because WE are not truly good.

People can do “good things”, even imagining themselves to be “good people”. But our human definitions of “doing good” are so limited and flat and disconnected. We're like people who light candles and proclaim we are spreading sunshine. But the darkness is our norm.

Don't get me wrong, lighting candles is good. And by God’s grace, we do see candles here an there. But it won't turn the night into day. The flame of a candle has light and heat, but it is nothing compared to the light and heat of the sun.

Paul is saying in Romans 3, “no one spreads sunshine, not even one!” Jesus said, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

But the message about Jesus, the Good News or gospel that Paul was trying to preserve among the Galatians, that message is one of sunshine, of night becoming day. Listen to how Paul expressed this idea to his co-laborer Titus:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, [12] training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, [13] waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, [14] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

You see, not only is Paul describing how Jesus broke the power of darkness on the cross, and how he brought us, what we might call, 'divine sunshine', but Paul is also telling us how the grace of God wants to make us, not candle-lighters, but mirrors, mirrors who can reflect that sunshine that Jesus makes possible.

And so the only way that any of us can be a true “do-gooder”, is first to receive, by faith, the goodness of God through Jesus, and then allow that very goodness to flow through us. That's how we 'spread the sunshine'.


B. The Example of True 'Do-Gooding'

And as we look more carefully at this section of verse, Paul tells us several things about actually being true “do-gooders”. I see at least four things here.

I'm going to jump around here, but first of all, if we look at the beginning of verse 10, we see that Paul tells us something about...


1. The Inclusiveness of a Do-Gooder (v.10a)

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone...

God wants us to shine His light in every single place, with every single person, in every single situation we find ourselves. Life is full of opportunities, isn't it? In Matthew 5:16, Jesus called His followers to, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

And a little later in that same chapter, Jesus made gave this astounding command:

...I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, [45] so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. [46] For if you love [or do good to] those who love you [those who do good to you], what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? [47] And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? (Matthew 5:44-47)

No, God wants us to be distinct in that we DO GOOD to every single person, even people who deserve it the least, even people, with whom our first impulse is to be a 'do-badder'! This is how His light spreads; and you know as well as I do that this world desperately need His light.

When it comes to being a true “do-gooder”, when it comes to spreading His sunshine, we cannot be exclusive. We must be inclusive. Why? Because only when we do good to everyone are we truly reflecting the light of God...the light of Jesus Christ.

But we also see at the end of verse 10 that Paul goes on to give us a little more by telling us something about the...


2. The Priorities of a Do-Gooder (v. 10b)

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

A true “do-gooder” is somone who makes his or her own family their first priority, again, not to the exclusion of others, but in addition to others AND in that order. And who is the family Paul has in mind in this passage? It is the “household of faith”! It is everyone who has already received the light of Christ.

Again this is in keeping with what Jesus taught in John 13:34 (a command that Paul seems to allude to in verse 2 of Galatians 6). Jesus said: “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)

God wants us to do good to another, to love one another, to pray for one another, to stand with one another, to bear one another's burdens. Why? Because that's how we truly REFLECT His light to one another. And when that happens, the reflection of divine sunshine that the world sees is that much brighter. If we didn't do good to one another, wouldn't a dark world look suspiciously at our claims about the light?

But again, look at how Paul gets even more specific in this passage. He has said that we are to do good to “everyone”, and he has focused more specifically on “the household of faith”. But notice that he begins this section by being even more specific by telling us something about the...


3. The Gratefulness of a Do-Gooder (v. 6)

We see that right 'out of the gates' in verse 6, Let the one who is taught the word share all GOOD things with the one who teaches.

God has given teachers to His church, and this teachers have a very important job. We might call them “mirror polishers”. The job of the teacher is, according to Paul in Ephesians 4, to “equip the saints [the holy ones of God, God's people] for the work of ministry”. That's just another way to talk about being a true “do-gooder”.

But an expression of our gratitude to God for those who DO GOOD to us through faithfully teaching God's word is by sharing “all good things” with those who teach. This principle is clear in several of Paul's letters:

...is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?...If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?...In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. (I Corinthians 9:6, 11, 14)

Let the elders [same as a pastor-teacher] who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. [18] For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (I Timothy 5:17-18)

More than once I have had people ask me, “So what's your real job? What do you do during the week?” Of course, most of you know that being a pastor-teacher in God's church IS a full-time job. Doesn't it serve a church well if they can, by sharing “all good things” with an elder who “rules well...especially those who labor in preaching in teaching”, [if they can] free up that man's time, so he can make God's word and God's people his main focus?

Paul had to stop and work at times (he was a tentmaker), but in many cases, gifts from the churches helped him devote all of his time to the work of the gospel. And so Paul shows us here that our financial support of God's work is an important part of spreading the 'sunshine of Christ' to our dark world.

But there's one more thing Paul teaches us here about doing good. Look at verse 9. He tells us there something about the...


4. The Perseverance of a Do-Gooder (v. 9)

Paul writes, And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Isn't it comforting that God's word acknowledges the fact that it isn't always easy to do good? Sometimes it's hard, isn't it? We can get weary. We can get tired. We can get frustrated. We can feel spent.

But that's 'par for the course'. That's what God's word tells us to expect. And that's precisely why God, through Paul, encourages us here... “don't grow weary”, “don't give up”. God wants us to persevere as true “do-gooders”, and He wants to help us persevere.

Maybe that's exactly what God wants you to hear this morning. Maybe you are in a place, a situation, where you are weary. Do you hear God this morning? He’s saying, “Don't give up.”


III. Living in Seedtime, Looking to Harvest

But Paul's encouraging words here are, we might say, ROOTED, in a bigger picture that Paul has painted for us in verses 7 and 8:

God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. [8] For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

God calls us to persevere in doing good, in living like and for Jesus Christ. And in the midst of ‘do-gooding fatigue’, He sustains us by reminding us that one day there is a harvest coming, a harvest in which we will reap the FULLNESS of the very good we are sharing with others.

But as any farmer will tell you, what you reap depends on what you’ve sown. You can’t sow cotton seeds and expect a corn crop. It doesn’t work that way. In the same way, people who live only for their own good should not expect to reap the eternal goodness of God. You can’t sow darkness and expect to reap eternal light. As one writer put it, “Men cannot mock god because they can deceive themselves.”

The 17th century commentator Matthew Henry wrote this about these verses: Those who live a carnal, sensual life, who instead of employing themselves to the honor of God and the good of others, spend all their thoughts, and care, and time, about the flesh, must expect no other fruit of such a course than corruption—a mean and short-lived satisfaction at present, and ruin and misery at the end of it.

Our lives right now are the seedtime. The harvest will come at the end. And God will not be mocked by hypocrites, by posers. How you live now matters. So does that mean everything depends on our doing good? I like how another writer addressed this: “While Paul never wearies of telling folk that they cannot win God’s favor by good deeds, he equally never wearies of telling them of their duty to do good.”

For a church that was trying to do good in order to save themselves, Paul clearly teaches we are not made right with God by the seeds of goodness we sow. But, as we see here, those seeds are consistent with the new nature that God has sown within us by His grace in Christ. And if we walk by the Spirit, as Paul instructed them to do in the last chapter, then we will be sowing to the Spirit. And if we are, by God’s grace, sowing to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life from the Spirit.

Doesn’t that sound like that the kind of harvest you want to enjoy?

Brothers and sisters, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. May God help us this day, and this week, to be true “do-gooders”, as His grace, His Spirit, and His word produce are harvest in us and through us.

other sermons in this series

Jan 27


Jan 20


Jan 6