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Author:Dr. Wes Bredenhof
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Launceston, Tasmania
 Tasmania, Australia
 
Title:Do good whenever you can
Text:Galatians 6:9-10 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Communion of Saints
 
Preached:2019
Added:2019-12-19
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Hymn 66

Psalm 25:5 (after the law)

Psalm 119:54

Psalm 1

Hymn 61

Scripture readings:  Matthew 12:1-14, Galatians 6

Text: Galatians 6:9-10

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Christ,

Our passage for this morning seems simple, doesn’t it?  Do good, keep doing good.  It appears straightforward enough.  But as we’re going to see, there’s more here than first meets the eye.  But before we dig into the meat of our text, it’s good that we reflect on why this teaching should be so compelling for us.  As Christians, why should we care about Scripture’s call to do good and keep doing good?  Now you could say it’s because it’s God Word and we should follow God’s Word and you’d be right.  That’s true.  You could say that those who love God will want to do what he says and again you’d be right.  That’s true too.  Those are good, strong reasons to take our passage seriously. 

Yet there’s something even more compelling.  Consider what we read from Matthew 12 about our Saviour Jesus.  Jesus does good to a man with a withered hand.  He heals him, restores him to full health.  In his love and compassion, he comes to a broken human being and makes him whole again.  It’s a miracle.  Now it’s easy to look at that passage and only see the miracle.  We just get caught up in the amazing thing that Jesus did.  He’s an amazing healer – which he is.  But there’s more going on.  When Jesus did this good, he loved his neighbour perfectly.  He was demonstrating perfect obedience to the law of God.  One of the important reasons he did that was for us.  We owe God that perfect obedience.  We’re obligated to promote our neighbours good wherever we can and may.  But so often we don’t.  How can we be considered righteous in God’s eyes?  Answer:  only through the righteous obedience of Jesus in our place.  He did good because we don’t.  He did it in our place and his good is credited to all who place their trust in him.

But we also require forgiveness, payment for our sins.  Here again, Jesus does good.  He does good for us by going to the cross.  He offers himself as the sacrifice which turns away God’s wrath and returns his favour.  In other words, he does good by being our propitiation.  Because of that good, we’ve been forgiven by God all our sins of past, present, and future.  The gospel assures us that Jesus has done good for us, both in his life and in his death. 

That’s good news.  That good news compels Christians to take God’s Word seriously, also when it tells us to do good whenever we can.  Obviously it’s not to offer up obedience to earn merit with God.  Obviously our doing good isn’t to try and atone for our sins – like if we do enough good we can outweigh any evil we’ve done.  That kind of thinking isn’t biblical.  Instead, doing good whenever we can is our response to this good news.  Doing good whenever we can is our thankfulness, our love to Christ, our desire to make much of him in recognition of what he’s done for us.  The gospel compels us to listen up and follow when God’s Word says do good whenever you can.  That’s our theme this morning as we look at Galatians 6:9-10 and we’ll consider the:

  1. Exhortations God gives here
  2. Temptations we face to not do these things
  3. Motivation given by God to help us persevere  

The verses of our text come at the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches.  There’s a whole section here of practical instruction.  It begins with Galatians 5:13-15.  Look with me at that passage.  Verse 13 reminds us that God has called us to freedom.  We’re free from the law as a way to try and earn our way with God.  But freedom from the law in that way doesn’t mean you should live lawlessly.  Christians are still called to serve one another through love.  That’s in verse 13 as well.  Then verse 14 restates the teaching of Leviticus 19:18, “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  That doesn’t mean manufacturing warm fuzzy feelings for your neighbour, but taking care of your neighbour just as you instinctively take care of yourself. 

Now in the verses that follow, there’s more teaching on how to live as a Christian, especially in relation to other believers.  Chapter 6 begins on that note.  It speaks of how believers are to take care of one another with regard to mutual accountability.  If someone is caught in a sin, God calls us to care enough to say something.  That’s in verse 1.  Then verse 2 says “bear one another’s burdens.”  That’s specifically referring to our struggles with sin.  We love one another by struggling together.    

Verse 6 takes things in a slightly different direction.  The Holy Spirit says that believers are to share all good things with their teachers – that means their pastors, those who teach the Word of God.  Then follows the principle of reaping what you sow.  We’ll get into that a little more later on. 

Then comes the general exhortation to do good.  Everything before this in chapter 6 has been about doing good.  It’s been about doing good in specific ways and even with specific people like pastors.  But verses 9 and 10 are more general.  Christians are to be doing good.  It’s mentioned in both verses, “And let us not grow weary of doing good….let us do good to everyone, especially to those of the household of faith.”  That raises a few questions.

First of all, what is “good”?  Our passage and the whole Bible for that matter assumes there are such things as good and evil.  Objectively speaking, there are good things and there are evil things.  So right away we reject the worldly idea that good and evil are subjective.  We reject the worldly idea that good and evil are just what people agree them to be, that good and evil are relative to the thinking of cultures or societies.  No, the Bible says there is objective good and you’re exhorted to do it.  Objective good is defined by God.  It’s defined by his character.  God is good and he does good.  And nowhere else do we see that more clearly revealed than in the person and work of our Lord Jesus.  In him we see perfect goodness.  In Galatians 5:22, goodness is one aspect of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Because Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, he was filled to overflowing with goodness.  If you want to know what goodness looks like, study Jesus.  He perfectly followed the law of God. 

The law is a written revelation of God’s objective standard of goodness.  So if you’re going to do good, you need to understand what goodness is from the moral law of God.  You can look to the Ten Commandments as a summary.  In this context, we think especially of commandments 5-10, the ones that speak about how we do good to our neighbours.  We do good when we honour our father and mother.  We do good when we love our neighbour instead of harming or even killing him.  We do good when we honour marriage and human sexuality.  We do good when we look out for the financial and physical well-being of our neighbours rather than stealing from them.  We do good when we use our communication for the good of those around us, rather than lying, slandering, or gossiping.  We do good when we learn contentment, instead of coveting and desiring what belongs to our neighbours.  You see, brothers and sisters, God’s law defines what is objectively good.  God’s law is our guide to goodness.  That’s how you get to know what’s good so you can do it.

Second, when are you supposed to do good?  Look at verse 10 with me.  It says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good…”  The word for “opportunity” is interesting.  In the original, it’s a word which refers to the appropriate or fitting moment, “just the right time” you could say.  That could be whenever.  God can bring the right moment for doing good at any time.  You don’t know when you’ll have an opportunity to do good by someone.  Because you don’t know, you should always be prepared to do good.  Ask the Holy Spirit to prepare your heart so when an opportune moment comes, you’re ready to take it.  Ask the Holy Spirit to work in you so you’re ready to do good whenever the possibility presents itself.

Next, to whom are we supposed to do good?  Verse 9 just puts it in general terms.  But verse 10 answers this question directly.  It says, “…let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  So, we ought to do good to absolutely everyone.  It doesn’t matter who they are or how they’ve treated you.  Do good to them. 

But the Holy Spirit narrows our focus on “those who are of the household of faith.”  Now when he does that, he’s following a principle he gives elsewhere in Scripture.  The principle is that charity always starts with those whom God has put closest to you.  Your first responsibility is towards those who are nearest you.  You could think of 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  Charity starts at home with your own family.   But it works outward from there.  There are those who take priority in our doing good.  After your family comes your church family, members of the family of God, the household of faith.  Scripture says we’re to focus our doing good on our fellow believers in the church of Christ.  We’re to take care of our own first.

How does that work out in practice?  Let me specifically address two groups in the congregation.  I think that by addressing these two groups, I’ll probably address everybody else in some way too.  In my first congregation in Canada, we had numerous elderly brothers and sisters.  Some were relatively healthy and mobile and others were housebound or bed-ridden to various degrees.  One comment I heard quite frequently was “I feel so useless.  I can’t do anything anymore in the church.  I just sit here and hope someone will come to visit me.  But because of my age and condition, I can’t do anything.  I’m useless now.  I feel like I have no role in the church anymore.”  Probably some of the elderly members here can relate to that too.  God says, “do good, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  But how can you do good when you’re elderly and your energy is gone, your health is gone, many of your friends are gone?  I can think of at least two important ways you might still do good. 

One is something you can do even if your mobility is limited and you can’t get out as much.  This is something you can do as long as your mind is still sound.  You can pray.  Don’t underestimate prayer as something good you can do for others, also for those who are in your church family.  Prayer is powerful.  Prayer is something God mysteriously uses to accomplish his will.  When you’re younger or when you’re in the prime of life, you don’t have a lot of time for prayer, or at least it can seem that way.  One thing a lot of elderly people have is time.  You have time, so use it for prayer.  Do good for your brothers and sisters by praying for them.  Pray for your office bearers.  Pray for the youth of the congregation.  Pray for the sick.  Pray for the peace and harmony of God’s people.  Pray for the church to grow.  Pray for mission work.  There are so many different ways you can doing good simply by praying.  Never forget what Scripture says in James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  My elderly brothers and sisters, do good by being prayer warriors in and for the household of faith.

Encouragement is also something many elderly people can still give.  If you’re still able to write, you can send notes and cards encouraging other members of the church.  Whether it’s for a birthday or for someone who’s dealing with cancer or some other sickness or whatever else, these little gestures can mean a lot.  They can do a lot to lift the spirits of brothers or sisters.  It’s always appreciated.  You can give that encouragement in person too, but it’s not always easy or practical to do that.  Those little notes and cards are a great way to do good, even when you’re elderly and might feel you’re out of the loop.  No, you still have a role.  You’re still a valuable part of the communion of saints.

Sometimes the younger brothers and sisters can feel out of place too.  How do you do good, especially in our church family?  Kids, listen up.  You can still do good too.  It’s simple things.  Things like when you’re at school and another student does something well.  Don’t be jealous of them.  Instead, encourage them.  Say, “Hey, good for you.  That’s really good.”  Words of encouragement like that are doing good.  Or maybe you see someone getting bullied.  Maybe because of their looks.  Then you speak up and say, “Hey, stop that.  Don’t act like that.”  You’re defending and protecting and that’s doing good.  It’s simple things like that. 

And when you get a bit older, doing good is your calling too.  How about having the youth visit with all the elderly in the congregation?  That would be doing good.  The elderly members would love that contact with you young people.    This is a great way for you young people to do good in and for the household of faith.              

Let’s dig back into our text and look at the temptations we face to not do good whenever we can to all, and especially to those of the household of faith.  There are challenges.  In our passage, the Holy Spirit speaks of those challenges. 

He implies those challenges when he says, “And let us not grow weary…” at the beginning of verse 10.  It’s also implied at the end of verse 10, when he says, “…if we do not give up.”  You see, there’s a temptation to let us ourselves grow weary of doing good.  There’s a temptation to give up doing good, to throw in the towel and forget about it because it’s too hard.

What are some ways we might find ourselves in those shoes?  First, there’s stuff related to our indwelling sin.  Even as Christians, we have the leftovers of a sinful nature and they make themselves known when it comes to doing good as well.  There’s laziness.  You just might not feel like exerting yourself to do good for a brother or sister in the church.  There can be indifference.  You just might not care about doing good for your church family.  Or you might not care enough to do something good.  There can be selfishness.  The whole universe revolves around planet ME.  You don’t give any thought to others around you who need someone to do them good.  There can be a failure to properly prioritize in life.  You don’t see the importance of doing good, so other things are placed before that. 

Let’s be clear that these are sinful ways in which we can flag in doing good.  Laziness, indifference, selfishness, and failure to prioritize – all these are wrong in God’s eyes.  They’re things from which we need to repent.  That means we have to turn away from these things, we have to hate these things, and flee from them.  If you’ve been hearing this and are feeling the Holy Spirit convict you that you’ve been guilty of laziness, indifference, selfishness, failure to prioritize, then repent.  Hate that sin, confess it to God for the sin it is and ask him to forgive you through the blood of Christ.  Loved ones, he will.  These sins can and will be forgiven.  But then also move on and strive to follow God’s will. 

Now that’s easy to say, but how do you do that?  In other words, how do you fight against the sinful temptation to grow weary and give up?  Other passages in the Bible speak about this struggle, this challenge.  The beginning of Hebrews 12 says that life is like a race.  In that race, it’s possible to get weary and fainthearted.  But how do you resist that?  Hebrews 12:3 says that you need to consider Jesus.  Look to Christ.  Look to Christ as your Master.  You’re a disciple and you want to imitate your Master.  He never flagged in doing good and you want to follow his example.  So fellow disciples, look to Christ as your Master.  But also look to Christ for power.  Ask Christ for the power of his Holy Spirit to live in you.  Ask for Christ to empower you with his Holy Spirit so that you do more and more begin to look like him.  That’s how the problem of getting weary is addressed – look to Christ.  Look to Christ your Master and look to Christ as the source of the power you need to follow God’s command and do good.

There’s another challenge to address too and that has to do with being busy.  If you’re busy, it’s going to be hard to do good in the household of faith and anywhere else for that matter. Now, busyness can be a result of failing to properly manage our lives and set priorities.  Lazy people can give the impression that they’re super busy, but they’re only running around like crazy because they didn’t get things done when they should have.  So busyness can be the result of sinful habits or patterns in our lives.  If you hear “busyness” and say, “Hey, that’s me” you should examine yourself whether your busyness is of your own doing. 

But there can also be those who are legitimately busy because of circumstances beyond their control.  That can happen and we need to be honest about it.  What does God’s Word say to the person who is really busy and finds it really hard to do good to everyone and especially to those who are of the household of faith?   That’s a tough question, isn’t it?  But I think the Bible does give us an answer and it’s one we can all work with.

Here we need to think again in terms of our being disciples of Christ.  To be a disciple of Christ is to be a follower, a student.  We seek to learn from him, we seek to learn about him, but above all, disciples of Christ seek to be like him. 

Now keeping that in mind, I want to refer back to what we read from Matthew 12.  In verse 12, Jesus said, “So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Think about that for a moment.   “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”  Jesus did good on the Sabbath.  He healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath.  Earlier in the chapter, Jesus gets confronted by the Pharisees because his disciples were plucking grain on the Sabbath.  In the parallel passage in Mark, Jesus says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”  What Jesus does and teaches is that the Sabbath is designed not only for our good as a day of rest and worship, but also as a day for doing good. 

We understand that the Lord’s Day is the Christian Sabbath.  Sunday is the Lord’s Day and it’s one day out of seven that we honour with rest and worship.  But if we’re disciples of Christ, he teaches us and shows us with his example, that it’s to be a day for doing good.  You may be legitimately and validly busy from Monday to Saturday.  Six days you shall labour.  Fine.  But then you have Sunday.  Certainly part of it is to be for rest.  Part of it is to be for worship.  But Sunday is also a day for doing good, especially in and for the household of faith.  It’s a day set aside for acts of mercy and deeds of kindness.  Do you use it as such?  Brothers and sisters, as disciples of Christ, let’s follow his example and do good on the Sabbath, even if we’re legitimately busy throughout the rest of our week.  There are different ways you can do that – hospitality, encouragement, Bible study together, and more.  I’m sure you can think of more. 

Now there’s one more thing we need to look at in our passage and it’s the motivation that God gives here to persevere in doing good.  To persevere means we keep going with it, we don’t give up.  There’s a motivation in verse 9, a carrot on the stick if you will.  Look at verse 9, do you see the motivation?  It says, “…for in due season we will reap.” 

The principle of sowing and reaping comes back here.  That’s an image found throughout the Bible.  You reap what you sow.  The image comes from the farm.  If you sow no seed, you get no harvest.  If you sow just a little bit of seed, you reap a small harvest. But if you sow a lot of seed, you’re likely to reap a huge harvest.  It’s not a hard image to understand as such. 

But what does it mean when it says, “in due season we will reap”?   What is the due season?  And what are we going to reap in that due season?  The due season here is God’s appointed time for judgment.  This is referring to the end of the age when Christ returns.  There will be a reckoning for every deed done, whether good or evil.  And Scripture is simply saying that the evidence for our having been saved by God’s grace will reflect what we reap.  This goes back to the previous verse, verse 8.  If you sow to the Spirit, you will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  If your life is guided by the Holy Spirit, he will ensure that the evidence is there that you have been redeemed by Christ.  Then when the due season arrives, you will reap, you will reap eternal life.  It’s not because of your doing goods, not on the basis of your sowing, but your sowing by doing good will prove that your Christian faith was genuine.        

God says this in our passage to motivate us.  Doing good matters.  Doing good matters both now and eternally.  It’s not pointless or aimless.  There will be a recognition of the good you’ve done.  God is going to acknowledge your doing good.  He’ll acknowledge it as the evidence that you are his child through Christ.  That should spur you on to do good and keep on doing good.  And so why wouldn’t you want to do that?  Sow with your doing good, and you will reap in due season. 

Doing good seems like it should be such a simple thing.  But the reality is that it’s not easy in a broken world.  It’s not easy for us as sinful human beings.  We’re going to need God’s help and strength if we’re going to do good.  We don’t have the resources within ourselves – we completely depend on God for this too.  And so we need to keep on praying for his help each day.  AMEN. 

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

We pray for your help and strength in doing good.  Sometimes we create our own sinful obstacles to doing good and we confess that.  We ask you to forgive us through Christ.  We ask for your Holy Spirit to help us in overcoming our laziness, indifference, selfishness and lack of proper priorities.  We also ask for your wisdom and help to overcome the circumstances beyond our control.  Help us with your Holy Spirit to be faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus.  We thank you for the promise of your Word, that you will acknowledge our doing good.  We pray that this truth would motivate us to do good to all whenever we can, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

              

 

                                 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Dr. Wes Bredenhof, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

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