On Miscellaneous Subjects
By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
Preached 1/11/2009 a.m.
Text: Galatians 6:7-9. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
Introduction: Christmas was finally over and the Pastor's wife dropped into an easy chair saying, "Boy! Am I ever tired." Her husband looked over at her and said, "I had to conduct two special services last night, three today, and give a total of five sermons. Why are you so tired?" "Dear," she replied, "I had to listen to all of them."
Christian, do you find yourself entering this fresh new year with a worn out spirit? Are you tired? Are you tempted to do less than your best for the Lord? Do you find yourself losing enthusiasm for the Lord's work? Perhaps you are beginning to believe that it is not worth the effort to live for Jesus Christ. It's perfectly okay to admit it. Christians are no exception when it comes to weariness of body, soul, spirit.
In verse 9 of our text, the apostle Paul speaks of being "weary." He says, "And let us not be weary." The Greek word for "weary" is ekkakeo and means to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, or exhausted. Why were they weary? Two words. "Well doing." Verse 9 continues, "And let us not be weary in well doing." The phrase "well doing" speaks of performing approved, good, honest, noble, commendable, admirable deeds and services!
Did you know that some of the greatest personalities and leaders in the Bible grew weary? Moses, David, Elijah, all came to the point in their lives and ministries, where they wanted to quit, to bail out because of burn out! Why? They carried a heavy load as they led God's people, fought the Lord's battles, proclaimed the Lord's message, championed the Lord's cause.
The apostle Paul is writing this letter to the churches in Galatia, which means he is writing to men, women, adult singles, young people, children, leaders, followers, teachers, students, and even pastors. He is writing to believers in Jesus Christ who have made a commitment to membership in one of the Lord's churches. They had all dedicated themselves to doing good, to going the extra mile, to keeping themselves "unspotted" from the world.
Christians are called to live a transformed life, a life that is different from non-Christians, which is not easy. You might call this, "above and beyond" living! It involves saying "No" when everyone else says, "Yes." It involves being kind to people who treat us badly; loving those who do not like us or love us back; forgiving those who offend us. As Christians, we can't always do what we want to do, and at times we have to do things we don't want to do. We can't lie, steal, lust, cheat, take revenge, hate, and covet. We have to always tell the truth, work for everything, abstain from immorality, make amends, forgive the undeserving, love our enemies, and be happy for others who succeed, often in light of our own failures. Beyond this, Christians involve themselves in the cause of Christ, investing their extra hours in serving, teaching, witnessing, and worshiping. All of this and more can cause us to grow weary!
We gain insight into this as we consider the verses preceding our text. Galatians 6:1 reads, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Paul speaks of the need for some to be restored to the faith, and to the body of the church. There will always be those who are "overtaken in a fault." The word "overtaken," does not speak of catching someone in the act of sin, but rather of someone who is caught off guard by his or her sin or trespass. The Christian life is a warfare, and along the way, some believers and church members will become casualties to their flesh, the world, and the Devil. It is the responsibility of every church, whenever possible, for those who are "spiritual," to seek to restore the fallen, those who are wounded. Restoring the wayward Christian and church member requires someone to care, share, spend time and energy.
In verses 2-3, Paul speaks of "bearing" or sharing, supporting, carrying the "burdens" of others in the church. He says, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." The Greek word for "burdens" is baros which describes heaviness, weights, troubles. As believers and fellow church members, we must never be too proud to admit that we are experiencing problems and struggling with life, or too busy to help others, pray for others, who are in the midst of trouble. When burdens are shared, they are halved, and when blessings are shared, they are doubled! We should "weep with those who weep" and "rejoice with those who rejoice." We carry our own share of trials and troubles, but occasionally someone near and dear to us, someone in our church, needs a helping hand, a listening ear, a word of encouragement. What do we do? We set aside our own load for a moment, and come under their load.
In verses 4-5, Paul speaks of bearing our own burdens. He says, "But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden."
The Greek for "burden" in verse 5 is phortion, which speaks of responsibilities or obligations. There are some burdens that cannot be shared, but are meant to be shouldered! While we are to help others, there are some things we cannot do for them. We are all responsible to do our share, pull our weight, fulfill our commitments, shoulder our responsibilities!
Then in verse 6, The apostle Paul speaks of those who teach and preach, as well as those who profit from their teaching and preaching. He says, "Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." Good teaching and preaching requires a measure of work and sacrifice on the part of the teacher. The best teacher is a student. It takes time and effort to be a good teacher! Those who receive from the ministry of a good teacher, preacher, pastor, should give back and see that their needs are met.
Paul is acknowledging that all of the above, the work of restoration; burden bearing; responsibility carrying; teaching, leading, and serving, can take its toll on our spiritual lives! Hopefully it is easy to see how Christians can become discouraged and grow weary in doing good!
The Jacob Family are one of the missionary families we support on a monthly basis. They are missionaries sent out of the Broken Arrow Baptist Temple in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, to Pakistan. In their December 2008 report they write, "Here in Karachi at Defense Baptist Church there has been a steady attendance of about 80. Sadly, there are still people coming that are lost and have not made any decision for Christ. Some people seem to be losing their zeal for Christ, and we have been trying to encourage them. Some people will make a profession of faith, but after some time they seem to lose all interest in the things of God." As I read that, I realized that it is no different in Karachi, Pakistan than it is in Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. Missionary Jacobs speaks of being burdened by those who are lost and resist faith in Jesus Christ; saddened by those who are saved but lose their zeal for Christ; and disheartened by those professing Christians who walk away and quit the cause of Christ and church altogether!
It is in this setting that we hear the cry and see the need for Christian renewal. "And let us not be weary in well doing." As we begin this new year, I want to focus our attention for a moment on the mystery of Christian renewal. I call this the mystery of renewal, because it is just that, a mystery. You see, This renewal does not come from us, but from God, and can occur in your heart right where you are. You do not have to book a cruise to the Carribean, reserve a cabin in the Rockies, or register for some retreat with a motivational speaker. Right now, right where you sit, you can experience this mysterious renewal. How? The apostle Paul gives us The secret for renewal.
Christian renewal comes when we: Refuse to believe the lies of Satan. Verse 6 says, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." It is as if Paul is grabbing these Christians by the shoulders, shaking them and saying, "Don't be deceived!" The word "mocked" means to sneer or to turn up the nose. We grow weary and discouraged in our Christian lives, when we listen to the wrong voices, whether they come from inside of us or outside of us. Lies like, "Living the Christian life is not worth it. I am missing out on something. What about my life, my needs, my desires? It doesn't pay to live for Christ. Why do I have to be so different? Why can't I have fun like everyone else?"
As believers living in this world, we are constantly barraged by negative ideas and voices that would pull us down and away from our commitment to Jesus Christ and His church. When are we most likely to hear and fall prey to these voices?
We are tempted to "grow weary" in our Christian lives, when we have been criticized. No one likes to hear complaints and criticisms, especially when we are trying to do the right thing. When people are critical of us, we feel that we are not appreciated.
We are tempted to "grow weary" in our Christian lives, when we have been rejected. Accept it! When we live for Christ in this dark world, it shines a light exposing sin, which many times sets us up for rejection.
We are tempted to "grow weary" in our Christian lives, when we are alone, or at least feel that we are all alone. Elijah certainly felt that he was the "lone prophet." People with morals, values, and convictions for truth are becoming a rare breed.
We are tempted to "grow weary" in our Christian lives, when we have served with little visible results. It's often hard to measure ministry and Christian influence.
We are tempted to "grow weary" in our Christian lives, when we have experienced temporary set backs or failures.
There are set backs, disappointments, and heartaches in our work for Jesus Christ. Like Peter, sometimes we fail God, fail others, and fail ourselves. These are great opportunities to learn and grow, but they also provide opportunities for us to regress in our spiritual lives.
We are tempted to "grow weary" in our Christian lives, when we get caught up in comparing ourselves with others around us. God has given each of us a place in this world, an assigned task, and has equipped us to perform it. There are always people around us who are more talented and gifted in certain areas. When we get our eyes off of Jesus, and place them on others, we can become discouraged with who we are and with the place we have been given to serve.
We are tempted to "grow weary" in our Christian lives, when we are experiencing poor health. Illness that holds on keeping us from being our best or keeping us away from our place of service, can make us feel worthless.
All of these and more, represent times in our lives when we are vulnerable. Christian renewal begins when we refuse to hear or entertain voices that pull us down and away from God and our Christian service. This is one of the reasons we need God's Word, God's church, and God's people in our lives! We need to regularity be in a place and around people who share our values and world-view! Refuse the voice that "mocks," that makes light of Christian values, and retain the voice that constantly reminds us that our labor in the Lord is not in vain! You are important to God and to the cause of Christ! You can and are making a difference in this world!
Christian renewal comes when we: Remember and review the laws of sowing and reaping. Verse 7b-8 says, "....for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
Paul uses the metaphor of farming to encourage his fellow believers. Like farmers, everyday, through our attitudes and actions, we are involved in sowing in the hearts and lives of others. We all sow! We all reap! It makes a difference what we sow. Why?
The Laws Of Sowing And Reaping
Law one: We reap what we sow! One of my favorite movies is "Second Hand Lions." These two old, eccentric, wealthy, bachelor brothers, who live way out in the country, decide to plant a garden. They order a large variety of garden seeds, plant them, only to later discover its all corn! You may think you are planting cucumbers, squash, green beans, tomatoes, but the proof is in the harvest!
If we sow to our flesh, that is, when we give in to and obey that part of us that is sinful and self-serving, we will reap the consequences, which is always death. All sin leads to bondage. Pre-marital sex produces fear and anxiety in a relationship, because it is outside of God's desire. Uncontrolled anger produces violence, when God desires self-control. Drugs and drinking robs us of a sober mind. Always remember, "Sin takes you farther than you are willing to go, keeps you longer than you are willing to stay, and has a price higher than you are willing to pay." Someone pictured sowing to the flesh as purchasing truckloads of potatoes, storing them in a bank vault, and expecting to go back ten years later to sell them! Sin stinks!
If we sow to the Spirit, that is, when we yield ourselves to obey and apply the truth of God's Word by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within us, we will reap those consequences, everlasting life. When the Bible speaks of everlasting or eternal life, it is not merely referring to the duration of life, but quality of life. Eternal life is to share the very life of God, which is a thriving, abundant, joyous life!
Law two: We reap more than we sow. One grain of corn, produces a corn stalk, which in turn produces many ears of corn. So it is with our deeds, whether they be good or bad! Erasmus, an Augustinian monk whose translation of the New Testament from Greek texts, became the basis of the King James Translation, said, "We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions; we sow our actions, and we reap our habits; we sow our habits, and we reap our character; we sow our character, and we reap our destiny."
Law three: We reap later than we sow. Verse 9b speaks of reaping "in due season." Sowing and reaping are separated by time. A farmer sows in faith, expecting to reap a harvest! So it is with the Christian life. Living for Christ may result in some suffering, but it is still the best life to live! If anything, doing the right thing yields a clear conscience, peace of heart and mind before God and man! Meanwhile, our greatest harvest will come when we see Jesus face to face!
We can become shortsighted and forget our heavenly reward! Parents, teachers, workers, your "due season" is coming! Your rewards may not be now, but later! The apostle Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 4:8-9, "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness (attitudes and actions that are pleasing to God) is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation."
What do you want from life? You have heard it said, "What goes around, comes around." Reflect on the laws of sowing and reaping, and be renewed in your heart and mind as a Christian! As the old hymn says, "Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness, Sowing in the noontide and the dewy eve; Waiting for the harvest, and the time of reaping, We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves."
Christian renewal comes when you: Refocus upon Christ within you. Learn to rely upon the life of Christ within you. Doing the wrong thing, becoming weary and discouraged, comes natural to us. Bad attitudes and behavior, negative emotions, require no encouragement or work. They come easy. Doing what is right, staying positive for Christ in a godless, negative world is sometimes difficult. But there is good news! Jesus lives in us!
True Christianity doesn't come with a dead rule book. True Christianity comes with a living relationship with Jesus Christ! How wonderful, renewing and refreshing it is to realize that the presence and power of Jesus Christ is living in us! Galatians 2:20 reads, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." The full work of Christian renewal will reach your heart and mind when you learn to say, "It's not me! It's Jesus Christ in and through me! I can do all things, as long as I rely upon the life and power of Jesus Christ within me! It's when I am weak in my own sight, that I am made strong!"
In verse 10, we hear a burst of energy from Paul as he says continues, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." It is as if Paul is saying, "Now that life is back in perspective, and you have experienced the mystery of Christian renewal, look at the opportunities to make a difference!"
Presently, we are in the dead of winter, but in just a few months, we will experience the mystery of spring. The grass will come to life, flowers will begin to bloom, the trees will begin to leaf. Despite the harshness and extremes of winter, spring returns! It is the same in our souls! Despite the brutality, harshness, and extremes of this life, your soul can be renewed and refreshed. You can "force the spring" in your soul and feel that rebirth in your own heart today. Nothing speaks louder than a positive, glowing Christian! A Christian who is on fire for Christ in the midst of a dark and discouraging world is a mystery! Come share the mystery! Let God renew you!