It is easy to become discouraged when we are worn out and weary. It is equally disheartening when our consistent efforts appear to yield no results. Therefore, the apostle Paul invokes a picture of a persistent farmer to encourage believers not to get tired of doing what is good: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9, NASB95).
James makes a similar appeal for believers to persevere like a farmer who waits in hope-filled expectation of the harvest: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7–8, ESV). Instead of losing heart and giving up, James instructs Christians to “establish your hearts.”
The original Greek words for “lose heart” in Galatians 6:9 mean “to be or become discouraged or disheartened; lose spirit.” The phrase translated “let us not lose heart” (NASB95) is alternatively rendered “let us not grow weary” (ESV), “let’s not get tired” (NLT), and “we must not get tired” (HCSB).
The Christian walk requires patience, persistence, and perseverance. Besides weariness, other factors like suffering, sickness, temptation, failure, loneliness, and persecution can make believers more vulnerable to discouragement and abandoning their faith. Even when we are doing well, we may grow complacent and slack off on our commitment to Christ. For this reason, the exhortation “do not lose heart” is given frequently in the New Testament.
Paul included the expression in many a pep talk. He told the Thessalonians, “And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13). Twice he urged the Corinthians to persist in the ministry of the gospel despite suffering, saying, “Therefore we do not lose heart” (see 2 Corinthians 4:1, 16). Paul told his protégé Timothy not to lose heart in pursuing “righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11–12, NLT).
The writer of Hebrews advised believers not to lose heart in their battle against sin by keeping their eyes on Jesus Christ, the perfect example of patient endurance: “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1–3).
Through the Parable of the Persistent Widow, Jesus taught His followers not to lose heart in prayer (Luke 18:1–8). Prayer is essential to standing firm in the faith. We must spend time in the presence of the Lord because He “never grows weak and weary” and “gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:28–31, NLT).
Just before Paul told the Galatians, “Do not lose heart,” he explained that “those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8, NLT). The promised reward for those who don’t quit sowing to the Spirit is eternal life with God (John 4:35–36; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Peter 5:4, 10). The Lord will fulfill His promise; therefore, we do not lose heart: “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised” (Hebrews 10:36, NLT; see also Matthew 10:22).