After exhorting the believers in Galatia and warning them of the things they should avoid (Galatians 5:1—6:8), Paul may have known they would be feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of the Christian life. So he encourages them with the words of verse 9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Paul, perhaps better than anyone else, knew how wearying the spiritual battle can be. He ends his warnings about sin, the works of the flesh, and the deceitfulness of the world by encouraging the Galatians, and all believers, to remember the joyful harvest we will reap if we persevere in doing good. “As we have opportunity,” Paul says in the next verse, “let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).
We all know what it means to do good and not evil. Paul has just summarized the works of the flesh (which are doing evil) and the fruit of the Spirit (which results in doing good) in Galatians 5:19–26. Doing good involves yielding to the Spirit and exhibiting the fruit He produces—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When these things are dominant in our lives, doing good is the inevitable result.
We need this exhortation to not grow weary in doing good because “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). In view of our own natural weakness and the opposition of evil spirits and evil men, the best intentions for doing good can be easily derailed. Christians often feel there is so much work to be done that we cannot possibly do it all. There are so many needs, so many calls on our time, energy, and finances, and there is often so much ingratitude among those we try to benefit that we can easily become exhausted and disheartened. Doing what’s right is not easy in a fallen world, especially when it seems no one notices and there is little recompense for all our troubles. Is it worth serving the Lord? Paul says, “Yes!”
Growing weary in doing good is an ever-present danger in the Christian life. But there are things we can do to minimize weariness. Jesus scheduled times of rest, and so should we (Mark 6:31). Overcommitting ourselves is a primary cause of weariness among Christians. We want so much to contribute and to respond to God’s love by pouring ourselves into ministry for His sake that we risk burnout. Discernment is essential. God will provide for each need He wants to fulfill. He is, after all, in charge of it all. Not a sparrow falls without His seeing it (Matthew 10:29). He will ordain the means to accomplish His ends. Sometimes all He really wants from the overcommitted is for them to quiet their hearts and be still before Him (Psalm 46:10; cf. Luke 10:41).
Paul points us past our labors to the prize at the end: those who persevere in doing good are promised to reap rewards. When we become disheartened, the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit brings relief and gratitude to our hearts and glory to God. Just like the sower of seed must wait for the harvest, the Christian must wait patiently for the rewards that will inevitably come from the Giver of all good things (James 1:17). We will not give up, because our Lord is faithful. “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).