Doing Good to All – Galatians 6:9-10

If the one who is walking in the Spirit is supporting the local Christian community, how was that community supposed to use the support?

“Doing good” might refer to doing things that were considered a civic virtue in the community.  In a Jewish context “doing good” might refer to giving to the poor, protecting the widow and orphan, even burying the dead. Since the theme of giving money is prominent in this chapter, it is possible Paul’s command here was applied to a community fund which was collected and distributed to those in need.  How did the early church distribute funds?

Paul warns his readers not to become weary in doing these acts of goodness. The phrase appears in 2 Thessalonians 3:13.  The word Paul uses here (ἐγκακέω) sometimes refers to discouragement, or losing heart, perhaps even afraid.  The final phrase uses another verb (ἐκλύω) which refers to being exhausted or worn out. It appears in several military contexts to indicate losing one’s nerve. Why would someone become discouraged or afraid of doing good deeds?Image result for rich ignoring poor

One option is that there is no response from those that are helped.  To extend the sowing and reaping metaphor, if a farmer sowed seed in a field and nothing ever grew, he might give up sowing that particular field. If you volunteer at a homeless shelter, you can do many good things for people. But there might be little or no response from the people you are trying to help. That can be very discouraging!

A second option is that someone in Paul’s churches was afraid to do good works such as helping the poor in a community where helping the poor was not considered a virtue.  Early Christians often helped people who were very sick, even when their lives were a risk.  It is possible that this is a real fear people felt when doing acts of mercy.

A third option is that people who are busy doing good do in fact get tired of the work. Paul may very well have in mind physical exhaustion from serving people in the community! This is a danger in any kind of service, but it if someone is serving in a ministry where they are working hard and never see any results, they naturally become discouraged.

The fact that Paul includes a condition in verse 9 (if we do not give up) is an indication that the harvest or reward does not happen automatically (Witherington, Galatians, 433). It is hard work to be a member of God’s family, but it is ultimately rewarding.

Doing good begins with the “household of faith” and moves outward to everyone else.  This may be people in need within the household of God because they have a burden they cannot bear.  It also includes those who have been called by God to teach the Scripture in the local church.

21 thoughts on “Doing Good to All – Galatians 6:9-10

  1. I think doing good is definitely a definition that changes from their society to ours in this present day. I feel as though we have more responsibilities as for doing good because we have had the opportunity to learn over time through generations. I think that the ‘no response’ is a bad excuse for not continuing the good deeds you are supposed to be doing. That’s like saying just because your wife did not say she loved you today, that does not mean she doesn’t love with everything she has and would do anything for you. Some people who might not ever get help are used to being on their own and probably do not know how to show how thankful they are. However, I do believe in physical exhaustion playing a huge part in why someone might cut back on helping others in need. We are only human and can handle only so much, so we need to know when to break and when to help.

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  2. Doing good to all is another expectation of the body of Christ. The body is meant to help out one another and do good for the members of a church. While sometimes it may not be received well by some members of a church doing good does not stop because it is not received well. If it is not received well that is the prime time to change the way the “doing good” is done. Members of the church and believers should not do good deeds to get recognition but because of selfless behavior and the entire body of Christ should be sharing in that. When only some members are doing all the “good deeds” or service it results in quick burnout which is why there should be more than a fraction of members participating in this doing good to all. We as members of the body are called to serve and that is something that should be practiced often and practiced well.

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  3. Contrary to popular belief, helping others is a difficult task for the average person. The possible outcomes stated above: no response being given, placement into a possible dangerous situation, or becoming completely physically tired, are all liable to cause one to feel burdened. In fact, it seems as if our society has an issue concerning boundaries. A boundary, being something that marks a limit, should differentiate where/when one person starts helping as well as where/when they stop. In many instances, this self-care philosophy of helping oneself before helping others, seems to be selfish and far from an Christian thought processes. 1st Corinthians states “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Cor 3:6). The chapter then goes on to express that it is neither the one who plants or waters who makes things grow, but rather God (1 Cor 3:7). This can be applied in helping others—know where you stand according to your personal responsibilities, help others, and then back off while God works. Although it is inevitable to absolutely love helping others one hundred percent of the time, finding one’s’ boundaries and sticking by them, will most definitely help.

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  4. In our culture today, we love to see fast results. We get upset when a Google search takes longer than 3 seconds. We need things shipped to us within a day or 2 before we get upset. We love to be acknowledged for what we have done, and we want it to happen right away. That is not how things work though especially in serving. It is very discouraging when what we want to see doesn’t happen right away! It can be so exhausting caring for people especially if you don’t feel appreciated but we have to understand that that isn’t the point. We need to learn to look past our own self-righteousness and focus on the bigger picture. Contrary to popular belief, the world doesn’t revolve around us, and what we are doing should ultimately be building up the kingdom rather than our own selfish desire to be praised. “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9) It might become easy to resent the people you serve because you don’t feel like you are getting anything out of it. It is hard to understand that when you plant seeds, you might not see anything come from it. But when someone else comes along and continues to build them up from where you left off, those seeds will take root and God does the rest. “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6-7) Serving others is not always rewarding but when you serve with good intentions you are affecting someone’s life for the better whether you see results or not.

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    • Holly, great job on your discussion post. I liked how you mentioned we need to get over our own self-righteousness and look at the bigger picture. In our society today, this is extremely difficult to do because we are so self-focused, doing a lot of things that may be good but for all the wrong reasons. For example, a friend of mine was making fun of a girl he knew because during the terrible hurricane that hit the Bahamas a girl on his Instagram posted a photo saying “Praying for the Bahamas”. You would think this was good right? She was praying for the Bahamas and probably getting others to pray as well. The thing is, the photo she posted was a picture of her backside in a bikini. Therefore, the question is, did she actually care and pray or was she just trying to get likes on a picture? I can not be too hard on the girl because I find myself doing the same thing. Doing good but making sure others know it or only because I know the benefits I will get after it. However, after reading more on the passage I have found a way to overcome this type of attitude is by being led in the spirit (Longenecker, pg 103). Rather than just doing the good I come up with, try to have the spirit guide me on what I should be doing. Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” I think by staying in the word and praying for Spiritual guidance we can go out and do good without worrying about the aftermath or easily getting discouraged. Be that as it may, that is much easier said than done.

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  5. When you are doing good, or helping others and you do not see the results, you do get discouraged, and I think this is one reason that sometimes we tend to see less and less people helping others. In ministry, we very rarely get to see the final out come of doing good, but we are supposed to have faith that, even if we just plant a seed in someone’s heart, that we are not doing it for nothing. Sometimes we forget that our rewards are not found here on earth, and they are not found in people. It is hard doing good and helping others when you do not see results, but our eyes have to continue to be placed above, on God, so that we can continue in ministry without being burned out. Everything we do in life has a consequence. That consequence may be good or bad; it may be seen or unseen. This is true for doing good. The consequence and outcome of doing good is that it is impacting someone or something. However, because of how the world works, we may not always see results or be thanked in some way. As a ministry student, I feel that this is a challenge that we all must go through, because, in the end, it is not about what we get. It is about what we did to do good in the world.

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  6. From our Christian stand point “doing good” can influence many different people in many ways. We are to do the work of God no matter if we want to or not. There are many things that we do not want to do or think we are not qualifies for it, but we need to do anyways. Take Moses for instance he gave God so many reasons as to why he was not the man for the job, but God showed Moses that he was that person. Also, Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh and in turn went in the opposite direction and sure enough God intervened and showed him that the people of Nineveh needed him. Each of them has their own intentions at hand. “Paul is not referring to human bodies; instead by this term he describes the human penchant to live self-interested lives” (TTP, pg. 103). Both of these men of God went through trials and got discouraged along the way but they continued to do good in the eyes of God. Discouragement is something that we need to take on and then overcome. We need to realize that some things will not happen right away and that spreading the gospel takes time. How we live now we often think that if something does not happen right away it will not happen at all. “The result is that Jesus-followers are not to do what they are inclined to do but instead are to be led by the Spirit, to “live by the Spirit,” and to “keep in step with the Spirit” (TTP, pg.103). In letting the Spirit lead us we will then be able to “do good” the good that God wants us to do. If we let each bad thing in our life discourage us we will not be able to grow in the ways that God wants us to. We would stop helping others and in turn stop growing the kingdom of God.

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  7. When Paul commands the Galatian believers not to grow weary in doing good, I believe that he had a good reason to do so. At first glance, it seems like this would be an arbitrary statement: why would anyone get tired of doing good things? It makes both you and the other person feel good. However, doing good can be a daunting task in numerous ways, such as those which are stated above. No response, fear, and physical weariness can all prevent a person from following through on an encouraging act. I can relate to all three of these examples. I work with youth, and sometimes, their blank expressions as I talk with them about Jesus discourage me. Fear is also a huge factor in doing good, although we do not have the same conditions as the Galatians did. We do not have to fear that we could be arrested when we do a good act, but sometimes, people do not respond positively when we offer to pray for them or offer other services. When compared with the Galatians issue of the possibility of being killed, a negative response does not seem so intimidating. Physical weariness also plays into this, in that combining work, school, and ministry creates a non-stop schedule that can burn an individual out.
    I do not think that the command not to grow weary in doing good in Galatians 6:9 comes at a random point in the passage. Longenecker points out that in the previous verses, Paul is discussing “keeping in step with the spirit” (103). If we try to do good to all people under our own power, we will get burnt out because we are not strong enough to carry everyone else’s burdens along with our own; however, when we walk with the spirit and let Him work through us, He takes on those burdens, as well as our own, so that we can continue to minister to others. God is gracious enough to use us, and He has given us our source of power, the Holy Spirit.

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  8. We have manipulated the terms “doing good” in today’s society. We have overanalyzed what it means to do something good for another person. I believe your three points are very good reasons for why people have strayed away from doing good. We have become more relying on our own strength to do good for others. We think we need to do it ourselves in order to either make ourselves feel better inside or to show other people that we are capable. We grow tired because we think we have to use our own strength. As far as doing good without a response from those who we do good for, Jesus very rarely received a thank you from those He helped. Why should we expect any more? “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galations 2:16). We are not defined by the works that we do, but by the motives behind them. If we are not working because of Jesus then there are selfish intentions behind doing good. I believe doing something with selfish intentions can be dangerous for our faith. It becomes all about us then. We are not living by God at that point. We should be doing all things to the glory of Jesus Christ.

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    • Good point, I think selfish intentions lurks behind “doing good”. Look at the politicians who happen to get photographed while helping storm victims. Do they want to help or do they want to appear compassionate so they can get re-elected? The one who does their good deeds in anonymity is much more impressive, except you never hear about them!

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  9. Doing good works is a common thing we hear in the church. We are supposed to go into the world and show Christ’s love. And that is through working with the poor, hungry, sick, you name it and we are supposed to make it a ministry. I have truly witnessed people in fulltime ministry get burned out. When going to help others, there needs to be an expectation, that you are not going to get praise every day. You are doing thankless jobs in the name of Christ because that is what we are called to do. “Do not become weary from doing good,” (Galatians 6:9). I think that it is a wonderful thing that Paul address the reality of the exhaustion and “tiredness” you can get from “doing good.” The unfortunate reality that people, I do not think to understand is that there are slumps in ministry. I think that we all have a notion in our heads, that we are going to be on fire for God all the time, because of the good works we are doing. But sadly, it does get exhausting. You have to continually remind yourself to have a thankful heart. God does not call the weak hearted to ministry, that is for sure. I would consider this passage a reminder that we are not alone in our fight to stay thankful while doing good. It is a constant reminder that we are “doing good” to further God’s kingdom.

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  10. Doing good is an act of service that benefits an individual and it often is done not expecting anything in return. There are many ways of doing good in the community. This post, “Doing Good to All”, talks about how in the Jewish context “doing good” is more like serving the poor, protecting a widowed and orphan, or even burying the dead. While reading this post, I kind of thought to myself that those things are very similar to the just acts of “doing good”. Why i say that is because in the text of the post it says that “doing good” is like civic virtues. But for jewish people its different. In my opinion, I think it’s the same in a way on both sides. Doing something to help someone or something will always be considered an act of doing good. Where it may become frustrating is when you are doing several good deeds in a row and never get any acknowledgement for what was done. That happened often in the Jewish community. This started to discourage a lot of people from doing good. The Jewish people did not want to help people because they get completely ignored by the ones they are helping. The end of this post talks about not giving up. I think that this is important to remember because as humans, we rely on human approval and words of affirmation. Paul tells us that sometimes the reward will not be received automatically or even at all. It is a good reminder because we can all grow weary of doing good, but remembering that “it is hard work to be a member of God’s family” is motivation because at the end of our earthly lives, we get the ultimate reward in heaven.

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  11. As Dr. Long has written, there are multiple ways to interpret what Paul stated in Galatians, “…let us not grow weary of doing good…” (6:9); but the third reason stood out to me as something that could have been challenging for the new gentile believers at this time. While Jews who converted to Christianity would be familiar with the idea of “taking a sabbath” and the importance of regular periods of rest, gentile believers who were eager to serve, may not. It would have been quite easy for these new believers, excited and energized by their new faith to take what Paul has encouraged them to do all too seriously. In Galatians chapter 6, Paul encourages the church to carry each other’s burdens, and to not “not grow weary” while serving all people (Longenecker & Still, 2014). While this is great advice, and vital when speaking to a community of believers, it could also be taken to an extreme, causing them to not deal with their own problems and give up personal rest all together. While being active and productive is important when living a Christian life, there have been many examples of moments when Jesus, in his humanity needed to seclude himself and rest. One famous example is found in Mark 4:38, when Jesus is found sleeping in the bottom of a boat during a large storm. More can be found scattered through Jesus’s time on earth when he went alone to pray, one example being Luke 5:16. All of this being said, the third point about Paul encouraging the church members not to be discouraged could very well have been linked to their disposition to lack rest when doing ministry.

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  12. As representatives of Christ if we see our brothers or sisters in need then we should not turn from them. John tells us this in the book of 1 John 3:17 that if we do see them in need and turn our backs then How can the love of God be in us? There are certain cases though where we must discern of the “good” we are trying to do. I read a book once for one of my classes at Grace called, Toxic Charity. What this book basically did was warn us that sometimes what we try to do for others can hinder their independence. When someone becomes way too reliant on you then are we really helping them? The answer would be no in the case if someone who is capable and qualifies cannot think, move, or do without someone telling them too. A proper way would be to walk alongside someone in their journey and not try to carry them through it. We should enable and encourage our brothers and sisters to work through any issue. God made us each into more than capable beings that are able to find strength through Him. There is only so much good that we can do and the rest is up to God. As followers of Christ it is our job to work in the harvest and also pray for more workers. This is the only way our works will produce fruit for God’s kingdom. We have to be careful with how we go about doing these acts though. That way it ensures that people will grow from the good seeds we plant and not forget to water them.

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  13. This examination of Paul’s writing has triggered a concept about good works that is relevant at Grace Christian University in my mind. Part of our grade at grace is acts of service, or our “ministry”, I think it can be very hard for people to want to do this specifically because it is not out of ones own desire to serve but because it is mandatory. I believe Grace is trying to do good by implementing this criteria, but some students whose hearts aren’t in their ministry grow to extremely dislike the obligation. This is different from being discouraged yet it is an aspect on good works that is relevant to the Grace student body. I feel as though Paul’s writing would be a good reminder to those students who struggle with their role in ministry, and those lacking a desire. Paul’s words specifically reminded me to find the reward in my ministry and not think of it as just a grade. Other students struggle with trying to juggle sports, work, and classes, which is a source of discouragement for Grace students when it comes to doing their ministry. Therefore, this passage can be very relevant to Grace students, and the church as a whole in today’s society.

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  14. Doing good for the better of human life is what Paul would want. Paul encourges his people to keep doing good and to not loose sight of what is good in life. He mentions that why would you be afraid of helping someone to earn a positive feeling. The being afraid of helping someone comes into play when the same love is not showed in return. For there to be little to no respone for somone can be very hurtful and discouraging to keep going back to help them. The third theory was about getting tired of the good work. This can not be a choice in life. If you are getting tired of the good work then that is something that you are going to have to fix.

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  15. P. Long’s post on Galatians 6:9-10 is extremely relatable and encouraging to those in any capacity of ministry today. Within my context of youth ministry, especially working with kids who have grown up outside the church, Galatians 6:9-10 is especially encouraging and relatable. A key emphasis that Bruce Longenecker and Todd Still make in their book Thinking Through Paul: A Survey of His Life, Letters, and Theology focuses on verse 2 of chapter 6, that we as fellow believers would help carry each other’s burdens (Longenecker, Still. Pg. 103). This is just as applicable to us as Christians today as it was to the Galatian Christians. Without partners and fellow believers to help us in doing ministry, it becomes extremely easy to become discouraged or retreat from doing the ministry we are called to do. P. Long’s three options of why Paul writes Galatians 6:9-10, whichever is true for the Galatians, all three reasons are relatable to Christians today, rather we become discouraged because those we are helping do not respond, that our culture does not put strong emphasis on helping others but to focus on ourselves instead, and or it is just exhaustion from doing the good work. P. Long’s final statement is especially important a biblical concept. Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus states the two greatest commands, to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself which is ministry. P. Long summarizes this stating that it is first it is a household of faith and then moves on outwardly. This is the concept found in Matthew 22, first we ought to have a personal relationship with God and through the empowerment of God, we do the good work of ministry to others. Any an ministry setting, it is vastly important to first care for one’s own relationship with God, allowing Him to over flow your cup, so that thus you are empowered to do the good work.

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    • That was on aspect that I didn’t really think about with having those to be there in the thick of our ministry. It can be such a trying time time if all we are doing is pouring into others and not taking care of ourselves. We need to have those people in our lives to help carry our own burdens and that way we don’t get burnt. Our strength comes from God, but he puts people in our lives to help us be strong when life gets in the way. We do need self care so that we can be the best we can be for God.

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  16. They were supposed to use that support for each other. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2). We need to be there for each other no matter what the cost. We didn’t see Christ putting up reasons why he couldn’t go to the cross for us. The very people that didn’t deserve a love like that, but he did it anyway. This is where we are at when it comes to helping the Christian community and then they go out and help the lost that don’t know Jesus.
    “The result is that Jesus-followers are not to do what they are inclined to do (5:16-17), but instead are to be led by the Spirit (5:18), to “live by the Spirit,” and to “keep in step with the Spirit” (5:25).” (Longenecker 103). This is prior to carrying others burdens, but it still confirms how we are meant to live our life the way Christ would live. We allow God to guide our steps and we take pleasure in being able to glorify him.
    The truth behind why people get discouraged is because to many people go in with the mindset that if they do this then God will bless them. The mind set should never be what will some get, but who can I help next? People get burnt out because they don’t find their joy in helping others without themselves getting in the way. The mind set should be less of us and more of God.

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  17. As Americans, I think we read Galatians 6:9-10 in a way different than what Paul intended. From an American standpoint, I think a lot of individuals would think of the term karma; meaning, if you do good things for others at every opportunity given, good things will happen to you. Now yes, in a way Paul is saying by doing good to others you will reap good fruits, however, Paul means more than just that. He is instructing the Galatians church, and all other Christ-followers, to be led by the Spirit, keeping in step with him (Longenecker, pg. 103). Meaning, help others always and do not grow weary only trying to see what you can get out of it but because it is what the spirit called us to do. If we are true Christians, we want to be led by the spirit. Another thing a lot of individuals would miss in this passage is that Paul was placing heavy emphasis on helping those in the church (ESV, pg 2255). Not that one should ever exclude the outside world, but our allegiance is to God making it clear our primary focus needs to be helping the church (ESV, pg. 2255). Jesus himself made this clear in Matthew 6:33. This can be a hard concept to grasp because we are also called to go out into the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), however, our first concern should be serving the church which will then go out and preach to the world (ESV, pg 2255).

    P Long makes some good points on how doing good while receiving nothing in return is extremely difficult, such as it would be for a farmer planting crops and finding no harvest at the end of the year. If ever found in this situation I think a believer should do two things. First, turn to scripture for encouragement. Hebrews 6:10; 13:16, Luke 6:38, and Proverbs 19:17 are just a few out of many passages that can help lift discouraged spirits. Second, I recommend finding a Christian mentor. Someone who can remind you that you are doing the right thing and help you stick with it even when the storm comes. Hence, scripture will help remind you that you are doing the right thing and a mentor will keep you accountable.

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