Don't Lose Heart

by Wayne Barber

Don't Lose Heart

Galatians 6:9 says "…let us not lose heart in doing good." The Apostle Paul's warning here is to those who are doing good. It is like earlier in the epistle when he referred to the fact that they were running well (5:7). There is always the flesh to contend with, isn't there? The word "doing" is poiéo, which is in the present tense. As a lifestyle, this person is consistently doing good. The word "good" is kalós-different from the word for "good" found in verses 6 and 10, where the word is agathós, which stresses the benefit that the good brings to someone…basically the what that one does. But kalós seems to stress the inherent motive in the good that one does: the why. The two words complement each other, each bringing out different emphases.

The "inherent motive" of kalós in this context would be the sowing in the right field. We only have two fields in which to sow our choices: the field of the "flesh" (5:10-21) and the field of the Spirit (5:22,23). Verse 6:7 tells us that God is not mocked, that whatever we sow we will reap. The inherent motive of the one doing good here would be the heart of one who is experiencing God's love through an obedient lifestyle. So the good in verse 9 is more "why" than "what."

But, as Paul would remind us, the flesh wars against the Spirit. The trap is our wanting to see the results of what we are doing. This is the temptation of all our flesh.

"And let us not lose heart in doing good." The words "lose heart" are a translation of ekkakéo, from ek, out of; and kakós, fleshly evil-ergo, "to turn to the flesh, to revert to the flesh which is evil." Now that is an interesting thought! What could make us turn to the flesh or give in to evil when we are trusting God and doing good?

The verse goes on to supply the answer: "for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary." Paul shows us that growing weary is linked to reaping of what has been sown. Wow! When we are doing good, we are sowing in the right field…trusting in Christ…resting in Him. But, we must remember that we don't reap overnight! It is when we want immediate results that we turn back to the flesh.

Then what could it possibly mean that we "turn back to the flesh" or "grow weary"? It has to be that we choose to go back to the "do it ourselves" mentality. We try to produce the results by our own efforts instead of waiting on God to do what He alone can do.

What the Galatians did illustrates this. When they turned back to the "religious" way of doing things, the flesh was involved. It seemed easy to measure what one was doing because the results could be seen.

It's interesting how ekkakéo, to grow weary or lose heart, is used in Scripture. It appears in unexpected places- in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13, for example, where it refers to doing the mundane things such as taking care of one's family. When the mundane things in life get boring-when making a living and doing what must be done grows boring-there is always the temptation to "retreat to the flesh," which is to make something happen.

Ekkakéo is used in 2 Corinthians 4:1 speaking of ministry: "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart." When we recognize that ministry is something that is received from God, and we live in that truth, we do not lose heart. Flesh and "received ministry" do not coexist. It is when we forget this and tend to go back to the old "I've got to do something" mentality that we lose heart.

We have retreated to the flesh, to evil. And, as Galatians would tell us, the flesh always produces a "weariness." "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary" (v. 6:9). The last two words, "grow weary," translate a different word: eklúo, meaning "to loose out of, to let go, to faint." When we are sowing in the right field, the Spirit energizes us to do what we do. The moment we turn back to the flesh, the energy is gone and we fall by the wayside. They call that "burnout."

After serving for a number of years as a located teacher/preacher, Wayne Barber now travels as a conference speaker, based in Reno, Nevada. He can be reached at mail@toliveischrist.org or www.toliveischrist.org.