The Both-And of Doing Good

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Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 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. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith. – Galatians 6:1-10

Arkansas Natural Bridge Museum | October 2021

Tom needed a job. But he couldn’t even get an interview. Meanwhile Mary managed to land not only an interview, but a lucrative offer with a solid company – the kind of company every college graduate yearns to work for. It wasn’t her looks. It wasn’t even her brains that got her the job. It was her connections…but her brains didn’t hurt her chances either. Tom, however, didn’t give up. Speaking to one of his friends about the situation he said, “I just don’t want to go hat-in-hand to Mary or anyone to ask for help with my job search. I want to earn this on my own.”

That’s when his friend offered a simple observation, “Isn’t that what friends are for? Wouldn’t you be willing to help Mary if your situation was changed?” The light went on and Tom called Mary. The next week he had three interviews scheduled. Friends came to his aid, and it was a good thing.

As Paul is writing to the Galatian Christians, I don’t think he had job searches in mind. But certainly the idea of “doing good to all people – especially those who are in the family of faith” would include such help. More likely it applied in Paul’s day to basic necessities of life: food, shelter, hospitality, and the warmth of human kindness. Sometimes it might have been a matter of life or death. It would also certainly include helping someone stay on the pathway of faith. 

It is very easy to opt out of helping people in need. Take your pick: too busy. Too tired. Too poor. Too inept. Not really sure what is needed. Maybe sometimes we just don’t care for that brother or sister in need. Maybe even within the family of faith there are those we’d just as soon ignore. 

But the walk of faith is fraught with distractions, temptations, challenges, and missteps. If we think we can go it alone, we’re dangerously mistaken. And if we think others don’t need our help to stay on the straight and narrow, we’re just plain wrong. 

Tom and Mary are fictitious persons. But they’s are real as the Aggie network here in Texas or the good old boys clubs in cities around the country, or the sororities and fraternities that rush the brightest and best. Those can all be good networks to have. They can also be exclusivist in nature. 

Our calling as Jesus followers is to do good to all people, and especially fellow believers. Never, however, does this call for us to close our hearts to anyone in need.   

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