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Wednesday
Jan202016

Let Us Do Good To All - Galatians 6:9, 10

Throughout the letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul has emphasized the doctrines of the gospel of grace.  That is, your works, no matter how good, are not meritorious in the least.  But lest we misunderstand the passionate burden of the inspired apostle, he ensures that we know that good deeds are a proper and necessary part of the Christian life.  And he even encourages you to not grow weary while "doing good."  This is a very general exhortation and should be understood as an overall direction to do good in all kinds of circumstances, but what is a good work?  First, a good work must be according to God's will as revealed in His Word.  For example, giving money to a destitute and unrepentant drunk is not a good work no matter how destitute he is.  Second, your motivation ought to be your love of God, not so that you may gain some personal advantage in reputation or power.  Third, it needed to be an outward expression of your faith in Christ.  A good work is not performed out of a sense of mere obligation.  Lastly, your goal needs to be God's glory.  If you seek the approval of men, as the Lord told the Pharisees, you have your reward.  All of this is beautifully summarized in the Heidelberg Confession Q/A 91. "What are good works?  Those only which proceed from true faith, and are done according to the Law of God, unto His glory; and not such as rest on our own opinion or the commandments of men."  You should also note that the admonition to not grow weary implies that we can grow weary even in doing good.  There are perhaps thousands of reasons why we may despair of doing good works, but the apostle provides an antidote:  "...in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."  The important thing to notice is that it is in due season.  There is always a delay between the sowing and the harvest.  This spiritual harvest may not even be in this life.  This is an exercise in faith.  But if you believe that the Lord is faithful, it makes despair in doing good much less likely.  So let us not faint, but persevere to the end in doing good.
And as the text says in verse 10, "therefore."  Within the context of the book, there are at least three "therefores":  1) Because you have been instructed in the most holy faith…(Good theology), 2) Because you are the recipient of divine charity and grace…(Right perspective), 3) Because you are a steward of all that you have received…(Acknowledgment of God's sovereignty over all that is and His claims on even you).  it is a necessary consequence of these things that we​​ ought to pursue "doing good" as we have the opportunity.  The Lord will often present to you and me the opportunity to do good and you and I are to pursue those opportunities.  And as the text says, "let us do good to all."  The general obligation to do good extends to all persons in all conditions.  It is not confined to only those we like or those we agree with.  We are even to do good to our enemies!  Let us be honest:  in our reformed tradition, we have had from the beginning a very complicated relationship with "good works".  But what does the Scripture say?  From one source we learn that 1) Good works are a testimony to the outside world.  Titus 2:6-8, "Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you."  2) Good works are the natural result of redemption and fulfill a divine purpose for us.  Titus 2:11-14, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works."  3) Good works are a practical and temporal expression of the true and pure faith.  Titus 3:8-9, "This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.  But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless."  4) The performance of good works is to be perpetual; you will never come to the place where they are not part of your life.  Titus 3:14-15, "And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.  All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen."
The apostle also tells us that we ought to discriminate in our good deeds.  This may be startling to our ears, but that is what the text teaches.  "...let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith."  When having to choose who to serve, we are to discriminate in favor of those who are believers.  It is not that we exclude the others, but preference is to be shown in doing good to others who are members of this spiritual family.  This admonition points you to a deep truth:  the good works which we ought lovingly to perform amongst ourselves is based upon our unique and precious relationship with each other in Christ.  As we read in Ephesians 2:17-22, "And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.  Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."  All of us have come from outside, and all of us have been adopted into the family of God.  All of us have been strangers, and all of us have been graciously converted into a divine habitation.  And seeing this is so, how can we not joyfully maintain good works?
All For Him,
Pastor Schlegel

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