7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. … 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give upGalatians 6: 7 & 9 (ESV)
I just finished writing a blog post about burnout and recovering from getting burnt out. It reminded me of a sermon I gave recently at Balboa Union Church – based on the above reading from Galatians 6. We are challenged to not grow weary of doing good — in spite of the challenges.
The challenge – do good
That day, I spoke of the challenges of doing good and what is right in Panama – where we are surrounded daily by corruption and stories of corruption. If we look at the past 25 years of government – whether at a local or national level – we can see corruption. It matters not who was the President and which political party was in power.
New department directors or Ministers would come in, and sweep through. Firing all employees that they thought might be corrupt and hire an entirely new staff! There were honest attempts at stamping out the corrupt practices. But, because of a totally new staff, who didn’t know what was going on and how things were done, corrupt businessmen and those who needed things to work quickly and smoothly in their favour were willing to “grease the wheels” to make things go faster.
Sometimes corruption is asking for required documents to be overlooked, or falsified documents to be accepted – but many times corruption is simply asking that a file be placed at the top of the pile. We can sit around for hours and debate which government or even government department is worse – but to what end?
For me – in law practice in Panama – the truth was “I got tired”. I got tired of the game. I got tired of trying to do things the right way, in the right line… with the right documents. I got weary.
A large part of my decision to change careers was this weariness and being tired. I’ve been back in Panama since 1996, practicing law since 2001 — and I cannot see this changing. Because every time honest public officials are employed, corrupt businessmen are on hand to corrupt them. And then we have a new round of corrupt officials.
And so, while it is promised that we will each reap what we sow – and that the Divine gives power to the faint… I was done with practicing law in this environment.
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?Isaiah 40:28-31 (RSV)
The…. Creator … does not faint or grow weary,
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.…
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
And while we are promised that no temptation is more than what we are able to bear, the weariness of fighting the system sometimes can be too much.
What about this corruption?
Of course, if we look back through many of the scriptures, we find that this corruption is not a modern day phenomena. It is not simply something that happens in Latin America or Africa. We find mention of corruption and evil men throughout Proverbs and the Psalms. If we look harder, we will find mention of it in almost every part of the Bible.
Fret not yourself because of the wicked,Psalm 37: 1 (2-3)
be not envious of wrongdoers!
Even more so, if we look at Psalm 73:
3 For I was envious of the arrogant,Psalm 73: 3-5
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4 For they have no pangs;
their bodies are sound and sleek.
5 They are not in trouble as other men are;
they are not stricken like other men.
So… is money the problem?
We see the prosperity of the wicked and how many times prosperity throughout the Bible is read to be condemned. For example, Jesus says a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” We see the prosperity of the wicked and how many times prosperity throughout the Bible is read to be condemned. For example, Jesus says
it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.Matthew 19:24
And then in Timothy we read:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.1 Timothy 6:10
So, it’s easy to get all caught up with thinking that prosperity & money are the problem. But are they really?
It says “the love of money” – not money. Money is simply a currency – it is like electricity, moving from here to there. Lighting up one house, but not another. The problem is when we love money – then it becomes “a root” of all kinds of evil. It becomes a craving that takes hold and takes our attention onto other things.
Caring for others – family & charity
In the very same Timothy that people quote about the love of money, we also find:
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.1 Timothy 5:8
How will you provide for your relatives and especially the members of your household without money? If you remember – the families of the time when Timothy was written were large, extended families. Not the nuclear family that we consider nowadays. If you were to provide for your uncles, cousins and extended family – your “relatives” – how would you do so?
The Bible also calls for us to look after the widows, orphans and the sick. Where does that food, drink and roof come from?
Even when we look at Proverbs 31, and the Virtuous Woman, we find a woman of means. Consider the following verses:
She rises while it is yet nightProverbs 31 – The Virtuous Woman
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
So – she has servants, she has profits and savings with which to buy land and plant it, she is profitable in trading, she is generous to the poor and she is an active merchant.
Do not grow weary of doing what is right
The problem isn’t the making of money – it’s HOW we make our money. Are we choosing to live rightly in every way? Are we staying off the path of corruption and keeping our hearts right?
This is not about judging others – it is inward looking. Carefully examining our inward motives of my heart – no one else’s – and only being responsible and answering for ourselves. Did we act uprightly in what we chose and decided?
This has nothing to do with outward appearances!
In fact, in Isaiah, we are warned about doing all the right things – religiously – and yet not doing the right things!
Isaiah 58: 3-7 (emphasis added)
3 ‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast
you seek your own pleasure,
and oppress all your workers.
4 Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
will not make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is such the fast that I choose,
a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
and a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Rediscovering compassion & passion
When we start “going through the motions” of our spiritual practice – when we become religious, rather than remembering the purpose… then we grow weary & tired!
We grow tired and weary when we begin to focus on “I have to…“, forgetting that Spirit lives WITHIN us. We aren’t doing everything just from our human strength and will – we are co-creating with I AM.
but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.Galatians 6:8
Like a computer that plugs into the internet and has available to it all the knowledge and information from all parts of the world… we have available to us that same strength and power.
Are we plugged in?
Do you recharge your batteries daily – the same way that you recharge your phone? When you phone says 15%, 10% and 5%…. aren’t you searching for the charger?
Do you recharge spiritually – not just physically and mentally? How do you reconnect and ensure that your cup is overflowing?
What level of awareness do you have of needing to recharge?
Choosing to do right, and not growing weary…
Every day we face the challenge – of doing right without growing weary.
- This challenge may show up embodied as a two-year-old… the same way that it may be embodied by a 78-year-old that is in their terrible twos!
- The challenge to do right may show up in your work, or it may show up as someone that is horribly rude to you.
- It may be someone that takes longer to understand instructions, or that needs you to repeat the instructions for them because they weren’t listening or paying attention the first time.
- Choosing to do right may be the opportunity to be kind and patient when others around are you are impatiently and you could “rightly” get annoyed.
- Or it might be the opportunity to listen to a colleague and help them find a solution, even though “it’s not my job”
Whatever your challenge is to do right – I invite you to remember two things:
- Recharge – as often as needed – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually!
- Fill your life with support from others that are also interested in being love and compassion in the world – that believe that walking in the Spirit means showing up daily for others as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.