Perhaps you’ve heard of “The Golden Rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In other words, treat others the way you want to be treated. Unfortunately, we can’t always count on other people to do the same. We know that we are to love our enemies, (Matthew 5:43-48) but that doesn’t mean that they will stop being our enemies. Perhaps they will be so overcome by our good attitude, that their attitude will change, but even if it does, it could be a long, slow process. It is possible that how they treat us may never be the way that we treat them.
How then do you explain the promise found in Luke 6:38: Give, and it will be given to you? How do we know that our kindnesses will be returned if we can’t depend on other people to do their part? If people are going to treat us like dirt anyway, why should we bother to go out of our way to be nice to them? The answer is God. Not only should we live as though we are working for God, (Colossians 3:23-24) but God is in control, and He is the One who will reward us for what we do. We can’t count on others to repay us for our good deeds, but we can count on God. He may not repay us as soon as we would like, or in the way that we expect, (Ephesians 3:20) but just as He says that vengeance is His, (Romans 12:19) and He will repay for the hurts we receive, He will also repay us for the kindness we give. (Galatians 6:9)
The Bible not only says that this reward will be given to you, but that it will be given in “good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over”. What does that mean? I am not well-known for my fabulous culinary talent—as a matter of fact, perhaps the opposite is true—but I have attempted to do some baking from time to time. What I figured out from my limited experience is that if you measure brown sugar, you can fit a lot more into the cup if you press it down. The same is true for flour. There seems to be a lot of air mixed with it until you tap it or shake it down. When you press down and shake together, you can fit a lot more in your cup. That’s the way God is willing to give to us, until our cup is overflowing and we can’t hold any more.
Do you ever feel like you want to just quit? I do. For example, right now it is the middle of winter which means cold, grey days and long, dark nights. I am recovering from not one, but two car accidents within the last five weeks. The second didn’t cause more injury, but it did create more hassle in car repairs and insurance paperwork. The injury from the first accident, however, is still causing pain and severe headaches. I have much I want to do, but little strength. Others I love are suffering even more. My aunt has a recently diagnosed inoperable brain tumour. My sister-in-law is in the hospital being injected with harsh anti-rejection medications to try to save her second transplanted kidney. Friends are dealing with work and family issues. Sometimes I wonder, can we not just get a break? Then I remember Galatians 6:9 and that we will be rewarded for our perseverance.
Galatians 6:7-8 tells us that we will reap what we sow. Good seeds will produce a good harvest; bad seeds will produce a bad harvest. Verse 9 tells us that we need to continue to sow those good seeds. We need to be kind and helpful to others, and not give up. Continuing to do good does not mean that we need to do everything. We need to prioritize the things that consume our time and energy, but we also need to be sure that it isn’t all focused on ourselves.
Growing weary is not the same as growing tired. Tired is a physical state that we encounter when we try to fit too much into our lives at the expense of rest. Weary is an attitude of discouragement—we feel like it is just not worth the trouble. Galatians 6:9 tells us that it is worth the trouble. Some rewards will come sooner and some will come later, but this verse promises us that they will come. The agricultural analogy is a good one. Not all crops progress from seed to harvest in the same amount of time—some are ready in months while others take years. It is possible that we will see the rewards for some of our good deeds soon, and it is possible that we won’t see others until eternity, but we are promised that we will see them, and when they come we will realize that God’s timing is perfect. Take heart! Don’t give up!
Something I said in my last blog post (John 1:14, January 7) inspired me to look up Colossians 3:23-24. My question from the passage in John was how would it change your life if Jesus moved in next door? Colossians 3:23 tells us that it doesn’t matter what we are doing, or what human person asked us to do it, we are really working for God.
From the previous verse we see that this passage refers to slaves working for their masters, but in today’s context the principle would apply just as well to employees, children and students. How do you react when your boss asks you to do something that isn’t technically in your job description, or you feel is beneath you? What is a child’s usual response when asked to clean his room? What about students who let other members of the group carry the load on a group project? Would it make a difference if Jesus had asked you to do it? It’s true; your boss’ motives may not be as pure, selfless and forward-thinking as Jesus’ are, but her authority still needs to be respected.
Verse 23 also tells us to work with enthusiasm. The King James version uses the term heartily; the original Greek means from the soul. Now think about this for a minute. When you are doing the dishes or the laundry or taking out the trash, are you doing it with enthusiasm? These are not the most glamourous tasks, but they deserve the best of your ability. They may seem like thankless jobs, because there’s a good chance that no one ever says thank you for doing them, but the Lord will reward you. When you are working for Him, what others think won’t matter to you.
You may not get a raise or promotion by working those overtime hours when your boss asks you to at the last minute. You may not get an A on that group assignment, or a bonus in your allowance for cleaning up your room. Earthly rewards are not always fair or reliable. Sometimes you get praise for what others have done, and sometimes you don’t get the praise you deserve. Sometimes it seems like your efforts are quickly forgotten. God doesn’t forget. Your reward from God will not be based on the amount of talent you have, or how popular you are, or how much money you earned. The reward He gives you will be for your attitude and your faithfulness. Did you give God your very best effort? Jesus will be doing your final performance review; are you ready?