Galatians 6:9 (ESV) … “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
Nobody who plants something in the garden expects to reap a harvest a week later. One of the fundamental laws of sowing and reaping is patience. It takes time for the seed to germinate, to put out its first little roots and its first green shoot. Then it takes more time for the plant to develop and grow. Then it has to flower, and the fruit has to form. It takes a whole growing season for annuals; it takes years for trees. The one requirement imposed impartially on everyone is patience.
We are in such a hurry. Our fast-paced age encourages impatience. Whereas our grandparents traveled by horse and buggy—or, at the fastest, by train—we board a jet and travel thousands of miles in a few hours. We cross time zones as casually as our fathers crossed the street. This is the age of fast foods, instant communication, high-pressure business, and forced produce that is urged to swift maturity, picked today in California, and sold tomorrow in Japan. We have learned how to rush even Mother Nature herself.
But God refuses to be hurried. He always takes His time. We cannot speed up the rotation of the earth upon its axis or hurry the planet on its journey around the sun. We cannot shorten a day or alter the mathematical alternation of day and night. We can shorten our workweek, but we cannot shorten a real week nor abbreviate a year. God has His own pace for accomplishing His purposes. Although He Himself transcends all time, He knows the value of time—for us. He has made us creatures of time. It takes time to mature Christian character just as it takes time to grow a rose.
The problem that Paul confronts here is the problem that we all face at times—we get weary in well doing. So many factors are involved in this particular equation. Our motives and efforts are often misunderstood and unappreciated. People are so slow to respond, or they react to our efforts with anger or indifference. The flesh gets in the way. Our own physical resources can become depleted. Satan puts discouraging thoughts into our minds. Our own spiritual life has its own highs and lows. Other people can get in the way.
The word for weary here is ekkakeō. It can be translated “to lack courage,” “to lose heart,” or “to be fainthearted.” “Well doing” is kalopoieō, “to do well,” or “to act honorably.” Paul was a great encourager. He is constantly urging us not to slack off in our efforts to cultivate the life of Christ.
“In due season we shall reap, if we faint not,” Paul assures us. “To every thing there is a season, and a time,” Solomon observed (Eccl. 3:1–8). God’s purposes take time to ripen. Jonathan requested that David, come what may, would show kindness to his family (1 Sam. 20:15–17). The years came and went, but when he at last was securely established on the throne and Jonathan was long since dead, David reached out in love to Mephibosheth and treated him as a member of the royal family (2 Sam. 9). But there was a time—when Mephibosheth was in distant Lo-debar, hiding for fear of his life—when it must have seemed that Jonathan’s request would never be granted. How often it is so with our prayers for our children at the throne of “great David’s greater Son.”
Think of how many times David himself narrowly escaped death at the hands of King Saul. On some twenty-four different occasions, in one way or another, directly or indirectly, King Saul tried to murder David, whom Samuel had anointed to be Israel’s next king. But David was unwearying in his patient refusal to take the law into his own hands. On two distinct occasions, he had Saul in his power but resolutely refused to smite his enemy although some of his men urged him to do so. Even when David had his own private army of guerillas, he would never fight the king. He chose rather to flee.
The years came and went. The throne had been promised to David by divine decree; yet Saul—his mad rages, jealousy, and senseless hatred notwithstanding—continued to reign. David had to stand by and watch the kingdom degenerate. He had to watch while evil men whispered their slanders into Saul’s ears. He had to watch helplessly as hereditary enemies laid God’s people low. He waited. During this period, he wrote some of his greatest psalms. He grew in grace and increased in the knowledge of God. He formulated his convictions and trained a cadre of able men to help him run the kingdom when the time came. And, in due time, he reaped. His patience was rewarded.