ˇ°SPIRITUAL GROWTH: DO GOODˇ± By Pastor YAU
Text: Galatians 6:1-10 October 20, 2013.
INTRODUCTION: Two most misunderstood concepts of spiritual growth:
1) It's all about grace: Certainly we are saved by the grace of God, not by any merit of man. (Eph 2:8-9) Some take this as a permit to live their life as reckless as everyone else in the world, believing that the grace of God will cover and forgive anything and everything they do. In fact, the Bible spends more volume in teaching Christians how to live their life than how to be saved. God wants us to be saved so we can be the light of the world to show others the path to God and salvation. (Matt 5:14-16)
2) It's all about God: Many Christians believe that spiritual maturity is all on the pursuit of a relationship with God and little or nothing about relationship with man. These people mystify spiritual growth as in the spirit with God and little with everyday life with man. They focus so much in pleasing God but neglect relationship with people. But God wants us not just love Him, but also love our neighbors: family, classmates, coworkers, people in the church and others in the community where we live. Truly spiritual people must have both relationships strong and vibrant.
Therefore, DOING GOOD is an important sign of spiritual growth.
WHAT IS DOING GOOD? If we want to list all about ˇ°do goodˇ± in the Bible, it may take a whole book. Let us pick a few important and common points from the Bible to show us what is do good in our life.
1) Do what God sees as good: ˇ°God saw everything that he had created and it was very good.ˇ± (Genesis 1:31) The word ˇ°goodˇ± was used to show us how God looked at the things he had created in all the six days of creation account in the first chapter of the Bible. Using this as a criteria of good is important because we all have different criteria of good or bad based on our personal feeling and judgment. Either do good to ourselves or to others, we must allow God to be the standard as measurement. One of the signs of spiritual growth is if we live our life or do things God sees as good.
2) Do what the least needs: ˇ°I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.ˇ± (Matt 25:40) Too often we care only about do good things for God and we certainly need to, but God also wants us to do good for the least, the unworthy, the low and outcast, the helpless and the vulnerable. It is when we love and care for the needy, the defenseless, we show the true color of spiritual growth. True spiritual growth is not just read the Bible, go to church, it is also about care and love others.
3) Do what is good for self: ˇ°Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, store in mind all these things.ˇ± (Phil 4:8) This is about building our mindset with quality thoughts, values and character. True spiritual growth is not about rituals but about energizing our life, our mind and our conscience with things God is happy to see in us. When Paul asked us to give our body to God as a living sacrifice, (Romans 12:1) we need to give him the best of all we can give. Don't waste your time, energy, resource and potential in things that are not good for your spiritual life and the fruits you may produce for the Lord.
SUGGESTIONS ON DOING GOOD: Do good is a huge topic. It's hard to include all the good we can do. Let us find a few from 6:1-8.
1) Restore someone in sin: ˇ°Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.ˇ± (6:1) In our real life as Christians, we all could be caught in sin sometimes. Instead of talking behind their back with better-than-thou attitude or pretend nothing is wrong, we should try to restore him/her back to the right track with God. To allow someone to continue live in sin without doing anything to restore his/her relationship with God is NOT true Christian love and therefore it is not good. It is never easy to help someone live in sin willfully, but that is what God wants us to do good for that person. If we love him, we need to help him get back with God.
2) Support someone in need: ˇ°Carry each other's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.ˇ± (6:2) Burdens of life is a common phenomena to all of us. No one may count all the burdens we may have. As we are in the family of God, we are to share and carry burdens of each other. This includes burdens of all kind: family, personal, emotional, financial, children, spiritual or everyday life. Burdens means difficult times, problem times. We are to help each other to carry their problems and meet their needs by showing support, care, love, godly counsel and prayer. This will take both side to trust each other and takes spiritual and emotional wisdom to help one another. Being lonely to go through life in this world is very difficult. Lend a hand in time of need as family. When a burden is shared, the weight is cut in halves.
3) Treat someone with honor: ˇ°Anyone receives instruction in the word must share his all good things with the instructor.ˇ± (6:6) Biblically, this verse is about material support to those who do instruction of God's word like pastors and teachers. The basis of this verse is about respect and honor Christians should show to those who minister the teaching of God's word for spiritual growth. From what I have learned through my 45 years in ministry, the most desirable treatment is honor and respect. That includes all teachers in all church ministries. When we honor and respect those whom God calls to help us grow in spiritual pursuit, we are not just doing good to them, we are doing good to ourselves as well because we honor and respect God's instructions to do so. Showing honor and respect is more important than material support.
GUIDELINES OF DOING GOOD: (6:9-10)
1) Never become weary: ˇ°Let us not become weary in doing good.ˇ± (6:9) To become weary is to become weak, to lag behind, to slow down and risk of giving up like running a marathon. Most of us start our spiritual journey in doing good with all the vigor, enthusiasm, excitement and joy. But after some time, some may grow weary, lose the desire and energy to continue. We begin to feel numb to challenges, opportunities and the joy of following God's way in our life. We may be distracted by our own interests, too busy looking after our own needs, and forget the importance of spiritual growth and do good. Paul gives warning of lagging behind in Hebrews 4:1, ˇ°Let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen behind.ˇ± There are many temptations, hindrances that may pull us back from doing good, but we are to push for-ward as Paul said in his spiritual growth, non-stop. (Phil 4:13)
2) Never give up hope: ˇ°For at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.ˇ± (6:9b) This is one of the reasons some of us stop do good: we don't see results (harvest). It isn't too hard to start doing good for someone or something, but it is so hard to continue doing that when we don't see any light at the end of the tunnel. We wonder how much longer or more we need to continue doing this. Sometimes, our good work may never bring harvest we can see or love to see. Other time, we may think our investment of love and resources is just like pouring water on a rock. Still in some cases, our doing good brings us not just headache, but heart-ache and we vow never to do it again. No body know when is the proper time, but we need to trust God that he will bring forth harvest in his time. Our hope should not be in the person or situation but in the Lord who sustains us to continue do good.
3) Never miss any opportunity: ˇ°Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good.ˇ± (6:10) For the maximum good on both the doer and the receiver of good deeds, we need to seize every opportunity to do that. This includes time to see needs, time to meet the needs. We may not have opportunity to do good everyday, people are not in need of support or kindness everyday. So if God places you at the time and place, like that Good Samaritan, never allow that precious opportunity to slip through your fingers by hesitation, caution or any other excuses, because you may not have the blessing to be the one to do something for someone. Don't hesitate, don't count the costs, don't be stingy to give help, and don't be afraid to step in. To do this, we need to have our eyes and hearts open at all time, so, we will be ready to do good when God leads us to see the needs. Don't miss opportunity that brings you regret later.
4) Never miss any person: ˇ°Let us do good to all people, especially to the family of believers.ˇ± (6:10b) Two things we need to focus in doing good: a) Be ready to do good for all people regardless of what you think. Too often we tend to do good to those whom we think are worthy of receiving our good will and support. Remember God gives sunshine and rain to all kinds of people. God didn't call us to judge but to do good. The Good Samaritan never asked if the dying man is worthy of his good deed. b) Pay special attention to those in our church, believers in God's family. Something I frequently see but don't understand: Some Christians are very kind and generous to outsiders but they are so mean, critical and demanding to fellow believers in the church. This also happens to our family. Why are we more forgiving and nice to outside people but so mean and critical to those in our family? It is so wrong we do that. God specifically wants us to care people in our family be it of blood or of faith. When God puts us in a family, he expects us to love them, support them, care and do good to them.
1) Getting to know God's heart: ˇ°Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like this: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.ˇ± (Matthew 22:37-40) How do we define spiritual growth? We need to define as the Lord has defined: Love the Lord and love our neighbors. God deserves our utmost love and sacrifice, and so is our fellow brothers and sister. In a way, how much good we do for our fellow man measures our level of spiritual growth.
2) Getting to know people's needs: In recent months, we see people in our church go through many uphill battle in their life. People who have health problems, family and marriage, losing jobs, problems in school and at work. We also see people giving support, love, care and concerns. People cooked food for them, visited them, help their family and children, just to list a few good things they did to demonstrate the Christian spiritual growth. If you keep your eyes open, you will see there are needs all around you. If you keep your hearts open, you will step in to do something for them. In doing this, we fulfill the commandment the Lord has for us: Love the Lord our God and love our neighbors.