Devotion for the Week...
Have you ever been working on a quilt for so long that you just got tired of it and put it away for a while? The Noah's Ark quilt I started for Aiden when he was a baby took 6 years to finish, mostly because I kept putting it aside for months at a time.
I hand quilted everything back then which meant big quilts took forever. Even after working on it for a week or more, I still felt like I wasn't getting any closer to being finished and I'd want to switch back to something where I could see my progress.
There are lots of things in life that we get tired of doing, but we can't always just set them aside and ignore them. I'm thinking especially about people who are caregivers for aging parents or a spouse. It can be exhausting and the need can feel overwhelming, while the caregiver's resources of strength, energy and even patience can feel completely inadequate. Serving others is often a thankless job, whether we are caring for small children, teaching in a school or serving on some committee. We don't always feel appreciated by those we are serving and not feeling appreciated can sap the energy right out of a person. You don't want to keep doing what you're doing if you feel no one appreciates your efforts.
In Galatians Paul wrote, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers"(Galatians 6:9, 10). God sees our tendency to get tired and want to give up. He understands that some things we do are just plain exhausting, but those things are often exactly what He wants us to do. After all, we are meant to be servants to those around us, following the example of Jesus Himself who "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).
Understanding our weariness and desire to give up, God offers us a reason to continue doing good. "For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (v.9). We don't know what that harvest will be, but there will be some benefit from all the good we do if we do not give up. Maybe it will be a change in someone's life because they see love and grace in us. Maybe it will be a restored relationship. We can't know what will come of our efforts, but we can know that nothing will come of us doing nothing. Just as Aiden's quilt would not be finished if I had given up on the quilting, so the promised harvest will not happen if we give up on doing good.
What good should we be doing? That seems to be a pretty broad category. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (v. 10). 'As we have opportunity' suggests that we should be alert and watching for those opportunities to present themselves. Sometimes they will only be small opportunities, easily missed, like the chance to offer a smile and friendly chitchat to a cashier. Other times they will be bigger opportunities, like being caregiver to a parent for the last few years of their life. Whatever opportunities we have, we should be doing good.
'Let us do good to all people' seems pretty self-explanatory. All people. Even the ones we don't like much. Even the ones who don't seem to deserve it much. Maybe especially those people.
'Especially to those who belong to the family of believers' is like saying I should serve my own family more than I serve the people I meet in town during the day. Fellow believers are our spiritual family members, and we should acknowledge those family ties by making a special effort to do good to and for them.
So, are we alert, watching for opportunities to do good to those around us? It won't always be easy, but if we don't give up we can look forward to reaping whatever harvest God has in store for us.