More / Book of the Month / Growing in doing good / Galatians 6:1-10/ Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday July 3rd, 2022 / Season of Pentecost

Growing in doing good / Galatians 6:1-10/ Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday July 3rd, 2022 / Season of Pentecost




Growing in doing good / Galatians 6:1-10/ Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Sunday July 3rd, 2022 / Season of Pentecost

Text: Galatians 6:1-10
Theme: Growing in doing good

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Intr – I often like to do good things for people. You do as well, am I right? Ideally, we all do. So I decided to do something nice for kids, mine and perhaps others, trying to do my best with my whole heart. I want to help them with their school stuff, for example with these:

(shows banner with wrong concepts about things

-This is how I’ll teach them geometry (wrong shapes)
-Here’s how I’ll help them with Math: 2 + 2 = 5
-Here’s how I’ll help them with astronomy, showing them how the sun moves around the earth
_this is how I’ll teach them how football is played (wrong rules)

        Why do I see you laughing? You know, I’m doing this out of love for kids. I’m trying as Paul asks us in the Epistle today “do not grow weary of doing good”. Do you think this is wrong? But again, I did it with love and with a good intention….

        Keep this in mind; we will come back to this later.

       “Let us not grow weary of doing good”, Paul asks us today. Does it look to you sometimes that humanity has been growing weary in doing good? Wars, gun violence, polarization, intolerance… Or even in the Church family; difficulty of engagement, family problems, lack of patience sometimes, or other unrest that may arise in the life of Christians in the world. Do you think we Christians are growing weary of doing good, as Paul is asking us not to do in today’s Epistle?

 1 – Growing weary

We could start by asking first: what makes one grow weary in doing good? We could point to external problems: the times in which we live in; the growing secularization, individualization, and indifference of our world. Those may have a part in the mix. I’d rather look inside though. For changes, actions, good actions in the life of a Christian come from inside out, and not the other way around. Here’s a list of reasons that might play a part in it:

-When we think it all depends on us – anthropocentrism. We will grow weary very quickly;
-When we think all depends on God – indifference and determinism. Then we overlook Bible passages that prompt us to action in faith;
-When we lose sight of what “good” is, according to the Word;
-When we face hard times without a sight of hope and future.

        You might have noticed that I didn’t include any of these on the list: health problems, financial difficulties, difficulties in relationships, joblessness, anxiousness, fear, times of trouble and war. For none of these prevent you from doing good, as long as you are grounded on what good is, and what types of good things you can do. For example, praying for somebody, sending a text message of giving words of encouragement, forgiving somebody – those are as good works as donating millions to charity; and even better than helping somebody as a virtue signaling opp.

       But still: what is good, and where do we look for, what do we do when we don’t want to grow weary, but content and joyful in doing good?

 2 – Growing

     What is the first and most important good we can do to any person? To lead them to Christ, to lead them to the Cross – “the only reason for our boasting.” It doesn’t seem to be so before the World, but you and I know what happens to a person who dies in their sin, disconnected from Christ.  It doesn’t look good for their eternal destination. You really want to have them getting to know the answer to that problem.

        In order to do this you don’t need to be a pastor, a theologian, a person of great memory to dump a slew of Bible passages during coffee at Tim Horton’s. You don’t need to be prepared in outstanding skills – even though learning and training is never too much. What you need to be is a redeemed Child living faith in daily life. What you need to be is a person whose life shows a cruciform Sanctification[1] as you live – that is, your faith in action is shaped by the Cross of Christ, by faith in Christ; by Christ. So simple and so complicated.

      Does that mean you’ll try to be perfect, so your friends see how good you are and then they’ll believe in Christ? Not at all, because that is not possible. Living in the shape of Christ’s Cross means:
-You are a sinner in need of forgiveness;
-You are a forgiven sinner trying your best to reflect Christ’s light in your life;
_You are a forgiven sinner who goes back constantly to the source of your forgiveness, strength, and peace so you don’t grow weary of doing good.  

        Where is the source of strength and power for that? Sometimes we may think that now that once we are saved at a point of time in the past, now it on us to walk in life living faith and trying to do good, having God as co-pilot for any emergency. Or a hand in time of need, like those people by the road during a marathon extending a cup of water. The main job is on your shoulders though.

       However, that is not the best approach, unless we really want to grow weary of doing good. We could think of our life in faith like this illustration I read the other day: a Nascar race. Cars run around for hours, and every so often they go for a pit stop. Refuel, change tires, overall check if needed. We run our life’s race daily (Sanctification), but we need a constant return to the source (Justification).[2]

       As we go out in our week, in our life, we try the best we can. But we need constant pit stops back in Jesus’ Word and Sacraments so we are remembered we are baptized, we are saved; we are nourished and guided by Him. He is the source of all we are, need and do. The Church is the special place to do these pit stops; but they can happen anywhere and everywhere.

        Still one question may remain: “Pastor, Paul invites us to do good; but it has become increasingly good to figure out and know what good is, even to give good advice. Sometimes what people share as good doesn’t really match with what we know from Scriptures. Love is love, we get that all the time, but what is to love after all? What is good? As long as you feel good about doing good, then that’s what good is?”

        As Christians, we have and objective source and foundation for the good we do – not inside our feelings or inside the feelings of spirit of the time - but inside God’s Word. Paul points us to the answer, for example, in the last chapters of Romans. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Where does our live for our neighbour stem from, how do we know that what we are practicing of something good? From God’s commandments; from God’s word. “In Romans 13:8‒10, “when Paul admonishes those who have been born anew to do good works, he holds up before them precisely the Ten Commandments” (FC VI 21) by citing four of them. In this way, the law reaches the loving “fullness” God lovingly intends. [3]

        Let’s go back to our banner (shows the other side, where love, good and right are anchored in the Word of God)

        Perhaps you found funny what I said about helping kids because since you have the reference, since you know the rules that govern those things, you know how I got them all wrong. But what if I defined what the rules are, based on what I feel or what I think? Then you’d have nothing to do with that. You would have to accept this as my truth.   The words are there, and now I apply a meaning to them.

       This is what happens to Faith, Love, and Good, when there is no source of meaning for them. It’s hard to know what they mean, and anyone might feel free to add to them the desired meaning of their own.

        As Christians, we don’t take the words and latch on whatever meaning to them later. We bring meaning to the words that we use.[4] This is what we do when we search the Scriptures and learn that doing good from the Christian perspective is latched on to God’s commandments, Law and Gospel in the broad and narrow sense. God’s teaching. Every time you want to define an action as good, latch it on to God’s commandments, to the fruits of the spirit, to the Cross; to Christ. “If love is cut free from any commandments, it easily dissolves into sentimentality, and virtually any course of action can be defined as “loving.”[5]. Like is said in the beginning, you would be constrained to accept my definitions out of my sentiments of love and good. But you could say then: if you learn the governing rule, that is an even bigger show of love for the kids, for you will be teaching them the right things. So if you go into the World and bring the real meaning of those words to people around you, that’s how real love is demonstrated, and that’s how real good is done to them. No loose concepts, but words firmly attached to the Word.

     Using Paul’s analogy of the sowing and reaping: anything in the World that looks good but is not connected to God’s law is not really good. Don’t spread those seeds. Anything that seems to the world not as a good thing, but you know it is firmly attached to God’s law and Gospel is something good. Don’t grow weary of doing these.[6] Those are the right seeds to sow which will yield an eternal harvest.[7]

        Back to the 4 reasons that may make us grow weary of doing good:

-When we think it all depends on us – look to the One who is our joy and our strength
-When we think all depends on God – look to the privilege he gave us to be sent into the world sharing Law and Gospel, as we saw Him sending the 72 disciples in the Gospel;
-When we lose sight of what “good” is, according to the word – we can always come back to word and Sacraments, for there is no better ground, no better good than this, and there is no better source for our doing good.
-When we face hard times without a sight of hope and future – we can fix our eyes in Jesus who promises not only good hope of a good future – but the only hope of the best future we can have.

Cc – Is the world getting tired of doing good? The reason may be that the concept of what is good is slowly deteriorating and growing thin. In Christ and His Spirit we can keep growing in doing good[8] – which for us has a solid, trustworthy and eternal foundation. Yes, it’s hard sometimes. It’s not even rewarding from human perspective. We can’t even say we’re doing this to earn cookie points for salvation. Salvation is for free. But remember: God’s Grace excludes earning. But Grace doesn’t exclude effort. It invites us to live our faith in daily life. Continue to sow the good fruits of the Spirit. Let us grow content and joyful of doing good.

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[1] Leopoldo Sanchez, Spirit Sculptor - Models of Sanctification from Spirit Christology, IVP Academic, 2019

[2] Leopoldo Sanchez, Spirit Sculptor - Models of Sanctification from Spirit Christology, IVP Academic, 2019

[3] Michael Middendorf, “The New Obedience,” Concordia Journal 41, no. 3 (2015): 19. On the same page: ““Paul’s use of the ἀγάπη word group in Romans provides helpful validation. Thus far, except for 8:28, every use speaks of the love of God and Christ for us (5:5, 8; 8:35, 37, 39; 9:18, 25). But that changes in 12:9 where Paul begins a description of the believer’s authentic love in action toward others, a topic which runs all the way through Romans 13:10. In keeping with AC VI, the Formula of Concord refers to Romans 13:5, 6 and 9 as evidence that “good works are necessary”; these passages indicate “what we are bound to do because of God’s ordinance, commandment, and will” (FC SD IV 14)... The specific commands cited help Christians discern how love expresses itself in specific situations, but the other moral norms of the law also help believers define love... If love is cut free from any commandments, it easily dissolves into sentimentality, and virtually any course of action can be defined as “loving.”

[4] Joel Okamoto,  “Darkness Long in Coming: Christians and the Language of Politics in the dark.” Concordia Journal 46, no. 4 (2020): 41-55.

[5] Thomas Schreiner, Romans, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, vol. 6 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998), 694. C. E. B. Cranfield, in A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, International Critical Commentary, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1975), 679, says. “We most certainly need the summary to save us from missing the wood for the trees and from understanding the particular commandments in a rigid, literalistic, unimaginative, pedantic, or loveless way. We are equally in need of the particular commandments, into which the law breaks down the general obligation to love, to save us from resting content with vague, and often hypocritical sentiments.”

[6] Paul brings up the analogy about sowing and reaping. We like to quote it in multiple contexts, and it seems to work for all of them; but not always. We sometimes witness circumstances in which people don’t seem to reap what they sowed, at least from our point of view. If you are sowing wind you should expect to reap a tornado, some say, but there are many people who get away with it, breezing through life even when they don’t sow good seeds. People sowing discord not always reap problems. People sowing greed not always end up poor. People sowing power struggles not always get destitute of their power. And so on.                Where is the context in which 100% of times that happens? The one Paul is using, the household of faith.
Sarx – If you sow flesh, you will certainly reap problems, disconnection from Christ, condemnation
From chapter 5 we have the list of the things of the flesh we want to avoid sowing. “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”
Whenever we find ourselves or others on this side of things, we are called to help in a spirit of kindness. There is forgiveness, when repentance and faith overflow in a believer’s heart.
Pneuma – if you sow in the Spirit, you will certainly reap Grace, forgiveness, peace, and life eternal.
The list of the fruits of the Spirit that we definitely want to sow is also in chapter 5: “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.”
Whenever we find ourselves on this side of things, we are called to give glory to God and to be thankful for the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

[7] Now when you share your faith in words, actions and avoiding things that are not good, when people listen to you, they listen to Jesus and the Father. And if they reject you, they are ultimately rejecting both as well. When you share Christ in your life, you are the vehicle of God’s message. Is this a reason to boast? Not for a minute. As Paul says, our only boast is in Christ’s Cross.

[8] Apology to Article 4 confesses this about the new obedience: We teach that rewards have been offered and promised to the works of the faithful. We teach that good works are meritorious—not for the forgiveness of sins, grace, or justification (for we obtain these only by faith) but for other physical and spiritual rewards in this life and in that which is to come, as Paul says (1 Cor 3:8), “Each shall receive his wages according to his labor.” (Ap AC IV 194)

 

Source of the image inside the picture


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