The message of the social gospel, which in emphasizing the meeting of the natural needs of people puts the preaching of the gospel in a subservient role, has so pervaded Christendom today that faithful believers seem forgetful or fearful of the genuine demands of Scripture to be ambassadors of goodness to everyone we meet. Paul states this simple truth unequivocally: “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Let’s briefly note the truth contained in this verse.
1. We have a limited time to do good. “While we have opportunity,” Paul urges. Certainly, no one will do other than good in eternity. But Paul is speaking here in the context of time, a brief period during which we may sow for the Lord and then “reap [blessing] if we do not grow weary” (v. 9). I spoke with a local farmer friend this past week who was lamenting the fact that soil moisture was preventing him from getting into his fields. He knows that there is a short window during which he can plant his crop if he hopes to reap a harvest. So it is with the believer. The window of opportunity to do good begins when we are saved and ends when we die or when the Lord returns for the church. Regardless, in the light of eternity, the season for sowing good is infinitesimal. We should be more zealous for opportunities to sow good than was the farmer to sow his corn and beans.
2. The “good” we are to do has a spiritual basis. I have no doubt that Paul intended the good he spoke of to include natural gifts and helps of every ilk. But, significantly, the definite article precedes the Greek word for good: i.e., “the good.” Paul has in mind more than the supply of temporal needs: as Christians we are to do more than run a social service agency. First, our giving or helping should be motivated by love for the Lord. Second, our good should be offered with a genuine desire for the spiritual welfare of others. It should be done for the purpose of glorifying the Lord and pointing others (whether saved or lost) to the Lord.
3. The good we do should be universal in scope. It is relatively easy for us to give time to our families, to offer financial assistance to those we love, to sweat on behalf of friends, and to offer assistance to brethren in our church with whom we fellowship. But Paul is not so selfish or myopic. Our charity, he explains, is to extend “to all people.” The idea is not that we are each individually responsible to help out everyone but that we are not to exclude some for any reason. As Christ died that some might be redeemed out of every kindred, nation, tribe, and tongue, including the down-and-out, the rascals, scoundrels, and thugs, we are to have His mind. We do not exercise this responsibility with absolute promiscuity (by encouraging or helping people to continue in sin), but we are not to shut our hearts to the direction of the Holy Spirit as He would have us expend who we are and what we have for the blessing of others.
4. The good we do should be focused on helping believers. Many Christians might be surprised by this statement—even dispute it. But Paul’s statement is quite clear: we are to do good “especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Yes, the lost require our charitable gifts and deeds. But fellow believers should receive our attention first and foremost: as Thayer explains, the word especially means “chiefly, most of all, above all.” It is the utmost expression of godliness for believers to bless other believers. For just as God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust, but the just have His peculiar love and attention, so believers are to love one another. Your time, my time, our time is short. Are we doing “the good” at every opportunity?
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