"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." (Galatians 6:9)

The problems in congregations in the Roman province of Galatia were extremely difficult. Two features in Paul's letter to those congregations reveal how discouraging the problems were. A group of Jewish Christians followed behind Paul when he established congregations in non-Jewish areas. Basically, these Christians (Judaizing teachers) made two points. # 1: Paul was not a genuine apostle; neither this man nor his message were to be trusted. # 2: Since you were converted through a "faulty" message about Christ, your conversion is invalid. Thus, you still need to be saved.

What a discouragement to Paul and to the people he called to Christ! With great personal sacrifices, Paul made his mission trips [2 Corinthians 11:21-33]. With enormous personal patience and kindness, he taught people of idolatrous backgrounds [1 Thessalonians 2:5-12]. Paul cared about the people he taught! Those responding to Christ by redirecting their lives were of great encouragement! For Christians to cause these people to doubt their salvation was an enormous personal discouragement.

When Paul heard what happened in the Galatian congregations, it defied belief! He was so upset that he began his letter in a unique manner. In virtually all his letters to congregations, Paul began by giving thanks for them. He did that even with the deeply troubled Corinthian congregation [1 Corinthians 1:4-9]. Yet, he did not begin Galatians with a statement of thanksgiving! He started with a declaration of disbelief. "I cannot believe you left Christ for a message falsely presenting itself as good news!" [Galatians 1:6-9.] He then (1) defended his spiritual credentials and (2) verified his message.

As discouraging as the situation was to Paul, have you considered how discouraging it was to the few who were not deceived by the Judaizing teachers' false message? Would that not be reason to give up? Would that not make you feel pointless in your conversion and commitment? Would your mind not constantly declare: "Just quit! Just give up!"

Near the end of the letter he wrote the above statement. "Do not stop doing good! Do not faint! Do not let weariness win! The harvest is certain! Doing good glorifies God!"

Why in the face of discouragement continue to do good? (1) This is the only way those in Christ can say "thank you" to God. (2) Those who know God through Christ need encouragement. (3) Those who do not know God need to see Him in your life.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 8 February 2004

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