And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9
Not Grow Weary – Sometimes the best pictures of the meanings of words some from the way words are constructed. We look at this English expression, “not grow weary”, and we have mental pictures of people who are tired, worn out and over-worked. We see the strained faces, the sweat on the forehead and the aching arms and legs. But what we don’t see is the deeper image behind the Greek construction. And once we see how this word is formed, another kind of picture emerges.
The Greek is me ekluomenoi. Me is the word “not”. Ekluomenoi comes from the verb ekluo and that is made up of two other words, ek (meaning “out”) and luo (“to loose or set free”). In this verse, the verb is passive, so it means that the action is turned on the subject. Literally, the word means, “to be loosed out of myself”. Weary. That point where I am removed from myself, where my physical exhaustion sets me aside from what I wish to do. Now we must pay close attention. Paul says that we must be courageous in doing good in the face of the enemy. But there is a risk. That risk is that we become exhausted, set apart from our own desires, because of the lack of strength to go on. There is danger in this battle but it is not the danger of the enemy. It is the danger of drawing on my own reserves. If my doing good comes only from my own strength, I will soon find that I am empty. Human stockpiles are never sufficient to win this war.
Doing good is simply not good enough. There are plenty of people who do good from their own reserves. But in the end, the statute of limitations on goodness always takes over. Human altruism is inherently insufficient. Compassion runs out. Mercy fails. Grace ends. At some point, I am loosed out of myself and I simply can’t go on. September 11 fades into the past. Katrina victims are forgotten. Tsunami stories no longer make the news. Human good grinds to a halt.
Paul raises this red flag of warning because he knows that human sufficiency is insufficient. Unless the God of all grace is the source of doing good, the days of good doing will be too short to finish the battle. If you are not to grow weary, you must be continually supplied by the only source of all goodness. Then, and only then, can you exhaust today’s reserves and still fight tomorrow.