Tag Archives: Galatians 6:9

Doing Good Badly

I heard the following quote from a podcast earlier this week:

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” – G.K. Chesterton

Upon hearing it, I did a quick Google© search to check its veracity.  It is, in fact, genuine.  Chesterton (a writer, poet and lay theologian from England) did write these words at the end of the fourteenth chapter of his 1910 book What’s Wrong with the World.  The context for the quote was the education of children and the point of his comments were to do what is necessary, even if it is done poorly.

Our society, at first blush, seems to contradict Chesterton’s words by telling us that if it is worth doing, it is worthy doing well.  Chesterton’s point, and my reasoning for quoting him, does not disagree with this prevailing wisdom.  When we endeavor to accomplish a task – in the home, in the workplace or in the church – we ought to do our best.  We must not enter into the essential activities of life half-heartedly.  That being said, we rarely are able to accomplish our best, whether it be due to an inaccessibility of resources, an insufficiency of energy or a lack of passion.

When our best work and our real work are incongruent, we tend to get discouraged, and when we get discouraged, we quit.  We flip the above-stated cultural mandate on its head and think to ourselves, “if I cannot do this well, I should not do it at all.”  That is where Chesterton comes in, reminding us that it is perfectly acceptable to do something, even if it is done badly.  We are always to do things to the best of our abilities, understanding that there are days when our best is bad.  On those days, instead of giving up the fight, we can resolve to do better the next time.

My life is full of moments when I am doing what is worth doing, but doing it badly.  There are times when I am hungry and I diet badly.  There are times when I am angry and communicate badly.  There are times when I am lonely and manage my time badly.  There are times when I am tired and pray with the family badly.  There are times when I preach badly, teach badly, father badly, husband badly, perform sonly duties badly and witness badly.  But I do not quit, and instead commit to doing better the next time.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  2 Corinthians 4:7

As Paul reminded the early church in Corinth, we are simple, easily broken, earthen vessels.  Anything we do, any excellence we accomplish, any power we display is not from us; it is from God.  We cannot (and are not expected to) do everything well every time.  We will, occasionally, do things badly.  But we will do them because they are worth doing.  I pray we all will always be doing good, even when we can only do it badly.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

Don’t Say “Uncle”

My family and I planned on going apple picking this past Saturday and checked out our options online.   We were surprised to read a disclaimer on one of the orchard’s websites:  due to the especially cold spring and the especially dry summer, the quality of the fruit being harvested this year was less than ideal.  The apples we were going to pay to pick in October were negatively affected by the climate and conditions of the orchard as far back as March.  Through no fault of its own, these apples were stunted in their growth; the trees were not as fruitful as they could be.apples

Last Sunday I watched our regional NFL team beat a conference rival.  During a series of downs in the 2nd quarter, the quarterback was sacked on 1st down for a 9 yard loss and then handed off the ball for two short runs and, ultimately, a punt.  The TV commentators stated the obvious – the team was unlikely to recover from the initial setback and therefore needed to cut their losses so that they could challenge their opponent later in the game.  Though they were responsible for their poor performance on the field, it is safe to assume that none of the players were satisfied with their production.

Have you ever felt like one of those apples, developing in less than ideal conditions with less than desirable results?  Have you ever felt like a football team that is moving in the wrong direction unable to accomplish your directive?  Where do you turn when your hopes and your harvest don’t match?  Allow me to give you some advice:  don’t give up.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

God’s word states that if we continue to do what is right and good we will be rewarded.  The orchard would still get a good, perhaps even excessive, price for their apples despite their less than ideal shape and size.  The New England Patriots would win the game, successfully executing more plays than the Buffalo Bills.  And we, affected by harsh conditions and harmful setbacks, will also be rewarded if we refuse to quit.  Our faith will mature if we do not give up; our efforts will be fruitful if we are determined not to fold.

The reason we can have confidence and not give up is because God does not give up on us.  God did not give up on David or Peter, despite their dreadful setbacks in faith and righteousness.  God did not give up on Esther or Ruth, despite their development under difficult conditions.  God did not give up on Abraham (who lied), Moses (who killed a man), Hosea (who was married to an adulteress), Matthew (who was a tax collector), Timothy (who was likely raised in a single-parent home) or Philemon (who was a fugitive).  And God will not give up on you.   You must not give up on Him.