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- Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
- So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
- Galatians 6:9-10 NASB
That exhortation, “Let us not lose heart in doing good” has been deeply impressed on me relative to our intercessory efforts. The King James and NIV translations render “let us not lose heart” as “let us not become weary.” I’ve noticed that at any given time there may be one or two among us who seem weary and close to losing heart. In the natural, the temptation to grow weary and lose heart is understandable and easily anticipated. Intercession is warfare, concentrated effort, and taxing spiritual work, even though we enjoy God’s presence while we are so engaged. Although we feel encouraging confirmations almost weekly of victory in this or that battle, it is still true that the overall war has not yet been won. In addition, we are a part of the “I want it now” society, which hardly helps to make us Olympic champions in the arena of patient, persistent prayer.
But God’s Word says, “In due time we will reap, if we do not grow weary.” That’s a conditional statement, which means that the promise (“we will reap”) is contingent on our not losing heart and not growing weary. “If we faint not” (kjv) and “if we do not give up” (niv) are phrases that express even more of the nuances, but there is no translation in which the big “IF” is avoidable.
We have an opportunity in intercession to “do good” for ourselves and our brethren in a most difficult situation. But it takes time, “faith-FULL-ness,” passionate “I will not let You go except You bless me” wrestlings—in short, consistent, importunate, stubborn praying. The King James says that the answer will come “in due season.” Even the simplest, most unspiritual farmer knows that once he sows his crop, it takes time before his reaping season comes. Why is it that we Christians often fail to have such a sensible, patient approach to reaping what we sow in prayer?
How many prayers offered by Christians have gone unanswered because, just before the answer was to come from Heaven, the asker gave up, discouraged by “things which are seen” (2 Corinthians 4:18), rather than “seeing Him Who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27)! The loading dock of Heaven is probably piled high with answer-shipments which were aborted at the last minute because word came from the Throne: “Never mind; that answer-to-prayer shipment has been canceled for lack of a little more faith and prayer.”
Part of what helps to keep our motivation up is the sure promise—we will reap. We are interceding in the will of God. The largest part of our incentive is in knowing and responding to the heart of Jesus for His battered and scattered sheep; indeed, this should be our primary engine of prayer propulsion, the “great-commandment turbojet” of loving God with all of our hearts and seeking to have His will carried out in our midst and circumstances. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven.”
But the other engine on that “prayercraft,” the “second-commandment” propulsion unit, is the love of our brothers and sisters. Hence Paul says in verse 10 that we are to “do good…especially to those who are of the household of faith.” It is easier to become discouraged if the scope of our vision shrinks to our immediate needs and we become focused on self: “What’s in it for me and my family? We are tired [another word for weary!] of such and such. We need this, that, or the other.” All that may be true; but whose interests are we putting first? The context of this “doing good” and reaping (conditionally, if we don’t grow weary) is doing “good to all people,” and especially to our brethren in “the household of faith”—in our present case, those battered and scattered, disillusioned and deceived sheep who are far more weary and needy than we are. Out of love for them, and for “the Great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20), we choose to refuse to grow weary and lose heart, while the Lord renews our strength (Isaiah 40:31) as we wait upon Him.
When the disciples came to Jesus with the request, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1), He covered the ground of the “Lord’s Prayer” (verses 2-4), but then His teaching focused their attention on the necessity of unrelenting, unremitting, asking-seeking-knocking prayer—importunity (verses 5-10). In this context Jesus gives the example of the man who comes at midnight to beg for bread (verses 5-8). Notice that the bread wasn’t for the importunate man or his family; instead, this request was made for the sake of feeding a visiting friend. We could say that he wanted to “do good” for this person, to feed someone who was famished and exhausted after a long and wearying journey (verse 6).
The importunate man focused on only one thing—the needy guest in his care—and he ignored all of the negative circumstances. He didn’t consider that it was midnight, the darkest hour. It didn’t matter that it seemed “too late” to be on such an errand. He wasn’t deterred by the fact that he, too, was weary and wished he could be warm in his own bed. He didn’t care that his door-pounding and shameless shouting outside of the home of his Friend with Bread would be embarrassing, wake his Friend’s family, disturb the neighbors, make him the target of criticism, or set tongues a-wagging. The importunate man refused to give up and take “No!” for an answer.
In the end, the importunate man “reaped” because he didn’t “faint,” give up, lose heart, or grow weary. Thus he was able to be a blessing—to “do good”—to his famished friend. Let’s remember that, and do an honest check for “weariness.” Keep an eye out for the temptation of “losing heart,” and “count the cost” of persistent, importunate, never-give-up intercession as the condition of reaping.
“Let us not lose heart in doing good,
for in due season we WILL reap
IF we do not grow weary.”
Some scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995
by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Some scripture quotations taken from holy bible, new international version®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by international bible society
used by permission of Zondervan. all rights reserved.
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