Those who genuinely “do good” will be tempted soon enough to grow weary. Give yourself to doing good for others — on God’s terms, to fulfill his calling — and it’s just a matter of time before you will be tempted to tire.Even the apostle Paul, with the utter clarity of his calling, testified to “fighting without and fear within” (2 Corinthians 7:5). And becoming spiritually and emotionally drained was enough of a temptation in his day, that he wrote twice in his letters — “Do not grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13).
When doing good gets tough — and it will — Paul does not simply say, “Don’t quit.” He says, “Do not grow weary.”
God does not rescue us from sin and death to then do nothing. He means for his people to give our lives, what precious little time we have, to “doing good.” “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
That kind of doing doesn’t simply “overflow” or happen effortlessly. It takes intentionality and practice and planning. “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14).
“Doing good” is not just for peaceful, convenient times in our life, but just as much for seasons of suffering and conflict. “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19; see also 1 Peter 2:15). Are we excused from “doing good” when wronged? “See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:15). How do we fight back against the darkness? “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Jesus himself champions, “I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).
The vision may be clear enough in Scripture, but how do we not grow weary in doing good when we are challenged from within and without?
1. Humbly test yourself.
First, when tempted to grow weary, ask with open hands, Am I “doing good,” on God’s terms, for others’ good and not just my own? Am I serving others, or self, with my sense of calling? When resistance comes, internally or externally, we do well to ask about the nature of the opposition:
Is this resistence a gift from God? Are people who manifestly love me trying to helpfully redirect me?
Am I being opposed by those who aren’t defining “good” on God’s terms?
In my “doing good,” am I seeking my own glory instead of God’s (John 7:18)?
Opposition presents us with the opportunity to humble ourselves and test our labors. The temptation to weariness begins as a chance to check our own hearts. As we release our grip on what we’re doing, we can test to what degree it is “good,” and whether it might be better. Are we truly serving the needs of others, or just actualizing our own selfish desires?
2. Expectantly turn to God.
Peeling the onion of our own hearts will only get us so far. We need solid footing outside ourselves to persevere. When we feel the temptation to weariness, we have somewhere to turn — Someone to turn to — for clarity and direction and strength. We are not left to drum it up from within. We know the one who does not faint or grow weary.
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)
And not only do we have our divine, heavenly Father, but also his fully human, flesh-and-blood Son who himself “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). Jesus faced relentless resistance. He knew weariness (John 4:6). He felt opposition — from within in Gethsemane and from without at Golgotha. We look to him “who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3) — not just “not quit,” but “not grow weary.”
After humbly testing ourselves, one concrete, powerful avenue we have for not growing weary is to turn our attention to Christ. But how, specifically? When faced with weariness in our good works, how do we “consider Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1; 12:2) and draw strength from our God who “does not faint or grow weary” (Isaiah 40:28)?
3. Confidently lean on his promises.
God has given us his word that we might learn to lean on God himself. Not just generally on true ideas, concepts, and Christian slogans, but specifically on the actual words of God for us, letting all the ways God speaks to us brace us for doing good.
Hear the risen Christ say to you, through his appointed spokesman, “My beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Or rehearse the very words of Jesus in this parable:
“The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26–29)
We humble ourselves, turn to God, open his word, and trust what he says — not what we see. We seek to readjust our hearts to his truth, not allowing the world’s appearances to steer us. We aim to lean not on our own understanding, whether self-justifying or self-doubting, but on his specific words and promises to us in the Book.
4. Patiently trust his timing.
Walking by faith in God’s promises is no magic spell to force his hand. Trusting his words doesn’t bend his arm to conform to our timing. Rather, it readies us to adjust our sense of timing to his. That is the great ground on which Paul gives his charge in Galatians 6:9: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
How often does our weariness stem from our own sense of “due season” instead of God’s?
God has impeccable timing. His promise to exalt us, if we humble ourselves under his mighty hand, comes with one of the most important phrases in the New Testament: “at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6). If you are genuinely “doing good,” on God’s terms — serving others, not self — and you are discouraged by the result, or the opposition, take this promise to heart: you will reap in due season. God will exalt you at the proper time. Keep sowing faithfully. God sees. He knows. In Christ, your labor will not be in vain.
Where Doing Good Happens
Both prominent charges to not grow weary doing good (Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13) are humble and out-of-the-spotlight contexts. The vast majority of “doing good” happens not in the limelight to be celebrated by thousands, but in the private, unobserved place where God’s kingdom goes forward and eventually turns the world upside down. Doing good is not like the flash and sizzle of fireworks, but the slow, organic growth of crops. Not through remotes and apps that let us feel a sense of control, but through planting and watering and waiting that forces us to trust in God.
When Christ gives us a particular calling to fulfill, he emphatically does not promise that it will come easy. In fact, it is often precisely the opposite. Difficult obstacles emerge to confirm the genuineness of our calling. The breakthrough will come not in retreat, but in enduring under trial with faith in God’s promises. We may even swell in hope as obstacles increase, anticipating that the breakthrough we need may be near at hand.
David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.
A version of this article previously appeared on the Desiring God website under the headline, “Don’t Grow Weary of Doing Good.”