Healthy Leaders


Doing Good Things Is Not the Same as Doing Good

Katie HughesKatie Hughes

Yesterday when my husband got home around 5:00 pm, we were chatting for a few minutes while all of the kids played/acted like animals outside. He could see the fatigue and irritation and discontent all over my face and asked me about it.

Oftentimes, when I know I’m just having a sinful attitude, I’ll keep it to myself, knowing that I really just need to get right with God.

Yesterday though, I held nothing back, and I leaned across the counter toward him and told him all the yucky things in my heart. I don’t like being a mom today. I don’t want to clean up after these people anymore. I’m sick to death of cooking food and having them not like it. We can’t even make it home from school without a fight breaking out. They don’t listen to me. I feel like a broken record.

I work hard and it’s a vicious cycle. I do all the same things over and over again. I don’t want to keep at it. I feel like giving up.

I know it’s wrong. I know I need God’s help. But that’s honestly where I am. I feel like I’m fighting the battle for joy and have just been losing for days on end.

He too had come in from a rough day and shared some of it with me. When we were done, he closed his eyes and simply said. “Jesus. Help. We really need your help right now. Please help us.”

That was it, but that was what we needed. To stop turning inward. To turn our eyes back upward. I lift my eyes up to the hills and I say, where does my help come from? I stop looking down at the ground or down at the circumstances staring me right in the face. I look to the One who made heaven and earth to be my help.

I won’t say I was suddenly jubilant and bouncing from one monotonous task to the next with overwhelming joy in my heart. But I did move forward in the day remembering where to direct my gaze, remembering that grace doesn’t allow me to stay in that place, gathering strength to continue doing the good to which I’ve been called.

It’s got me thinking of that verse in Galatians. “Let us not grow weary of doing good. For in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal. 6:9).

I think our tendency, especially in this millennial generation – and I suppose I must include myself here … strictly speaking, I am one – is to think of “doing good” as “doing good works.”

We love social justice in this generation. We want to be the hands and feet of the Gospel. We want to save orphans, and sell our possessions to give to the poor, and get our hands messy for Jesus.

And I think all of that is good. I think it’s important that we not just be Christians in name only. For goodness sake, I flew half way around the world to adopt two of my children a few years ago. I’m certainly not knocking these important things. I’m all for them.

But, I don’t think that’s what Paul is talking about here in this letter to the Galatians. When Paul says “good,” the Greek meaning isn’t really about an action, but more about a characteristic or a virtue. It means “excellent,” or “beautiful,” or “commendable,” or “precious.”

The thing is, we could do lots of technically “good” things without pointing to the excellence of Christ. I think what Paul is getting at here is doing excellently that which Christ has called you to do. Don’t lose heart when you’re striving to do all things beautifully for Christ’s sake.

Doing big, bold things for Christ, in many ways, can be something we don’t grow weary of. After all, it’s exciting to do something adventurous or daring for Jesus. To do something counter-cultural. To act and go and DO.

But simply go to my job every day and do it well? Be kind to those around me, even when they’re not very kind in return? Be patient with my children when they’re fighting and disobeying. Love my spouse who is sometimes short-tempered or distant or undeserving? Perform the same old tasks day in and day out, none of which seem in any way eternally meaningful (I’m looking at you, never-ending laundry pile)?

It’s the way we do everything that Paul is getting at. Don’t grow weary of doing those things with pure, excellent, commendable, goodness. And I love that Paul tells us why  . . .

In due season, we will reap.

The distinguishing characteristic of the Christian is that he knows that this life is but a vapor, and the greater joys that are coming are what his gaze is focused on. This belief, this great hope, it trickles down into everything! The big, sweeping acts, and the little, boring, faithful ones. The overseas adoptions, and the sink full of dishes.

And it’s not because those things are, in and of themselves, all that exhilarating. I don’t know that I’ll ever find folding laundry exhilarating. But I can find it good. I can see that because I’m redeemed, my work is redeemed as well. I don’t only serve God well when I do big things for Him. I serve Him well when I’m content with the small tasks, too.

After all, when I went and adopted those kids, wasn’t I committing to clothing them and feeding them and meeting their needs for years to come? Isn’t it all wrapped up in the same big thing? The good act of social justice continues on into the doing good toward my children in all the little mundane details of life. The question isn’t what I’m doing, but why I’m doing it, and how.

Not for earthly comfort or gain, not for recognition or fame, but because in due season, I will reap. And that, my friends, is truly good.

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