I am not sure what comes to mind when you read the title of this edition. I am sure it is not what you might think. However, I have experienced and observed over my 40 years of marriage, my 63 years of life, and my 32 years of pastoral work that there is no greater temptation for all of us than the one I share with you today.
The single greatest temptation that each of us will face the rest of our lives, especially in marriage, parenting, and our Christian walk, is the temptation to grow weary of doing good and just give up. To quit, to walk away, to decide in our hearts that the cost, the pain, the disappointments are just no longer worth the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual effort.
You may be thinking to yourself, “No way Mark, I would never do that, I don’t even think it is my greatest temptation.” I say to you with great love in my heart, you are very naive. If you have not yet ever felt that temptation, you most certainly will, and at times it will be overwhelming. You will find your mind and your emotions concoct wonderful reasons why it is your deserved, justifiable course of action.
Let me elaborate a little further. Galatians 6:9 states, “Do not grow weary of doing good, for in due season you will reap a harvest of blessing if you don’t give up.” If you don’t quit!
Another version puts it this way. “So don’t grow weary of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.”
Here is the truth! EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US GROWS WEARY OF DOING GOOD AND SEEING NOTHING COME OF IT.
My dear friends understand this. Many of you reading this are saying in your heart, “Mark, Mark, I would never quit on my marriage, I would never divorce my spouse.” Ahh, but that misses a very important truth hidden in plain sight. I have known many, many spouses that in their heart, in their attitude, in their spirit, and their behavior in their marriage simply gave up trying anymore. They got weary and discouraged, even though they stayed technically married all the days of their life. The truth is they gave up trying to do good anymore. They simply gave in to weariness, gave in to their disappointment in their spouse that things they thought should change, never seemed to change in the way they felt they should so they quit giving their best selves, their best efforts to the marriage. They simply live now to please themselves.
Friends, let me tell you the honest, unvarnished truth. Marriage is a crucible. It is the most difficult refining fire for our sinful, selfish nature in the world. There have been multiple times in my 40 years of married life that I was tempted to give up inside, to stop trying. I felt so weary, so disheartened and I wanted to throw in the towel so to speak. So many times I felt my spouse did not get me, did not understand me, or disregarded me or my needs. There were so many times I felt frustrated, exasperated, or hurt. I just felt worn out from trying. I didn’t want to do good anymore.
Do you understand what a crucible is? Prov. 17:3 says, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”
Silver and gold are refined as metals and made into something precious and valuable in the fire, the crucible of intense heat. The reality is this is how God refines us, makes us more precious, more useful, more obedient, more mature and brings greater blessing into our lives. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.
Marriage brings out the worst in all of us. It can also develop the best in us if we don’t grow weary and give up! There is no doubt whatsoever about this truth. The heat of the marriage relationship, the flaws of our spouse, their failures, their slights, their inconsiderateness, their failures, their personality quirks, their selfishness all can try the living daylights out of us! Some things will hurt so deeply or frustrate you so greatly that you will be very, very tempted to just say in your heart this isn’t worth it anymore. Nothing is changing, they refuse to change, they don’t care, they are stubborn and obstinate and I am just not going to put myself out their anymore, I am not going to give as much effort. I give up.
Others will be tempted to even quit and walk away, to embrace the deceitful perspective that “Hey, I am so unhappy, I deserve to be happy, and I am not going to spend the rest of my life unhappy. I quit.”
Please, please hear me on this. I have lived a lot of years. Let me tell you after I was married 30 years, still, there were things I had hoped for and prayed for that had not yet been fully realized in my marriage! At times I was tempted to give up after 10, but I didn’t. At times I was tempted to give up after 15, but I didn’t. At times I felt tempted to give up after 20, but I didn’t. Many times during those years, I felt weary of doing good, and not seeing my desired blessing. But, I did not lose my faith in God or in God’s promise. I did not stop doing good! Today, I mean this, I am not lying, after 40 years of marriage, I can honestly say I feel that I am truly reaping so much of the good I sowed in my marriage for decades. Don’t misunderstand, I saw much good and blessings in the first 10, the first 15, the first 20, the first 30, but not the full good I had expected. I can tell you, my wife, bless her precious heart, thought for years there were just things about me that would never, ever change. How I praise God she did not grow weary and give up doing good or quit altogether.
Marriage tests our faith, parenting test our faith, our belief in the living God, that if we do what He asks us to do, if we obey Him, if we keep doing good, if we trust Him, then He will do his part, even when we don’t see any evidence. Let me tell you God has used my marriage and all the conflict, all the difficulties, all the disappointments, all the stresses to teach me to obey Him, whether I felt like it or not. God used it for great good in my life. God used it to teach me faith, perseverance and taught me not to give up or withhold my best from Kathy, even when it did not feel given back. God used my marriage to grow and change me and I was amazed too often discover I was the problem, my selfishness was the problem, my perspective was the problem and needed to change about certain things. When it did, my whole view of a particular issue, of Kathy, changed at that moment of understanding.
As a parent, I know many of you are feeling weary, you’re wondering, “Are these kids ever going to get what I am teaching them? Are they ever going to change? Are they ever going to grow out of this?” With all my heart, I tell you, don’t give up on them. Don’t lose heart, don’t despair, don’t give up inside. Your diligent efforts, your hard work, your commitment, your guidance and instruction, your patient efforts will indeed reap a harvest of blessing. In time, you will see the fruit of your good efforts.
As a Christian, I know many of you are feeling overwhelmed by your shortcomings, your failures, your inconsistencies, your own selfish, miserable flesh. I know first hand the overwhelming discouragement that floods our hearts and emotions when we are trying to grow in Christ, to honor God, to develop godly habits only to fall short, to fail, and to stumble in that same thing again, and again. We want to quit, to just say, “Heck with this, I can never become something different, I will never change, I will never be more like Christ in this area.”
Don’t give in and quit trying, don’t stop doing the good, don’t let go of your spiritual habits and disciplines. They will pay off tremendously. God is working faithfully in your life to bring about greater Christlikeness in you. I have been amazed by what God has changed in me over the last 44 years!
NEVER, EVER, EVER STOP DOING GOOD TO YOUR MATE OR YOUR KIDS. NEVER EVER GIVE UP IN YOUR PURSUIT OF CHRIST AND IN YOUR GODLY DISCIPLINES AND HABITS. NEVER! YOU WILL REAP A HARVEST OF BLESSING AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME. ALWAYS REMEMBER THE APPROPRIATE TIME IS WHAT GOD DECIDES NOT YOU. HE WILL BRING A HARVEST OF BLESSING! WHAT YOU SOW WILL GROW!
I believe you will find great encouragement to keep doing good as you listen to this message series.