Paul warned us "not to be weary in well doing." (Galatians 6:9 & 2nd Thessalonians 3:13).
Easier said than done, right?
If we take that to mean something along the lines of... "Thou shalt not get tired" — well, good luck with that!
On the other hand, if it means... "don't lose courage" or "don't give up; don't quit," then I totally get it. It's still not easy, but at least there is a choice involved. The closest thing to a choice I can think of in the direction of "avoiding tiredness" would be to always quit while we are ahead, or make sure we don't hyperextend & overcommit ourselves. But even that only gets a person so far.
It's good advice, of course: "TO AVOID GETING TIRED, DON'T TRY TO DO TOO MUCH." But there is much more to it than that. It's just not that simple. The weariness that comes with doing right is (at least in part) a result of the flesh (the natural man; our sinful nature) growing restless. Galatians 5:16-17, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would."
Allow me to repeat myself without clarifications, caveats, or proofs: The weariness that comes from doing right is a result of the flesh growing restless. In other words, it's not really a lack of positive energy as much as it is pent-up negative energy pushing against us. That is, it's our natural inclinations pushing us in the wrong direction. We tire of resisting it. In a very real sense, the more we win the harder it is to keep winning. We may weld the lid shut on one particular vice, but that just transfers the pressure to another place. Then the weakness of our moral character is soon revealed in THAT area instead of the original area.
I was singing in the shower this morning:
"Think of your fellow man Lend him a helping hand Put a little love in your heart
You see it's getting late Oh, please don't hesitate Put a little love in your heart
And the world will be a better place And the world will be a better place For you and me You just wait and see..."
Well that makes for a great song and nice feelings. Trouble is, it doesn't work. The quintessential character who lived out a strategy like that was Jesus Christ, and they killed Him for it.
Oh sure, as a result of His efforts, in a way the world became a better place for some. But even for them (us), it really wasn't the world that became a better place. They (we) just got their (our) citizenship transferred from this world to a better one. The next one. As a whole, this world (the human race) hated Jesus, and it hates His followers. The more closely we follow Jesus and resemble Jesus, the more the world despises us.
More often than not, our best efforts and most persistent fidelity just makes us more visible targets. You know the common warning, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." Where did that come from? Why is that a trite saying? Because the phenomenon it is so very common, that's why!
From the simplest of circumstances to the most complex, being the nice guy; the good girl; being the "better person" will often get you little more than left behind. Just last night I was reminded of this as I stood patiently waiting for some people. They knew I was waiting for them. They could see me waiting for them. Still, 5 minutes eventually turned into 25 minutes. If I had rudely turned of the lights and threatened them with the loss of their privileges, I could have gotten out in 10 minutes or less. But the right thing to do seemed to be to show patience instead. And so (as another saying goes), "No good deed ever goes unpunished."
There is also the high price of success. It goes like this. Fail and you'll get an easier task next time, or maybe even no task at all. Succeed and get the same task again, or likely an even harder one next time.
What? Yes. We might imagine deep down inside somewhere that if we "pay the piper" and do our due diligence, then at some point we will find easy street; we will be rewarded with a pat job, life's comforts, faithful friends, a host of admirers, constant safety, and uninterrupted peace. THAT is a fantasy.
You may think, "Oh Dave, you're just being dark and negative and pessimistic." No, I'm just being real. I'm being realistic.
Have you never read Ecclesiastes? This is life "under the sun" — vain; empty; hollow; senseless; futile. No wonder we get weary in well doing and want to throw in the towel. "Why try so hard when in the end we all die and virtually everyone is eventually forgotten?" That was Solomon's experienced observation.
Ecclesiastes 7:16-17, "Don't be righteous over much; neither make yourself over wise: why should you destroy yourself? Don't be over much wicked, neither be foolish: why should you die before your time?" So, take the pragmatic approach? Ride the fence? Live with one foot in heaven and the other in hell? Get what you can from both sides?
Is that the best we can hope for?
Every truth in the Bible has a proper context. Before Paul warned us in verse 9 "not to grow weary in well doing," he also wrote, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Galatians 6:7-8).
In other words, when the goin' get's tough, keep goin' because your reward will be worth it. And, your reward will be realized in the next life, not in this one. In fact, he even added, "...in due season we will reap, if we faint not."
David famously wrote, "...weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5). In this life, we weep through the night. It will be in our life beyond the grave where we will have fullness of joy as we enjoy the pleasures of His presence forevermore.
In July of last year I wrote a piece entitled, "Glorious Plodding." It doesn't feel glorious. But it is. And, if Jesus tarries and I'm still alive and writing at this time next year, I'll likely write another blog post along these same lines? Why? Because it's a constant struggle. We get tired of fighting. We tire of the failures; the fuss; the things that need to be fixed. It's life. But it is imperative to do what Lewis from the movie Meet the Robinsons said to do, "Keep moving forward." (Actually, supposedly that's only part of a quote from Walt Disney: “Around here... we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things…")
It's the right way to live.
Don't let past pains cause you to become discouraged and exasperated. Paul said, "This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
Don't let future pressures and problems overwhelm and intimidate you. Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you. Take no thought for tomorrow: for tomorrow will take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:33-34).
Remember? Sure. Anticipate and plan? Yes. But just do the next right thing today, and trust God to take care of all the results and consequences. Graciously accept either deliverance or devastation as it comes. But no matter what comes, keep doing the right thing for the right reason at the right time every time. Do it in humility. Do it in faith. Do it out of a sense of gratitude. Do it because you love your Master. Do it because it's the best option. But, do it. Just don't stop.
Don't. Just. Stop.
Solomon didn't only write Ecclesiastes. He also wrote Proverbs, including this wise saying, "A just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked will fall [fatally] into mischief" (Proverbs 24:16). If we keep fighting, then the fight isn't over. While you're still fighting, it can never be said truly that you lost the fight. You only lose when you stop fighting.
"Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize" (1st Corinthians 9:24-25 NLT).
There it is. Run to win. No matter how tired you get, don't quit. Don't let your weariness cause you to faint. Rest if you must. In fact, rest even if you feel that you don't need to rest. But resting is not retiring. Rest to be refreshed. Rest to reenergize. Then get back onto the battlefield.
It will be worth it all in the end. When we see Christ.