Category: Doing good

Not growing weary

Waiting to Reap (pictured above), by Stephen Rountree, is an original painting in acrylic on salvaged, early 1900s barn wood, lightly coated in white pickling stain. The encouraging words of Galatians 6:9 are hand-transferred onto the wood in distressed lettering. Waiting to Reap is available in the shop today.

Are you tired yet? You might have immediately thought I was referring to the pandemic and the social distancing, and all that has changed in such a short time. I know we’re tired of those things. But that’s not what’s on my mind today.

I’m talking about getting tired of doing good. As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, many people have shown the best of humanity in trying times (one thing I’m really tired of is the use of the word “unprecedented,” so I’ve banned it from this blog). But we are finite creatures with limited bandwidth, energy, and stamina. At some point, we reach the end of our resources and ability to meet the needs of our families, friends, and neighbors. We just get tired.

Maybe you’re at that place today. Maybe you’ve been at that place for a while. Maybe you’re still going like gangbusters. Whatever your status, the New Testament book of Galatians has some words of wisdom and encouragement for us all regarding doing good.

Encouragement from God

In Galatians chapter 6, the apostle Paul gives the church instructions on how they are to treat one another. He talks about the need to “bear one another’s burdens” and says that by doing that, we will fulfill the law of Christ. What is the law of Christ?

In Matthew 22, Jesus answers a similar question from a religious leader of the day: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40, ESV)

Later, in the book of John, Jesus tells His disciple that His commandment is to love one another. In fact, He says that their love for one another would be one of the ways people would identify them as His followers.

If you had to put it on a bumper sticker, you might boil it down to say, “Love God, love people.”

Doing good the right way

Fast forward to Galatians where Paul encourages followers of Christ to keep the main thing the main thing—to love God and love the people around them. Consider these words from chapter 6:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:7-10, ESV)

Here Paul is like the person along the marathon route who hands out water to the exhausted runners. He’s telling us, “Keep it up! Stay on the right course. Invest in your spiritual life with God and love Him and the people around you. Pour yourselves into this race! It’s worth it; there’s a payoff at the end if you just don’t give up!”

Don’t give up

When we’re tired of doing good, let’s allow God’s words from Galatians to spur us on another mile. We don’t want to waste time and energy on things that won’t matter tomorrow, let alone for eternity. And we don’t want to do the work in our power. God never intended for us to accomplish His work in our strength. He wants to work through us by His Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength to do whatever He calls us to do. Let’s sow good things by spending our time with God in prayer and reading His word and doing good to all people. Even when we feel like neither one is getting us anywhere, God says they are.

If we take the time to invest ourselves in the spiritual and physical parts of our lives by “doing good” in both, we will reap a harvest.

Be encouraged and inspired, and until then, keep sowing!

Standing closer apart

Salvaged wood, wire and hand-stamped sculpture with Philippians 1:3

Crazy quotes for crazy times

Other than Yogi Berra (“When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” and “It ain’t over till it’s over”, among others), few people are as famous for uttering as many malapropisms as Hollywood movie producer, Samuel Goldwyn, who was the “G” in MGM. There’s debate over some of the quotes attributed to him, but he’s reported to have said, “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” and “I had a monumental idea this morning, but I didn’t like it.”

But the Goldwyn quote that I’m reminded of these days is his direction to two actors on the set of one of his films: “Tell them to stand closer apart.” Say what?

It’s a sign of these crazy times that a nonsensical quote like that pretty much sums up our mission at the moment. We must stand apart, yet we must be closer than ever.

By now the term “social distancing” is commonplace. Someone has even reserved the dotcom site for socialdistancing, though there’s nothing on it as of this writing. But we’re all impacted and countless people are doing their best to flatten the infection rate curve and bring this pandemic to as rapid an end as possible. So we’re standing apart.

But we’re also trying to stand closer. In times of trouble, people tend to move closer, in spirit at least, to each other and to faith. In the midst of bad news and more bad news, people become desperate for hope. One small Bible sales business in California saw a sales jump of 143 percent compared to this time last year. People want to be close to things that bring hope.

A simple way to encourage

One way we can “stand closer apart” is to remember each other. Many folks are doing this and doing it well. Remember those in your sphere who need a call, a card, a prayer lifted on their behalf. We can do this for each other. We can make a real difference by picking up the phone or sending that email or text just to say, “Hey, I remember you, and I’m thankful to God for you. You’re a blessing to me. How are you?

We want to help give you something to share with others. So we’ve created a free downloadable version of the image in this post that you can attach to any email or text to share some art with them and let them know that you’re remembering them and you’re thankful for them. Just click the black button below to download it. Then right-click or option-click on the image and select “save image as” to save the image to your computer. Or just copy and paste into your email. It’s yours to share.

After you read this, don’t wait. Reach out to someone who needs to be reached and stand a little closer apart.

Inner beauty

image of a Geode exterior
image of interior of a geode rock
Use the slider to see inside the geode.

The rock you see above is a geode. Geodes are hollow formations, often roughly spherical, that become filled with mineral deposits through water flow and other natural processes. This geode was given to me by a good friend of mine from California. He and his family used to camp out west where they collected these rocks, which don’t look like much on the outside. But once he was back home, he would cut them open to reveal the amazing crystals or other mineral deposits inside.

Sometimes, we can be a little like a backward geode. In our beauty- and youth-obsessed culture, outward appearances are paramount. Instagram feeds are full of photos carefully staged to show off perfect appearances, while beauty video bloggers, or vloggers, crank out countless hours of YouTube tutorials on how to look your best—i.e. youngest and most beautiful. And did you know Americans spent $16.5 billion on 17.7 million elective cosmetic surgeries in 2018 alone? So says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons®. Today, the U.S. beauty industry is valued at $80 billion and expected to reach $90 billion by 2020. But all that money and effort is spent only on the outside.

In the twenty-third chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we find Jesus calling out the hypocrisy of the backward geode religious leaders of His day, saying, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (verses 27-28, ESV).

God is more concerned about our inward beauty than what’s on the outside. Maybe He even created geodes to give us a simple picture of what we should be. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look our best, but if the outside always demands more time and effort than the inside, it might be time to re-evaluate.

Want to try seeing yourself and those around you like God does? Look for inner beauty. What is special, amazing, fun, inspiring, sweet, or wonderful about someone that has nothing whatsoever to do with the outside? And when you see it in yourself, let it express itself through your creative work and everything you do. “For The Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but The Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b, ESV)

Who are the geodes in your life? They may also be beautiful on the outside, and that’s great, but what’s special about them on the inside? Drop us a line in the form below and share your thoughts with us.