When Doing Good Doesn’t Seem To Work (or How to Battle Weariness)

For anyone who has genuinely devoted themselves to doing good to others, there is sure to come a temptation to grow weary and want to give up. Whether it’s in a relationship, a serving position, or just being faithful in a job we don’t particularly prefer, circumstances will become difficult and temptation to quit or move on will spring up in our hearts.

So how can followers of Christ be prepared for the times when doing good doesn’t seem to be working…

In Galatians 6:9, Paul encourages the believers in the church of Galatia with this – “let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Now – there is a difference between being tired and being weary. The way we will differentiate these for this conversation is by defining tired as being physically fatigued due to working hard and are not wasting time. Being tired is a reminder of our feeble physical bodies that sends us to a place where we have to rely on the all-powerful God to work even when we can’t (Mark 6:31; John 4:6; Exodus 34:21). But that’s not what we are discussing right now.

Based on Galatians 6:9, we are talking about weariness – a feeling of despair and a desire to quit. So what can we do to battle it?

Remember your purpose

When you and I claim Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God gives us a specific purpose – to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). But He doesn’t just give us a general idea of good deeds that we can choose from. Ephesians 2:10 says that He specifically lays out each step for us – and these steps are the good deeds that He wants you and I to specifically accomplish in Christ. If we become weary when doing these good works, we are (1) forgetting our purpose in Christ or (2) believing that our purpose (the good deeds that have been laid out for us) is not important. God designed every good deed in your life specifically for you to accomplish – which means you have a very specific purpose in God’s grand plan.

So, to the stay-at-home mom changing diapers, washing dishes, and playing blocks with your 2 year old – God created those good works so that you would walk in them, and they are just as important in God’s plan as the pastor preparing his sermon.

To the man serving as a teacher’s assistant in children’s ministries on Sundays for the 7th year in a row – God designed this important good work specifically for you to walk in it for your good and the good of others.

In whatever role God has you serving at this time in your life, it is essential to His plan for you and everyone else around you (Romans 8:28). What a joy it is to know that we all have good purpose in His plan! But Galatians 6:9 does not just say for us to stop becoming weary in our purpose – God also includes a promise of good for us!

Remember God’s Promise

In Galatians 6:9, God provides a good promise when He says in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Weariness in doing good tells us that our flesh is doubting this promise to be true. We are saying that God will either not cause His promises to come true or won’t accomplish them within the timing that we desire.

In those moments of doubt, God does not leave us alone to deal with the struggle. We can remember Jesus – the One who “endured such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3). Even in the midst of the greatest suffering and rejection, Jesus continued to do good (Acts 10:38) and entrusted Himself to His Father (1 Peter 2:23; Hebrews 12:2-3). Because He was willing to endure that hostility to the point of death on a violent cross (Philippians 2:8) – He is now reaping a great harvest with joy (Acts 2:41, 47). Therefore, because God has already proven that He is fulfilling this promise to His Son, we can trust that He will continue fulfilling it for His adopted sons and daughters if we will not give up.

Knowing this empowers us to continue doing good even when it is not received well, when others don’t change, or when we feel it is unimportant.

Renew our understanding of what we will “reap”

But sometimes, even if we remember our purpose and think we are trusting in the promise, it’s still possible to become weary and discouraged. This is quite possibly because we have a wrong understanding of what God promises what we will reap.

It is common for believers to view the harvest as others coming to know Christ, change, and grow. And this is certainly a harvest that the Lord promises to provide in His timing (Matthew 9:37; 16:18-19), but it’s an incomplete understanding of what we are reaping.

God is not just looking for everyone else to come to know Christ and change. He is also looking to “reap” a harvest in you and me (Philippians 1:6; Galatians 5:22-23). In Galatians 6, just a couple verses before Paul laid out God’s promise to reap a harvest in due time, he says “whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” In this context, Paul is referring to a harvest from within their own hearts – a harvest that leads to our eternal life. The goal of doing good is not just to see others change – doing good is also supposed to be changing us. The question I can now ask myself is this: Will I be faithful to continue doing good even if I am the only one changing?

What if God’s plan in you doing good was to change you for your good?

What if God is changing you as you parent a difficult child? What if God is reaping a harvest in you while you disciple and counsel those who seem to be responding poorly? What if God is reaping a harvest in you as you minister to those who are rejecting Christ?

Knowing that God is reaping a harvest in us can help to change our goal and focus in doing good and keep us from growing weary.

If God has laid out specific good deeds for us to do for His perfect plan so that He can reap a good harvest in me and others, then we can carry out the very next verse in Galatians 6.

Galatians 6:10 – “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Joey Wright
Joey and his wife, Cara, joined the Faith staff in July, 2016. They have two daughters, Eliora and Iris, and live on the north side of downtown Lafayette. Joey is the Pastor of our Northend Ministries, is a certified counselor with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, and serves on the Faith Community Development Corporation's board.