Manaakitanga: Do good to all

"So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get a chance, let us work for the good of all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

This passage is found in Galations 6, and although Paul’s exhortation was to a specific group of people in the 1st Century, the spirit of it still speaks to us today. In fact the word ‘fatigue’ is possibly more relevant to us in the 21st century then it was to his audience, where life was possibly simpler and perhaps less demanding particularly from a time-constraint perspective.

There has been a tendency to interpret these words to mean, ‘don’t stop doing good works, the harvest is coming, keep sowing seed, don’t give up!’ And I would suggest that the harvest that many of us have or have had in mind was that of souls. But this passage isn’t talking about that kind of harvest, rather one of an ‘inner life’, where whatever is sown into our own lives comes to light and is revealed in our personal and communal health and wellbeing. Even though Paul encourages the Galatians to keep doing good to ‘all’ people, he focuses in on the ‘family of believers.’ In this context he is referring to the Church Community.

Why then do we become fatigued in doing good? I’d like to suggest that the possible answer is found in the preceding verses of Galations 6 v 1 – 8. 

"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,  for each one should carry their own load."

Here are found two beautiful phrases that can offer us so much wisdom in relation to the way we live our lives in relationship, and community;

                 Carry each others Burdens …each one should carry your own load…

To be able to distinguish between ‘another’s burdens' and 'my own load’ is key when it comes to remaining in good health, and if not discerned well I would suggest leads to fatigue or burn out. It is also key when it comes to the way the Church, or Community of faith is viewed by those who are watching how she behaves!

Embarking on the journey of authenticity or becoming our true selves leads to a place where we are comfortable in our own skin, wearing clothes that fit us and living a life that suits our uniquely inherent design. As long as David was loaded up with Saul’s armour and was sent stumbling under the weight of it onto the battlefield to slay Goliath, the result (for David) would have been tragic. When he dumped that load and chose his preferred method of combat, his mission was accomplished. David in effect carried the burdens of the oppressed nation of Israel, and carried his own load in the process. He did good! And his community flourished (1 Samuel 17).

Linda Burson-Swift

ManaakitangaClint Gibson