Mike McElroy

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. - 2 Thessalonians 3:13

I hope as you read these lines that you are well-rested, and that you have been blessed with another day's worth of energy and strength for what you need to do today. I also know it's quite possible you may not feel that way at all. Maybe yesterday or last week was long and your tasks demanding. Perhaps you didn't sleep well or long enough last night to really rest. Maybe your mind is so occupied about a problem that you cannot focus, and you're frustrated and distracted. You've grown older and just don't have the stamina you once enjoyed. Or a persistent illness or injury has bothered you so long that you've forgotten how it feels to be free of the strain.

Most of know something about weariness. We don't need a thesaurus to know the synonyms--tired, fatigued, worn out, exhausted. You know how it feels when the energy is gone. Some of you know more about physical fatigue, your muscles and physical strength strained to the limit. Others are very familiar with how demanding and draining mental concentration can be. Emotions can be drained to empty as well, when we're miserable from anxiety. And it's discouraging to have a long to-do list, and lack the time or energy to do much at all.

When Paul told the Thessalonians to not grow weary in doing good, he wasn't calling the Thessalonians (or us) to super-human endurance, defying limitations and never taking a break. It's okay to admit you're tired. Instead our text is a call for perseverance, to keep loving God most, loving our neighbors, following Jesus and doing good.

Why might you grow weary of doing good? Why is it such a challenge to be tireless in the pursuit of doing the right thing? It would seem that a redeemed heart would never tire of serving God, blessing others. Ideally, that may be true. But I can think of two factors that might interfere with living out the ideal.

First, we still live in flesh bodies. We do get tired. Those who defy the balance of work and rest usually learn the hard way that they do in fact have limitations. The other factor of living in a flesh body is also hard for some of us to acknowledge: our flesh wants something different from what God's Spirit directs us to do. The desires of the body and mind (Ephesians 2:3) are often contrary to God's will for us. Peter said the passions of the flesh wage war against our souls (1 Peter 2:11).

While we're being honest, let's also mention something else that may make a godly person get tired of doing good. You may see people around you who have no regard for God and don't care about even trying to do good. But they appear to be better off than you. There's a whole psalm about this. It's Psalm 73. Asaph's words ring true when we read, "For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked" (verse 3). And, "All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence" (verse 13). He was weary of doing good. He didn't see the point of trying. Then God graciously reoriented his thinking to consider the outcome of the two ways of living, and the psalm turns out to be a psalm of confident faith and praise. That's what needs to happen in our minds when we're trying to do good, and can't see any reason why it's worth the effort. When we're standing with Asaph and seeing what he saw, we need to remember that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

What's the incentive for persisting in doing good? Don't feel guilty about asking. It's true that God is glorified and people we help and serve are blessed. But you will profit, too. You will know the blessing of enabling grace when you keep doing good, and discover God's strength in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). You also have God's assurance you will reap a harvest if you don't give up (Galatians 6:9). There's also this guarantee: "in the Lord, your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

As always, we have to trust God. I'm glad he is absolutely trustworthy. So keep doing good, and don't get weary of doing it. God bless you.