In a world that is constantly changing and facing unpredictable circumstances, how can we remain steadfast in doing good and participating even in the good that is happening at Tyndale?
Kyle Best shares a message of encouragement from Galatians 6.
If I'm gonna be honest, it's a quite a surreal moment for me to be up here today. Specifically, I've never stood behind this podium and have said anything into this microphone, so it's kind of a fun moment for me. There's been plenty of surreal moments for me so far, and being back at Tyndale, as was mentioned in my introduction. I graduated last year here at Tyndale. I wasn't here physically in this space, but I was at home, on my computer, finishing up my exams. I won't lie, it was a tough time, it was a tough experience. After finally closing my laptop for my final exam, sitting there, alone, in my bedroom, saying, I did it, I finished. And I never expected to be back in this place, as well, if I'm also going to be honest with you. At the time of the completion of my undergrad, I was already accepted into a Master's program at another institution. And that was my plan. My assumption for my life was that I was going to finish my undergrad, go on, do my Masters, and then see what happens after that. Maybe more education, maybe going into ministry, I just wasn't sure what was really next for me. And that decision for me to not attend that school, as you might be able to tell if me being here, was honestly one that was a decision that was hard to make. And it was also a decision that I made a week before classes began for my Master's program. I had the wonderful opportunity of working at Fair Havens Ministries this past summer, a camp that's located in Beaverton, Ontario. During the last week of my work at Fair Havens, I spent most of the summer working with children and also working with teenagers and various roles, and they asked me to be the guest speaker for the week at Fair Havens for the chapel that was meant for the adults at the camp. During that week, I was doing a sermon series talking about perfection, I was talking about how God has a plan to make us perfect, to make us the way that we were meant to be from the very beginning. During my second last sermon of that week, I was preaching and I was talking about how God will take the things out of our life that are not meant for us and that he is faithful to do so. Now, during the midst of me preaching that sermon, there was a deep conviction within my heart. And it was tough in that moment for me to kind of gather my thoughts again, and to continue on and finish up my message. But right after I was finished, I knew that it was not meant for me to continue on, at least at that time, in my education. And it was a weird moment for me then to submit some papers into a school saying, Hey, I'm going to withdraw. And, doing it a week before was a little bit intense. And it was also difficult to then call my mom over the phone and tell her Hey, Mom, by the way, I'm not going to school anymore, and I don't know what I'm doing with my life.
Thankfully, my mother was very gracious and loving and, and welcomed me home and, but there was a period of time when I wasn't sure what was next. I wasn't sure what God had in store for me, I just knew that going to school again was just not right for me. After being at home for a little bit of time, I just spent some time personally studying. Honestly, I opened up a few textbooks that I didn't open up during my undergrad and thought, hey, this is a good time to read and to learn something new. And it was during that time that I saw on, I think was posted online somewhere, maybe on the Facebook group for Tyndale students, but there was job postings that were put out. I thought, oh, what's going on with Tyndale? What are they doing? And I saw a position for an admissions counsellor, and I thought about it, and I was like, I really honestly don't know what admissions counsellors do. That was my first thing. I knew I had one. And she did a great job and helped me out, but I was also like, what is what does an admissions counsellor do? Without even really knowing, and fully reading the job description, I thought, hey, why not just throw in my resume,nd see what happens. It was within that same week, I received a phone call saying hey, we'd like to interview you. And I did my interview and then followed up, with that, with a second interview in the following week, and then received another email saying, "Hey, we'd love to have you come join us at Tyndale".
This whole line of events that happened in my life, I was not expecting at all. I was not expecting to be back here. And when I sent the email back in response, saying I'd love to accept this position, again it was a little bit surreal. After graduating online, spending a year and a half online, finishing my degree that way. I didn't think, come a year later, that I'd be working at Tyndale full time now. And the reason why I chose to come back to Tyndale, because you know you can get a job offer anywhere, and you can choose to accept or deny it. The reason why I accepted it was not because this place was familiar to me, that it was easy to go back. What I realized in that opportunity of having this job in front of me was, I started to think about my experience at Tyndale, as a student, and what I went through, the people who were there for me, and the classes that I attended, and the professors that I met. And I realized that there was something great going on here. Something great has been going on at Tyndale, since its very beginning. But that thing that drew me back in was that I wanted to be part of it in a new way, and a new responsibility.
I chose this passage here in Galatians, six that was read at the very start, because I think it serves as an encouragement to us. In a world that is constantly changing, and we're always facing unpredictable circumstances, how is it that we can remain steadfast in doing good and participating even in the good that's happening here at Tyndale? When we consider the events of this past year, maybe personally, individually or as a school community as a whole, we can say that amazing things have happened. We've, a lot of us have realized the blessing of simply just being in person for classes, being able to perhaps live on residence, and be in a space, to be back in our offices, to see each other and to work together. Now, many people still chose to do online learning, and that is a fine decision. But I think we can all recognize that it was a great step forward that we took this year, after having to go through so much change in the last year and a half. Each year, God gathers a unique set of people here at Tyndale. This was something that I didn't even recognize, perhaps afterwards until I was finished, that every single year that I was at Tyndale, this community was different. It was new. There are people who show up here every fall semester, people who show up every winter semester, people who even join us in the spring in the summer, and staff roles change. But there's something consistently good happening here. And by the end of each year, with our new communities and new changes, we're also faced with a little bit of tiredness that happens. I'm sure many students who perhaps are here, or watching online, are feeling that tiredness right now as you're going through the end of exams. And you're pushing through and you're getting there. And so I thought, why not? Why not have us spend some time, and reflecting upon Paul's words in Galatians, in which he offers an encouragement to believers who are tired, who were facing difficult circumstances.
In the book of Galatians itself, Paul is addressing a very serious issue in which people are instructing the Gentile believers in Galatia, that they need to follow the ceremonial Mosaic law in order to be true believers. And Paul is quite upset by this news, as he has already told the gospel to the Galatians. And they have come to believe in it. And his words in Galatians can be a little bit tough or harsh at times, as he is telling them I've already told you this, I've given you the gospel. Why are you so quick to flee from it and walk away. But, Paul, although he rebukes them in the beginning, he also then kind of retells them the gospel in some forms, and he instructs them of the way in which they should live their lives. Paul tells them you have no need to observe this ceremonial law, it does not hold the power to save you. But it was Jesus who came to save. It is His work, His death, His resurrection that saves us. And at the beginning of this passage that I chose, that this is the very end of Galatians, after Paul has given his instructions, after rebuking the Galatians after telling them the truth of the gospel, he provides them with this final encouragement to their community. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way, you fulfill the law of Christ. Carry each other's burdens. The first thing Paul tells them in this kind of final exhortation, Carry each other's burdens. Now, this might sound like, Yeah, this is what we should do. This, this is who we are. We're people who should be there for each other, to carry each other's burdens, but he's speaking to a community that was divided. That was turning against each other in certain forms, because of this teaching that had come into their community. And he instructs them again, carry each other's burdens, be there for one another, and the times where it's tough and the times where it's difficult, and the times where things feel too heavy for us as individuals, be there to carry for one another.
Now, obviously, in our community here at Tyndale, I can speak of it as one that is unified, a body of believers together on one mission to serve the kingdom of God. But we're also not immune to the dangers of fractions. And the difficulties that can come to our community, and the ways in which we may separate in some forms, as believers. But we are always told to be there for one another, to carry each other's burdens. And Paul tells us, in this way you fulfill the law of Christ, you fulfill the way in which Christ desires us to live, by carrying each other's burdens, and this community that was beginning to focus so much on ceremonial law, and rituals, and doing the right thing that way, they may have lost sense of what it means to truly fulfill what Christ has called us to do. And he says, carry each other's burdens. That's an encouragement for us today, even a commandment for us, to be there for each other to carry each other's burdens. And there comes times when we're not in the same place. We're not all here in this Tyndale, building all at once. We have different offices in different places, different spaces, some of us are at home. But that does not stop us from carrying each other's burdens. We're always called to be there for each other, and this way, we fulfill Christ's desire for us. Now, in the following three verses, Paul, again, uses some strong language, telling them to not think of themselves as something when they're not, and to not deceive themselves. He says that each person should test their own actions. Basically, be self reflective, be aware of what you're doing, are you being a person who truly carries the burdens of others. He also says, Don't compare yourselves in this process. Even if you are a person who does a great job of carrying the burdens of somebody else, don't use that as some form of leverage to put yourself above other people. Also, don't think of anyone as less than you, somebody who is not worthy to have their burdens carried. Every person within the community is worthy of having their burdens carried by somebody else. And as a Tyndale community, this is something that we can always remember too, that no matter our position, our place, even our economic or social status, each of us is worthy of having our burdens carried by somebody else. And it is our calling individually, and as a whole community, to be there for those people who face those burdens.
Paul, from this place of instructing the believers, shifts into a different discussion. He carries this train of thought, but tells them "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows". This term of mocking kind of refers to turning your nose up at somebody, viewing yourself as greater than them. And he says, God cannot be mocked, and a man reaps what he sows. And this is the kind of essential phrase I believe in this passage. 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. This phrase, given by Paul, is one that is very reflective of the wisdom tradition of the Old Testament. We can find very similar sayings within the book of Proverbs and in Job. And Paul uses this image of sowing and reaping to explain kind of the cause and effects of the acts of the believers. If you're a person who works, to only please yourself and to do things to make yourself rise up within the community, if you only do things that help you, well, you're going to actually reap destruction. And this, even this word for destruction kind of carries this idea of of decay. Sometimes it's a slow process, but it happens over time. And eventually destruction will take hold.
And in the same way, though, in the reverse, he tells them, whoever sows to please the spirit, from the Spirit, will reap eternal life. As was slightly mentioned, in my introduction, I became a believer at, right before the beginning of high school. I grew up, technically, in the church, but never really had much care for the church. I didn't really have much care for the beliefs of Christianity. And that's partially also just because I did not take the time to truly understand what Christians believed and why I should believe it too. I remember when I was young, having the term "Eternal Life" explained to me simply as living forever. That was not a term that really actually kind of engaged me in Christianity. I thought to myself, Oh, I live forever. I'm like, is there no end like, there's no stop to all of this, I just live this life forever. That was my concept of eternal life. And I thought, I don't think I actually really want that. What's the benefit of just living forever?
A major turning point for me, in my faith, however, was having eternal life explained not just in the sense of a quantity of time, but in a quality of life. Eternal life, as it stands, yes, does refer to this length of time where we live forever, and oftentimes, eternal life is used in the context of explaining what happens after we physically die. But the truth of the matter is, is that even within Scripture, we are told of a different idea of eternal life. And this is what John 17:3 has to say. Now, this is eternal life. Clear, we're starting with the definition. Now this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. That is a very different definition than I was told, growing up. This is eternal life. It's interesting, even that's within this definition, we're not even given phrasing about a length of time. We're simply told that eternal life is knowing Jesus. Knowing Jesus. Now, within this passage in Galatians, Paul is referring to an event that does occur after one's death or after one's life. But the term eternal life itself, even within this context, carries much more weight than just Paul telling us that if you do good works, if you sow to the spirit to please the spirit, well, then hey, you get to live forever. It's so much more than that. What he tells the Galatians is that if you sow to the Spirit, if you continue in good works for God, you will know Christ.
I really appreciate what AW Tozer has to say about this passage, and he puts it in words that are likely much better than mine. He says, "He that soweth to the spirit, shall of the Spirit reap everlasting life". There it is. And we have but to submit to it to gain from it an everlasting reward. Deeds done in the Spirit, in obedience to Christ, and with the purpose of bringing honour to the Triune God are seeds of endless blessedness. The first gift of life is not by works, but by faith in the work of a sufficient Redeemer. But after the miracle of new birth has been accomplished, the Christian, to a large extent, carries his future in his hands. If he denies himself and takes up his cross in meek obedience, his deeds will become Seeds of Life and everlasting joy. He may forget his deeds of love, or think of them small and useless, but God is not unmindful. The sweet harvest of a life well lived, will be there to meet the sower, after the toil is ended, and the heat of the day is past.
Paul tells the Galatians clearly, "Sow to the spirit, to please the spirit and from it, you will reap eternal life". That doesn't mean it's going to be easy. Why I appreciate the words of AW Tozer, was even says the sweet harvest of a life well lived will be there to meet the sower after the toil is ended and the heat of the day is past. It can be a difficult journey. Many of us may be in a place right now where we're experiencing that, even for those who are in the midst of exams, and you're probably wondering when will this toil end. When will the heat of the day past? But the truth that Paul speaks of, and that Tozer comments on, is that this gift of eternal life is won from the Spirit. We will reap knowledge of Jesus during our life here and now. And it is the good deeds that we do here on this earth that will give us a greater appreciation and knowledge of Jesus, as I mentioned here today, but on that great day, when we get to see him face to face, we will have an even more a greater appreciation for who he is. Because we spent a life sowing to the spirit, to please the Spirit, and to walk with Him.
As I think too, about the nature of this image that we're given, coming from this wisdom tradition, of the idea of sowing, it also provides us the context to understand that it takes time. To sow seeds is a process. Sometimes when we plant seeds, other seeds can take longer to bear fruit. Some may sprout very quickly. And if we take into the context of the whole book of Galatians, right before this, Paul was speaking about the fruit of the Spirit. Some of us might even be willing to say that it is easier for us to bear the fruit of love and joy, but patience and self control can be very difficult. But that's the encouragement that Paul gives us. He says, "Sow, sow to the Spirit". And this is what he gives, in his kind of final encouragement around the idea of sowing to the Spirit. He says, "Let's not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time, we will reap if we do not become weary". So Paul says sow to the spirit, don't sow to your flesh, don't do the things that just bring you your own comfort, your own joy. Don't just try to fulfill the own, your own pleasures in your life, but rather, sow to God, what pleases God. And he says, "Do not be become discouraged and doing these good works". Although the harvest may seem like it's lacking at times, although we may be struggling to even understand when this harvest will come. He says do not become discouraged, because in due time, at the right time, you will reap. In this life, there will be moments in which you sow seeds. And it'll bring you to a greater knowledge of who Jesus is. But it might come years down the line. There may be times even when you do something, to help somebody else, you carry the burden of another person. And you may experience an immediate sense of fruit from that. In which you know that the Spirit is with you, in which it guides you into a deeper knowledge of who Jesus is. But let's remember, do not become discouraged in doing good. For in due time, we will reap. And he also adds, if we do not become weary. Now, this can oftentimes be a misused phrase, as if we as people should never be tired, that we should never need rest, in a sense. And this is kind of some things that get promoted online now, by toxic influencers online, if I'm going to be honest, they'll tell you, you should never be tired, you should wake up, grind, work harder. Who needs rest, right? Rest is for the weak. This is not Paul's message to us.
There is a great difference between growing weary, because you are doing good things and growing weary of doing good things. We do, and I hope we do, good things, that we sow seeds for the kingdom of God. And by, after those moments and those experiences, especially after carrying somebody else's burdens, we can feel very tired. That's okay. But those experiences in which we do something good, and perhaps even they frustrate us, it should not lead us to grow weary of doing good things. We should be persistent, and constant in doing good things. That is our call as believers, because in due time, we'll reap. I appreciate what a commentator on Galatians has to say about this ending passage. He says "Paul's message to the Galatians is quite simply don't quit. Faced with a temptation of legalism on the one hand and libertinism on the other, many of Paul's converts and Galatia were beginning to lose heart. Having begun well in the life of the Spirit, they were in danger of losing their first love, being diverted from witness and service into petty bickering, and greedy self concern. To these fatigued and spiritually exhausted Christians, Paul made his appeal. Let us not become weary of doing good".
And that is my hope and prayer for all of us, that we would not become weary in doing good. It is hard, it is tough at times, I don't think anybody would say carrying somebody else's burdens is an easy task. But it is our task. It's what Jesus did for us. We've spent this last weekend focusing on the death and resurrection of Jesus, and throughout the wording of Scripture, we're told that Christ bears our sin, He bears away our sin on the cross. And as Collossians speaks of it, our sins are nailed to the cross with him. He bore our burden, He took it away from us, so that we could be free to live life in the Spirit, to do good works, to follow His way, and to fulfill the law of Christ. As He takes on that punishment for our sin, and sets us free and removes it from us and cleanses us, we are told now that we are free to do good works. "Do not grow weary in doing good works".
I'll end with perhaps a personal favorite of mine. But I think it gets to the heart of this message as well. I'll be quoting from a movie that I quite enjoy. It's from Lord of the Rings. I don't have time to go into the whole history of Lord of the Rings, and the background of this context. But I hope for those of you who know the story will be able to catch along quite quickly. And for those who haven't, perhaps read it before or watched the movies, this will be something new for you. But I hope you can also catch the context here. Frodo and Sam are on their journey to destroy the ring, and on this journey they've been, basically come to a crossroads, a place of unsurity. They have an opportunity to press forward in the good that they're doing, or to draw back and to turn away from their task. And this is their conversation that they have with each other at this time. Frodo says, "I can't do this, Sam". Sam responds. "I know. It's all wrong. By rights, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn't want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much has happened? But in the end, it's only a passing thing. This shadow, even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now, folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back. Only they did it because they were holding on to something." And Frodo responds, "What are we holding on to Sam?" and Sam says that "There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo and it's worth fighting for."
I believe there's good in this world. And it's worth fighting for. I believe God is with us. I believe we're part of a story, where we have the option to continue forward in what we are called to do, or to turn back. We have the opportunity to sow to our flesh, to reap destruction. And we also have the opportunity to do good works for the Spirit, to bear each other's burdens, to give up our time and our resources, to be a listening ear. We have that opportunity, because it is the opportunity for us to get to know Jesus, to reap eternal life. Every good work, every good deed, every good word is another step in getting to know the life of Christ. And Jesus is the one who we hold on to. He is the good, and it's worth us fighting for, to continue forward, even though we might be weary or tired after this year, or throughout this whole pandemic. Paul tells us "Don't grow weary of doing good. Keep pressing forward."
I'm going to close in a word of prayer. This is Psalm 27, verses seven to nine.
"Hear my voice when I call, Lord. Be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, seek His face. Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me. Do not turn your servant away in anger, you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God, my Saviour." Dear Lord, with this prayer of this psalm, I pray as well through Galatians that God you would inspire us to carry each other's burdens. God reveal to us what that looks like in each of our individual lives, in scenarios that we exist within. I pray that You would help us fulfill your law. Lord, do not let us deceive ourselves. Help us to be self reflective people who test our actions. Help us not to compare ourselves to someone else or use our status to put others down. God you cannot be mocked. And you tell us that we will reap what we sow. God, although we don't always understand when that harvest will come, I pray that we would still not grow weary, that we would sow to please you, that we would do good works for you. God thank you that our good works are not for nothing, that you are a God who is mindful. Thank you that through these experiences we can reap eternal life, not that this earns us the right to live forever, Lord, but ultimately, you provide us these good works to know you better and to glorify You. So Lord, it is our prayer that you would help us to not become weary and we trust that at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Amen. And go in peace.
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