Play the Long Game
Read Galatians 6:9-10 (ESV)
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.
Have you ever grown weary of serving God faithfully? What keeps you going?
The richest man in my home state of Nebraska is Warren Buffett. It is well known here that Buffett acquired his wealth by playing the long game. In other words, he isn't a risky, high stakes investor just looking for a quick return. He has been a patient and wise investor who looks for low-risk opportunities to invest in and then waits for interest to compound. Sure, this strategy required delayed gratification, but it paid off. He made smart investments in his younger years and acquired the vast majority of his wealth in the later part of his life.
But today, we aren’t giving you financial investment advice. Instead, we are reading the apostle Paul’s spiritual investment advice. In today’s verses, he urged the Galatian church not to get discouraged and quit doing good. He said it will pay off in the end if we keep at it. Paul recommended that we play the spiritual long game.
Paul used an agricultural analogy to illustrate his point. Farmers and gardeners invest their money into the proper equipment, fertilizer, pesticides, etc. and they invest their time in preparing the soil, planting the seeds, irrigating, and cutting out the weeds. They also know they can’t harvest until it is the proper season. The crops have to be ready before they can reap what they sow. If they grow weary of the hard work involved and quit, they’ll miss out on the reward. But if they wait patiently and continue to nurture the crops until harvest, they will reap bountifully.
As believers in Christ, we have the privilege of participating in God’s work. It is good and holy work. But some days, it is easy to get discouraged because we can’t always see the fruit of our labor right away. Maybe you are a missionary who has put in years of service to a community of people, but you aren’t aware of even one convert yet. Maybe you are a pastor faithfully preaching the Word every Sunday, but you are still concerned with your congregations’ level of biblical literacy. Maybe you are a parent, trying to disciple your children and grow them up in the faith but family devotions and faith conversations are like a circus. It doesn’t seem like anyone is listening anyway. You consistently give generously to those in need but when you see others taking lavish vacations or always buying the latest and greatest gadgets, you are tempted to join them and start spending your money on yourself. Some days, we grow weary of doing good.
On those days remember this—the rewards for our investments are a sure thing but we have to wait for the harvest. Our reward for doing good is not a temporal, earthly return on our investment. In fact, we may or may not see the fruit of our labor here on earth. The promise was not a quick turnaround. The promise was a reward “in due season.” But it is worth the wait because the reward is eternal and far surpasses any earthly reward!
As believers in Jesus Christ, we patiently wait for our reward and while we wait, we work. Like the farmer, we keep sowing seeds. We keep watering the ground. We keep pulling out the weeds and we keep protecting the crops from pests. We trust God for the outcome of our labor, and we know that He sees and will reward our faithful obedience.
Friends, it might be tempting to play the short game. You might think you can actually get ahead at work if you are willing to compromise your personal integrity. You might be tempted to live it up and enjoy life now. You may want to blow your money on yourself and make selfish decisions with your time and energy. But while you may think there is a quick return on playing the short game in this life, the reality is that the rewards you are earning will be short-lived. You know what they say, “easy come, easy go.”
Instead, let’s play the long game. Let’s keep making investments in God’s kingdom by selflessly serving others and patiently waiting for the eternal blessings that God has promised for our faithfulness. It will be more than worth it! As the martyred missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to earn what he cannot lose.” That’s just smart investing.
Lord, I confess that I sometimes grow weary of doing good. It can be hard to wait patiently for the rewards that You have promised in due season. But I trust You. I know that the rewards You have promised will far outweigh any short-term, temporary, earthly gain. Help me be patient and faithful. Give me the strength to keep doing good for Your glory. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford