New Zealand’s Dale Garratt has encouraged thousands over the years through Scripture in Song music and books from the ’70s and ’80s. Now she encourages us with the written word, beginning with a magnificent quote from John Wesley . . .
Do all the good you can
By all the means you can
In all the ways you can
In all the places you can
At all the times you can
To all the people you can
As long as ever you can
This John Wesley quote is a challenge worth serious consideration and if it seems a bit overwhelming, ‘the law of the farm’ is firmly in place to spur us on. That law says: If a farmer sows corn, he doesn’t reap cabbages.
If we sow good works, there are two kinds of reaping in store for us: one is here and now because God is in debt to no one so ‘all the good we do’ will come right on back. In fact, it is very clear in Luke 6:38 “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
It makes you stop and think a bit—kindness for kindness, generosity for generosity—and on the other hand, frugality for frugality. Even mean spiritedness will find a way to visit us if we dish it out as well. However this is far too exciting a subject for us to dwell on negatives. So, let us consider the two kinds of rewards. Firstly, we will reap just as we sow, which in itself is a motivation to do good and sow well.
Reaping and sowing
Proverbs 11:25 defines it this way: “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” The bottom line is we cannot lose because God, who showers us with loving kindness and tender mercies, set up this system through his divine justice. In fact, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10).
This says to me that we not only ‘do good’, but we do it as believers because it is already part of God’s plan for us. When he calls, he enables and because of his Father’s heart, he then rewards us and refreshes us and we are satisfied. So here on earth we have satisfaction in knowing that our good works are noted and returned back to us in the same measure. All those little unseen or unnoticed kindnesses returned . . . of course! Because God is just.
The other reward
There’s another reward and it has to do with eternity and the time when we will all face our Creator. Matthew’s gospel gives a riveting account of just why we need to do good down here on earth. It is a kind of Steven Spielberg scene in high drama. He says: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, [imagine that] he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (Mat 25:31-32)
I will paraphrase the dialogue from here . . .
Now the sheep are at his right hand and the goats at his left. He makes the grand invitation for those on the right to come and inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. What happens next is astounding because it all comes down to this: As Jesus the Son of God explains, “I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was unclothed, I was sick and I was in prison and you cared for me.”
The righteous ones then ask him: “When did this happen? When did we ever see you with these dire needs?”
His reply is simply, “I assure you when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you were doing it to me.”
To those on the left in reply to their questions he just said, “When you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters you were refusing to help me.”
This begs the question: if we are to be conformed to the image of Jesus, and as believers that surely is our goal, shouldn’t we pay attention? If we can’t act, we can pray; if we can’t give tangibly, we can encourage.
Our attitude towards our resources and our God-given gifts will determine how much good we do and ultimately on which side we sit.
The stunner for me though (and my favourite verse in the Bible), is one that shows the heart of the one I believe in and why I want to use every opportunity to do good.
Luke 12:37 says, “It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.” Surely this is the definitive act of divine goodness. CW