Summary: Forgiveness is one of the most precious of all blessings. Yet, as blessed as it is to be lifted, it is more blessed never to have fallen.
Doing your best could be the worst thing you could do. That
sounds like a contradiction, but it can be explained so that it makes
sense as a paradox. A paradox is a statement, which at first sight
seems absurd, and contrary to common sense, but which can be
explained so as to be well grounded and true in fact. It is not hard to
figure out the paradox in the statement that the new cars are wider,
longer, lower, and higher. That they are lower in relation to the
ground, and higher in relation to your bank account is easy to see.
Many paradoxes are not so obvious. Some of the beatitudes of Jesus,
for example are paradoxes. Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed
are those who mourn, and blessed are those who are persecuted for
righteousness sake. These need some deeper thinking before the
clouds of obscurity will clear away, and let the light of truth shine
So it is with the statement, doing your best can be the worst thing
you can do. It is contrary to a normal pattern of thinking, but all it
takes is one illustration to turn it into a paradoxical statement of
truth. A minister of a large church had his assistant preach the
sermon on Sunday morning. He wanted to slip away to play golf. He
drove the ball with terrific accuracy, and everything he did seem to
go perfect, and he finished the 18 holes with a remarkable 68. It was
the first time he ever broke 100. He was over joyed and elated until
it struck him, he would never be able to tell anyone about it because
of the circumstances. Had he played an average game, there would
be nothing to tell, but he had gone and done his very best, and now
he couldn't share his excitement. Doing his best under those
circumstances proved to be the worst thing he could do. His great
pleasure paradoxically became his punishment.
Doing your best at any act of evil is always the worst thing you
can do. The thing to notice about the nature of paradox is that it
keeps you aware of the complexity of reality. It keeps you aware of
the danger of oversimplification. We tend to take a legitimate aspect
of reality and make it the whole. Paradox forces us to keep an open
mind, and seek to reconcile contradictory aspects of life. The
Christian who cannot accept paradox as part of reality will often be
distressed, because life refuses to conform to the logic of what he feels
ought to be. Everything can make sense, however, to one who is
willing to see the paradoxical nature of reality.
A blessed curse sounds like nonsense, but a little thought can
make it a precious truth. The Scripture says, "Cursed is every man
who is hung upon a tree." Jesus was hung upon a tree, and crucified
for our sin. His curse became the means by which all of our sins are
forgiven. Who can think of a curse that ever led to greater blessings?
It was indeed a blessed curse, and no longer a statement of nonsense.
I emphasize the reality of paradox because Paul is so paradoxical in
this passage of Gal. 6. The paradox we want to consider concerns a
blessing we are to avoid. It sounds unreasonable to even suggest that
we should try and avoid one of God's blessings, but that is exactly
what God's expects us to do, and exactly what we want to do when
we understand the meaning of the paradox.
No one will doubt that guilt is one of the heaviest burdens a man
can bear, and no one will doubt that forgiveness is one of the most
precious of all blessings. Yet, as blessed as it is to be lifted, it is more
blessed never to have fallen. The blessing we are to avoid, therefore,
is the blessing of being the one who is restored through forgiveness.
While helping the fallen experience this blessing, we are to be careful
to avoid it ourselves. It is a blessing that can only come through first
disobeying God. To be eligible for forgiveness we must first sin, and,
therefore, this is a blessing we are to avoid.
A Sunday School teacher asked her class what is the first thing we
must do to obtain forgiveness of sin? A little boy spoke up and said,
"Sin!" It was not the expected answer, but a correct one, and
because they only way to obtain this goal is by the route of evil, it is a
way we are not to travel. It is a blessing we are never to chose, but
one we are to receive only because of necessity due to the fact that we