Question: "What does it mean to do good unto all men in Galatians 6:10?"
Answer: Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (ESV). The King James Version uses the word men, but the meaning encompasses all people.
Christians have the command to “make every effort to add to your faith goodness” (2 Peter 1:5). We should be known for our goodness. When people hear the word Christian, their first thoughts should be of honor, integrity, kindness, and good deeds. The idea of doing good to all men echoes Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Our lights shine when we follow Jesus’ example of doing good wherever we go (Acts 10:38).
In our efforts to do good, we must not overlook the priority Paul sets in Galatians 6:10. We are to do good to everyone, but we are to pay special attention to the family of Christ. How we treat our fellow believers is a sign of our faith: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). That love for the family of God shows itself in acts of goodness and charity (1 John 3:17) and is, in fact, one proof of salvation (1 John 2:9). We start doing good unto all men by softening our hearts toward our brothers and sisters in Christ and dedicating ourselves to their well-being, as though it were our own.
Part of doing good to all men is that we don’t return evil for evil (Romans 12:17). Jesus called us to set aside our natural reaction when someone wrongs us. Instead, we are to repay evil with good (Romans 12:21). This was written by someone living under the tyranny of Emperor Nero. Christians were being persecuted, their property seized, and their lives taken (Acts 8:4; Hebrews 10:33–34). So the command was not given lightly. Paul understood what that meant for Roman Christians. But he also knew that, when we return good for evil, we are allowing God to bring His righteous judgment upon the evildoers instead of taking matters into our own hands (Hebrews 10:30).
Another way we do good unto all men is that we actively search for ways we can bless people. Throughout history, Christians have led the way in building orphanages, founding schools, funding hospitals, digging water wells, and meeting the practical needs of people. Scores of Christian organizations around the world were created to rescue those caught in human trafficking, feed starving children, and minister to the suffering and persecuted. Most Christian missionaries serve on foreign soil at great personal cost to their finances and their families. They do so because they are following Jesus’ mandate to take the gospel to all the world (Matthew 28:19). They are doing good to those who have no way to repay them. They are obeying Jesus’ words from Matthew 6:3–4: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Doing good can start today, with little things. Whatever our circumstance, there is some way to do something good for someone, to the glory of God. A small goodness is better than no goodness and can, in fact, have a great impact. As Samuel Johnson said, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once will never do any.”