Sowing and Reaping
Galatians 6:1-10 July 4, 2021
The longer I live and the more I observe the more I realize that there are certain eternal laws that we do well to consider. Depending on our response to these laws, we will either face disaster after disaster or find life in abundance. Some might call these eternal values or rules. We live in a culture where many believe that the rules we live by are determined by our own whims and felt needs. Others believe that the situation one lives in dictates the values one lives by. There are others who believe that there are eternal God-given laws we do well to live by if we are to live the best way humans can live. In a “do-your-own-thing” world anything goes and anarchy and disaster is the result. Let us consider the matter of eternal laws, values and rules.
Whether one believes that eternal laws exist or denies them, everyone lives under them. We are not gods and do not have the power to make or destroy the Lord’s laws. Whether we believe or not, eternal laws and values undergird the whole of life. The Ten Commandments are ten eternal values which, if lived out in one’s life, lead one to a high quality of life. We know how destructive life becomes when those basic values are ignored. We know how destructive murder, theft and covetousness are. Contrary to movies and popular television programs we know how destructive adultery is to marriages and families. Regardless of whether one believes in eternal laws, there are eternal, God-given values, laws, and rules.
Jesus was one who taught about eternal values. He taught kingdom values which have also stood the test of time. He went beyond the laws taught in the Ten Commandments. He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).” He also said, “And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 27:39).” In addition he said, “But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).” Jesus taught the eternal value of sacrificial love. He taught us that God’s nature is self-giving love.
Today’s reading from Galatians reveals another of God’s eternal laws. We might call it the Law of rewards. Paul writes, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow (Galatians 6:7).” One of the newest translations renders the Greek: “Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow.” You cannot ignore God or God’s eternal laws and get away with it.
There are two parts to this eternal law. Paul writes, “If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh (Galatians 6:8).” That’s a statement packed with a lot of theological baggage. A newer translation reads: “Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death.” Paul reminds the Christians in Galatia that if they sow sinfulness they will harvest decay and death. In another location in Scripture, Paul writes: “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).” There are many people who are sowing seeds of a selfish, self-centered lifestyle who will one day discover that the consequences of such a lifestyle are not pleasure but decay and death. Living lives that ignore God leads to serious consequences. Anytime you are serving something or someone rather than God, you are ignoring God and will face the consequences. If you are living a life filled with human rationalizations and excuses, you will reap the consequences.
We humans are big on foolish expectations. If I go down to a nursery, buy a packet of green bean seeds, take them home and plant them, when the the plants mature what will I harvest? Green Beans, of course! If I plant Sugar Snap Peas, what will I harvest? Sugar Snap Peas, of course. If I plant corn seeds, what will I harvest? Corn, of course! You caught on quickly. I believe we are in a world where many have foolish expectations. If you plant thistle seeds, what will you harvest? Green beans? No. You will harvest thistles. If I plant Stinging Nettles what will I harvest? Sweet Corn? No! However, in people’s crazy expectations, they plant seeds of selfishness, greed and idolatry and expect to harvest eternal life. People who live their lives with no thought of God cannot expect to harvest a heavenly reward. If you spend all your life doing your own thing and mocking God, how can you expect eternal life in heaven? If you plant weeds, you will harvest weeds. That is one of God’s eternal laws. You don’t have to believe it or even agree with it. That’s just the way it is.
We live in a culture where millions engage in various lifestyles which destroy one’s body. Americans don’t exercise enough. Americans drink too much beverage alcohol. Americans smoke tobacco and other dangerous herbs. Americans engage in various kinds of dangerous sexual behavior. Americans fill their minds and hearts with violence. Americans eat too much. How can people expect to have strong bodies, minds and souls when one does things which lead to weak bodies, minds and souls? How can we expect to have strong bodies, minds and souls when we engage in activities that tear us down rather than build us up? Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God’s laws, rules, or values and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow!
There’s an old story about a stingy Christian who died and went to heaven. He was permitted entry at the Pearly Gates and an angel assigned to take him to the mansion that was waiting for him in heaven. As they walked the streets of gold he saw many beautiful, magnificent buildings where God’s saints lived. The more they walked; the more excited he became. The angel lead him onto a side street and then down an alley. At the end of the alley was a shack. It was nothing more than a few castoff boards loosely nailed together, no glass in the windows, and some tar paper on the roof. The angel said, “This is yours.” The man got indignant, angry and protested. However, the angel responded, “We did our best with what you sent up for us to work with.” You reap exactly what you sow.
There is another side to the Law of Rewards, to reaping what you sow. Paul writes, “But if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:8).” If you live to please the Spirit of God, you will harvest everlasting life. When you sow goodness and godliness, you will reap an abundant reward of everlasting life with God. When you sow grumpiness and complaints, what kind of a harvest will you get? You will get more grumpiness, more bitterness, complaining and despair. However, when you sow praise to God, what will you harvest? You will harvest blessing after blessing. When you sow encouragement, you yourself will reap a harvest of encouragement. When you sow God’s peace, you yourself will harvest of the peace that passes all understanding. Jesus reminds us of the paradox that it is in giving that we receive, and when we hold on to what we have, we lose everything.
This paradox is real. When it comes to financial giving, people who tithe (give 10% of their incomes or retirement pay) report they receive blessing after blessing. They don’t tithe in order to receive a blessing. Blessings just follow. Most people who tithe to God will tell you how God has poured out greater blessings on them. When we place God first and let God be in charge, we receive blessing after blessing. We reap what we sow and then some.
Paul also writes, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith (Galatians 6:9-10).” For some people doing good to others comes easily. For others, it does not. Since we are self-centered and self-focused, most of us have to consciously and intentionally plan to do good things for others. It is easy to look out for and take care of oneself. Paul tells us don’t get discouraged or tired of doing good for others. Plan to do good. Write notes of encouragement. Make phone calls to brighten another’s day. Look for ways you can encourage others. It’s easy to sit in the easy chair and watch TV. It’s easy to sow seeds of indolence and ease. But don’t expect to harvest wheat when you plant thistles. Paul tells us to never get discouraged nor tired of doing good then he says, “…especially to the family of faith”-- to our Christian brothers and sisters. The more we do good for each other the more we will realize the joy that comes from being a part of Christ’s church.
In recent decades there has been a rise in the number of business consultants. One fellow tells companies that they are perfectly designed to get the results they presently are getting. He is speaking about the Law of Rewards, of sowing and reaping. Your life is perfectly designed to get the results you are now getting for better or worse. The Law of Reward is real. We do reap what we sow. Remember the words of the apostle Paul: “Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow.”