Sowing and Reaping (A Study in Galatians)


Galatians 6:7-10 

I recall when my daughter was assigned a science project. We called around for ideas on what to do and decided we would try to prove whether or not a nail could be protected from rust. We coated one nail with paint, dipped another in engine oil, and sprayed a third with WD-40. The fourth nail we left unprotected. We hung the nails on a piece of string and placed them outside for ten days. During this time, we had all types of weather. On the tenth day, we went outside to record the results. The unprotected nail had rusted. The one sprayed with WD-40 only had a small amount of rust. The other two had no signs of rust.

For this project or any other project to be scientific, it must be repeatable. Science involves cause and effect with repeatable situations. It concerns the laws of nature and how they operate. The universe itself operates according to these rules. If it did not, science would not exist.

Paul also speaks of cause and effect in these verses. He gives one of the great moral absolutes of the world: what we sow we will reap. This is true in the physical aspect and the spiritual.

Sowing is Essential

Deceived means to lead astray. Paul says not to be deceived because God is not mocked. What we sow we will reap, and what we want to sow are good things. Paul called on the Galatians not to be led astray by such people as the Judaizers. They tried to trick the Galatian Christians into believing they had to obey the Mosaic ceremonies and laws of the Old Testament for salvation. Paul said it was only through the grace of Jesus Christ and our faith in him that salvation came. We can’t add anything to the free grace of Jesus.

We deceive ourselves if we think there is some other way to come to God other than by Jesus Christ. We deceive ourselves if we think we can sin as Christians and get away with it. Through our sowing of what is good, we prove we are children of God. James wrote; “Prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude yourselves” (1:22).

When people try to come to God some other way, it mocks the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When Christians live in sin despite their forgiveness, it mocks God. Mocked carries the idea of turning our noses up at something as if to scorn or sneer. Believers are not exempt from this law of sowing and reaping. To live as if we are, mocks God.

It is important for the believer to sow good in their own personal lives and in the world. The Bible says; “Those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it” (Job 4:8). On the other hand, those who sow good harvest good.

We should follow the example of Jesus who sowed perfect righteousness and reaped eternal life. Through faith in him, we can do the same. When we sow faith in Jesus, we will never have to worry about reaping the consequences of our sin because Jesus paid for them. We will still have heartaches, sorrows, shame, and wounds, but when we sow faith in Christ we will reap eternal life. When we sow sin, God plants that feeling of guilt in us to point us back to the right way.

Paul says we should do good to all people while we have opportunity, especially for our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. Opportunity refers to the total opportunity we have during our earthly existence. We must work effectively and diligently to take every opportunity to sow for God’s glory.

The good Paul speaks of is the moral and spiritual excellence that comes as fruits of the Spirit. This good we speak with our mouths and perform with our hands. One of the best means to demonstrate the truth of our Christianity is to do good for others. This is also the best way to make others sit up and notice the genuineness of our faith. Paul said, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach” (Titus 2:7).

Sowing good to those who do not know Christ as Savior is important, but it is also vital that we sow good to those of the faith. How much we love other Christians is the acid test of how much we love God. The Bible reminds us; “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love those of the faith” (1 John 3:14). Again; “If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:20).

How important it is to sow good even from the earliest years of life. A person’s character is formed early in life. Allowing a child to have his own way will result in an adult that expects the same.

Vain Pursuits Will Fail

The one who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption. The Christian has only two fields to sow in: the flesh or the Spirit. Flesh refers to the residence of sin that still resides in the believer. We are given power over it by God through the new nature he gives. However, we are all still subject to and do fall into sin periodically. If we sow to the flesh by pandering to the evil desires of it, we will reap the consequences. If we do not allow the Spirit of God to subdue these desires, this is exactly what will happen.

The particular sin Paul addresses was the sin of legalism as proposed to the Galatians by the Judaizers. Many of them were placing human works above the grace of God in Christ. They were turning back to their own resources and power.

The result is and was corruption. This refers to degeneration or going from better to worse. It was sometimes used of decaying food. When a believer chooses to sin or sow to the flesh, corruption will result. We will lose the effectiveness of our testimony and fail to show forth the fruits of the Spirit that draw others to Christ.

All vain pursuits of sowing to the flesh will end in failure.

Spiritual Pursuits Lead to Success

The opposite of fleshly pursuits is spiritual pursuits. The results are also different. The one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life. When we occupy ourselves with the things of God, we will produce the fruits of the Spirit. We will also walk and live by the Spirit. We will abide in Christ and walk in him. We will do as the Bible instructs us to in giving our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice that is acceptable to God.

The product of spiritual pursuits is eternal life. This we receive as soon as we trust Christ as our Savior. This eternal life does not take away the warring battle that takes place on a daily basis, but it does point to a time when the battle will cease.

Encouragement is Needed

Sometimes, it is easy to lose heart or become discouraged when doing good. Often, we are not rewarded by others for doing good. Paul reminds us that in due time we will reap our reward if we do not grow weary.

Serving the Lord does not take away problems, frustrations, or even persecution for our faith. Paul was certainly evidence of that. Sometimes it may seem we serve the Lord but see little evidence of the Lord’s blessings. Sometimes the reaping is not immediate. The Puritan saint John Brown wrote, “Many Christians are like children; they would sow and reap the same day.”

Paul warns us not to grow weary or lose heart. We should not allow ourselves to get exhausted and give up. This is why it is so important that we encourage one another. The writer of Hebrews sets forth the example of Jesus in this matter. He wrote, “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart” (12:3).

We must not be spiritually lazy. Not only must we talk about serving the Lord but we must also truly do it. Since it is so easy to get discouraged when we see few results from our work, we must encourage one another in the faith. In due time, we shall reap. We will receive our eternal blessing and reward.

Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7).

Whatever we sow, we reap.

Martin Wiles
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