Summary: Everyone has bad days. Everyone stumbles. Even the best of us fail. What will you do?
Don’t get tired
I had a friend in college who used to say, "get behind early, that way you have plenty of time to catch up."
His philosophy was supported by the assumption that nobody could keep up. You might as well fall behind in a way that makes sense.
It does stand to reason that nobody succeeds at everything all the time. We all fail and we all get discouraged. The trick is not in succeeding all the time, but in knowing how to treat our failures.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
(Galatians 6:7-10 NIV)
What seed are we sowing?
Paul makes a great point of illustrating the difference between acts of righteousness and acts of wickedness in the former passage. He lists out 15 different kinds of sinful behavior and 9 virtues we call the Fruit of the Spirit. He says:
• Don’t do the sinful stuff
• Do bear the fruit of the Spirit
• If we do the sinful stuff, things that please our flesh, we are sowing seeds of destruction and our spirits will be ravaged
• If we sow fruit of the Spirit we will reap eternal life
Verse 7 warns us of what many call the law of sowing and reaping. When we sow seeds of destruction with the expectation that God will bail us out, we are mocking Him. We are treating Him with contempt. I like the way the New English Translation says this:
Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, (Gal 6:7)
So we are called to abandon acts that fulfill our sinful inclinations. Instead we are called to invest in the righteous behavior that is described in the Fruit of the Spirit.
When we quit trying to make a fool out of God and do what is right, then we are sowing seeds of eternal life.
Let me be clear, your salvation is bought by Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross, you cannot buy it with good works. However, every time you sow a virtue, you reap a crop of eternal, living value, as certainly as sowing sin does supernatural damage.
Our souls are bought by Christ, but our actions are not irrelevant. There is eternal, living value in the good you do.
• So we must persist
• We must have spiritual and physical stamina
• We must endure
Like the song that Irma sings, Thank You, we never know how much good can grow from the good we sow. It may seem small to us, even pointless, but God has a use for every good work you are called to do.
Paul says don’t give up
It is hard, there is no doubt about that. In Galatians alone, Paul talks about several spiritual hurdles he had to jump in order to persist in the faith.
• He had to patiently wait for his own maturity to develop
• He had to overcome the hypocrisy of the apostles
• He had to counteract the false teachers that were trying to lead the Galatians astray
This letter is one more step in the exercise of the virtues of patience and faithfulness, two of the Fruits of the Spirit.
Paul was able to do this because he had faith that:
in due time we will reap, if we do not give up
No orchard keeper ever planted an apple tree one day expecting to bake a pie the next.
• He had to plant
• He had to weed
• He had to fertilize
• He had to water
• He had to prune
• He had to spray
He had to do a hundred other things that I don’t know about because I don’t have his wisdom. He had to do this for many months. Then he gets his pie.
It takes patience and persistence to see the crop of eternal life grow from the seeds of virtue we plant today. But if we give up, the tree will wither before it has a chance.
Here are a few scenarios
Many of you have decided to attend a Bible discussion group on the Sermon on the Mount this year. One Thursday evening, you are tired and don’t feel like going. There is something on TV you wanted to watch. It’s been a rough week and you deserve a break. But you made a commitment, and you are certain that you will be missed if you aren’t there, and maybe Lloyd would call you and you would have to explain.