MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #209.)
A. When you were a child did you ever have a special place, a secret place where you could go & be all alone?
ILL. I heard a story once about a boy who did. On the back of their property was an old fruit tree. It had lots of leaves, but it had produced no fruit in years. High up in its branches, hidden from view by the leaves, there was a perfect spot for a little boy to sit & dream away the hours.
There he was a space ship commander traveling to galaxies unknown. He was a Tarzan, living in a jungle world. And he was a philosopher, solving the riddles of the ages.
There, too, he would go when he felt mistreated, or misunderstood, or when he felt all alone. Little boys feel that way sometimes. That tree was his hideaway, special to him & to his best friend, another little boy down the road.
So you can imagine how he felt when he heard his father telling his mother, "I think I’ll cut down that old fruit tree. It hasn’t borne any fruit in years."
What could the little boy do? If he begged his father not to do it, then he would have to say why, & his secret hideaway would be a secret no more.
Then he hit upon a wonderful plan. Since there were a number of apple trees in a field nearby, he & his best friend got a whole basket full. That evening, while his parents were busy inside, he & his friend climbed the tree & tied the stems of the apples to almost every limb of the old fruit tree.
Well, the next morning his father went out & looked at the old tree, & was amazed to see that it was laden with big, fat apples. And the little boy waited to see how his father would react.
His father came back inside &, with a twinkle in his eye, said, "You’re not going to believe this, but a miracle took place last night. That old fruit tree is full of apples. There are fat, juicy apples on almost every branch."
His wife smiled & said, "That’s amazing." "Yes," the father answered, "& it is even a double miracle because that’s not an apple tree. It’s a pear tree."
APPL. We smile at that because apple trees don’t produce pears & pear trees don’t produce apples. When you sow apple seeds you expect apples. When you sow pear seeds you expect pears. When you sow wheat you expect wheat, because we learned a long, long time ago that what you sow is what you reap.
Listen to the familiar words of Galatians 6:7 9. Paul writes, "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." (Galatians 6:7-9)
B. Now this principle that the apostle Paul shares with us here has been around for a long time. In fact, Paul was not the first to say it.
1. Jesus taught that principle in His parables. You remember the parable about the farmer who went out & sowed good seed in his field? (Matthew 13:24-30) Then as he slept, an enemy came & sowed bad seed (weeds) among the good.
No one knew about it until the two kinds of seeds started to grow. One day a servant discovered that there were weeds growing among the wheat. He rushed in & told the master that wheat & weeds were growing side by side.
They concluded, "If wheat & weeds are growing side by side it means that two kinds of seed have been planted." Wheat seed doesn’t produce weeds, & weed seeds don’t produce wheat.
2. Back in the O.T., in Hosea 8:7, the prophet Hosea said, "If you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind."
3. Even further back, in Exodus 21:24 Moses says, "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, wound for wound." Moses is talking about reaping what you sow.
4. And we can even go back to Genesis 1:11 where God forms the earth & says, "Let the ground bring forth grass, & the herb yielding seed, & every fruit bearing tree bring forth fruit after its own kind. And it was so." The principle of sowing & reaping is as old as life itself. What you sow is what you reap.
C. But Paul began his statement of this eternal principle with some very disturbing words, "Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked." Why did Paul say that? Is it possible for us to be deceived?
Maybe we think we have pulled the wool over God’s eyes, that God doesn’t see what we are doing, or know what is going on inside our hearts & minds.
But Paul says, "You must not deceive yourselves. You are not deceiving God. God knows what kind of seed you are sowing, & whatever kind of seed you sow, that is the kind of seed you will reap when the day of harvest comes."
PROP: With that in mind, there are four important lessons in this passage that I want to call to your attention this morning.
I. WISE SOWERS SOW WITH THE HARVEST IN MIND
A. The first is this, "Wise sowers sow with the harvest in mind."
I’m not a farmer. But I think that if we were to go to a farmer when he is sowing seed & ask him why he is sowing, he would tell us that he is sowing seed in hopes of getting a good harvest. I really don’t imagine that He ever sows just for the fun of sowing.
Maybe sowing could be fun. In the springtime birds are singing, & the sun is shining brightly. After being cooped up all winter, it is just great being outdoors in the beautiful spring weather. But even with all that going for them, I’m convinced that farmers never sow just for the fun of sowing.
B. But in our personal lives, I’m afraid that many people enjoy their sowing, without ever giving a thought about the harvest that is to come.
ILL. That is one explanation for the generation gap that we hear so much about. Over there is a younger generation who is enjoying the fun of sowing, & they never think about the harvest.
But over here is an older generation who also sowed without considering the harvest. But time has passed, & now they’re beginning to reap their harvest, & that makes a big difference in the way they look at life.
So now they’re trying to warn those who are following in their footsteps, but no one pays much attention.
Paul calls that "sowing to please the sinful nature." We call it "sowing wild oats." But the harvest of destruction is the same.
ILL. A few years ago, Ann Landers published a letter from a prison inmate. It was a pathetic letter that really tugged at your emotions, written by a man whose mother had just died, & he couldn’t attend her funeral because he was in prison.
He wrote, not to complain about the legal system, because he said that he really did deserve what he was getting. But he wrote to tell the story of his life, how his mother’s one wish was that he would be released from prison before she died. And how that one wish was never realized.
He said, "The reason I am in prison is because I thought I could take shortcuts, that somehow I could ignore the rules, & get away with it." But he didn’t, & you really never do.
Think about the Apostle Paul. It would have seemed smarter for Paul to have remained just a Jew, because he had prestige & honor among them. He was a respected teacher & leader in Jewish circles.
But when Paul became a Christian, he started suffering. He was beaten & imprisoned & finally killed because he believed in Jesus. But, you see, Paul was sowing with his mind on the harvest, & that made all the difference.
So remember, the first lesson we learn from this Scripture is that “Wise sowers sow with the harvest in mind.”
II. YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU SOW
Our second lesson is brief, but also very important. "You will reap what you sow. You will not reap something else, you will reap exactly what you sow." If you sow wild oats, you will not reap corn. You will reap wild oats.
A. Right now I am sowing seed, & so are you. Now is a time of seed sowing for us. But there are two times of harvest.
Some of the seed we have sown in times past is being harvested right now. I am starting to harvest some of the seed that I sowed years ago in an aching back & knees that snap & pop. You know what I mean.
We go through many experiences in life, & in the here & now we begin to reap the harvest of some of the seed that we have sown.
B. But it is also true that the seed we sow will be the determining factor in where we will spend eternity, & we will reap that harvest forever.
So there are two times of harvest, now & forever. So a 2nd lesson is that “For all eternity you will reap what you sowed.”
III. YOU ALWAYS HARVEST MORE THAN YOU SOW
A. There is a third lesson in this passage of Scripture, & it is simply that you always harvest more than you sow.
ILL. You ask a farmer how much seed corn he is planting, & he might reply, "Oh, 15 or 20 bushels."
Then you ask him, "How many bushels do you expect to harvest?" And if he answers, "Oh, 15 or 20 bushels," you’ll wonder about him, because that doesn’t make any sense at all, to expect to harvest only as much as you have sown.
So that is not the answer he will give. He’ll say, "I expect to reap wagon loads of corn. I expect to reap much more than I sowed."
You see, the great principle of sowing & reaping not only tells us that we will reap what we sow, but also that we will reap more than we sow.
B. That is true no matter what we are sowing. There are a lot of people today beginning to reap the seed they sowed in their youth. And they’re crying, "I didn’t do anything to deserve this."
ILL. Maybe they experimented a little with drugs, & the flashbacks have been going on ever since. They wake up in a whirl saying, "It’s worse than anybody can imagine. Why me? I didn’t do anything so bad back then."
But you see, that’s the principle of sowing & reaping. Whatever you sow you’re going to reap, & you will reap much more than you sowed.
C. I’m glad that the principle works both ways. There have been many times that I have thought, "Lord, what did I ever do to deserve such a wonderful wife, & three good kids, who have made me grandpa of such, well, pretty nice grandkids & great-grandkids? I really didn’t do anything to deserve all this."
SUM: One day we all will wake up in a new world. The Bible says that some will wake up in hell where there is weeping & wailing & gnashing of teeth, & they’ll cry, "We didn’t do anything to deserve this. We weren’t that bad."
Some will wake up in heaven, on the streets of gold, standing before the throne of God, surrounded by angels praising God day & night. And they, too, will say, "We didn’t do anything to deserve all this."
But you see, whether it is for good or for bad, not only will we reap what we sowed, but we will always reap much more than we sowed.
IV. EVEN INNOCENT PEOPLE WILL REAP THE SEED THAT WE SOW
A. One last point. Even innocent people will reap the seed that we sow.
Adam & Eve introduced sin into the world back in the Garden of Eden. And every time you & I stand before the grave of a loved one we are reaping the harvest of the seed they sowed back in the Garden of Eden.
Every time we deal with weaknesses, with infirmities, with diseases, we’re reaping the seed that they sowed back in the Garden of Eden. We had nothing to do with sowing that seed. But today we’re still reaping because of the seed that was sown back there in the beginning of time.
It is true in our homes, too, isn’t it? If we’re sowing seeds of dishonesty & greed in the hearts & lives of our children, they aren’t sowing the seeds, but they will reap the harvest.
If we’re sowing seeds of love, joy & peace in the hearts of our children, they will reap that harvest, too, even though they didn’t sow the seeds.
SUM: So the seed that we sow, the life that we live, affects many more people than just ourselves.
B. Paul said, "Do not be deceived." I wonder, how many are deceived? How many are thinking that they’re pulling the wool over God’s eyes & that they’re getting by with something? How many are thinking only about the fun of sowing, & never about the harvest to come?
How many of us think that we can actually live according to the world & still inherit heaven? Paul says, "Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked."
CONCL. Now here is the best news. If you’re not very proud of the seed you have sown, then the best news is that Jesus Christ came to die for your sins & for mine, & to cleanse us with His own precious blood.
And when we accept Him as our Lord & Savior, & are obedient to Him in Christian baptism, then we are promised that all our bad seeds, all our past sins, will be forgiven & forgotten by God.
That is the Lord’s invitation. I pray that you will respond to it as we stand & as we sing.