Summary: We reap what we sow.
Ever hear of something called “jogging in a jug”? “Jogging in a Jug” is a concoction of 4 parts grape juice, 4 parts apple juice, and 1 part apple cider vinegar. Yum, yum! It’s a folk remedy for high cholesterol; a kind of “Drano” for your arteries. Supposedly, two ounces a day of this stuff and your insides will be as slick and clean as a whistle. Now, I don’t know if it works. It’s never been scientifically proven to do anything except cause you to make an awful face when you drink it. But wouldn’t it be great if it did? Just the name sounds appealing: “Jogging in a jug.” Wouldn’t it be great if you could gain all the benefits of jogging without actually having to exercise! If you could lower your cholesterol and improve your health without having to strap on your Nikes and “just do it”. If instead, you could “just drink it”? No getting up before dawn to drive to the gym; no hours of pain on the Stairmaster. Just a shot glass of vinegar and it’s “please pass the jelly doughnuts!”
Take another example. It used to be that if you ate junk food, you got fat. Now, we have Olestra, a fat substitute, so we can eat greasy potato chips and ice cream to our heart’s content without raising our cholesterol. Over the years, we’ve developed a multitude of artificial sweeteners – cyclamates, saccharin, aspartame – so we can drink all the sodas we want without rotting our teeth and expanding our middles. And if you do happen to eat something with actual fat or calories, you don’t need to go to the gym to lose weight. All that sweating and huffing and puffing is so 80’s. Now, you just make an appointment with your friendly local liposuctionist, and for a couple of thousand dollars, he’ll suck that fat right out.
In short, what we’re constantly trying to do is repeal the law of sowing and reaping, sever the connection between action and consequence. Not just with eating and drinking, but in every area of life. It’s a universal human urge: people to want to enjoy the benefits without paying the price. Take money. Why is the lottery so popular? It’s an opportunity to become wealthy without labor. There are other ways to acquire wealth, but they’re not nearly as appealing, because they all involve work. That’s whey we love game shows like “Who wants to be a millionaire?” Just answer a dozen trivia questions, and you’re rich. No years of medical school, no years of working late at the office, no years of sacrificing and saving and investing. Just ten minutes sitting across from Regis and – boom! – instant wealth. Now I’m not knocking game shows or saying that Regis is evil [although he does sort of resemble the devil in those dark, monochrome suits]. But we should ask ourselves why these shows are so popular. It’s the appeal of having wealth without having to earn it. It’s the appeal of breaking that link between work and reward [John Houseman commercial: “At Smith Barney, we make money the old-fashioned way. We earn it.” They don’t run that commercial anymore. Why? People don’t want to invest for the long term. They don’t want to “earn” a good return on their money. They want to take a flyer on some “dot-com” stock that’s going to quadruple their money in two weeks.]
Now, while you may be able to acquire wealth without labor, or reverse the consequences of overeating, there’s at least one area of life where the law of sowing and reaping always applies. And that’s in our spiritual life. Our character, our relationship with God, our relationships with one another, these are ruled by the law of sowing and reaping. It’s part of the moral fabric of the universe. This law can’t be overturned by drinking vinegar; it can’t be repealed by a winning lottery ticket. It holds fast. And so the way of wisdom is not to war against it, but to understand it and live by it and benefit from it. Ignoring the law of sowing and reaping only leads to sorrow and regret. What we need to do is respond to it in a way that’s spiritually healthy and pleasing to God.
“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 (NIV)
What’s Paul’s first point? “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked.” Some people today are mocking God. Not explicitly – they’re not glaring up at the sky, laughing at God, taunting Him, daring Him to strike them down. But they are mocking Him implicitly, by the way they’re living; by disregarding His claims on their life. Ignoring God, ignoring His law, ignoring His Son Jesus Christ. Living however they please, with no thought or concern about God. They think they’re beating the system. They think they’re “gettting away with it.” They think that as long as they’re clever enough to cover their tracks, as long as they can avoid discovery and exposure, as long as no one finds out, then they can do whatever they want.