Summary: -Sowing to the flesh means being self-absorbed, living according to our sinful/fallen nature. -Sowing to the Spirit means living for God, abiding in our regenerate nature. Which nature wins? The one we feed the most.
Introduction: A comedian said, “Why am I always getting blamed for things I do?” In this passage, Paul reminds us: choices have consequences. This is a fixed law of human nature. “Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”
The theme of Galatians is that we’re free to live for Christ. Freedom is not self-indulgence or self-sufficiency. It is a freedom where we rely on God to liberate us to live without limitations, sharing our giftedness with others.
Take God seriously, verse 7a:
Paul warns “God cannot be mocked” (7). No one makes a fool of Him. The word “mocked” means to “turn up the nose at,” to snub someone. We “mock” God by ignoring Him, by living like He’s distant, uninterested in what we do. We mock Him by acting as though we won’t have to answer for our behavior. Mocking God is showing contempt for His word, His church, His people. It is self-deception and moral indifference to think we can do whatever we wish with no accountability. If you sow “wild oats” don’t expect to reap a harvest of holiness. There will be a day of reckoning. Many people are “practical atheists”; they live like there’s no God, but death will be a rude awakening.
Scripture is clear: our deeds do not save us. We’re saved by God’s grace, but we’re saved to do good works. If there are no indicators of genuine faith, we’re just playing games. James cautions: “Faith without works is dead” (2:26). What good is it to profess faith and not practice it? So what is distinctively Christian about our conduct? Good works make faith visible. Anything less is pretense--a false faith. Genuine faith is a faith that works! We mock God by viewing Him as a kindly, senile old grandfather who overlooks everything, who doesn’t care how we live. Let’s get serious with God. How we conduct our lives matters--now and for eternity.
Living for self / living for God, verses 7b-8:
There are two ways to sow…
-Sowing to the flesh means being self-absorbed, living according to our sinful/fallen nature.
-Sowing to the Spirit means living for God, abiding in our regenerate nature.
These two natures are at war. As I’ve said before, the one that wins is the one we feed the most. We’ve been given new life in Christ, but like the impatient Israelites headed for the Promised Land, we sometimes want to go back to Egypt, back to our former life.
Sowing seeds of sin yields “corruption”, decay, a “crop of weeds” (the Message). Every time we harbor a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fantasy, or wallow in self-pity, we are sowing to the flesh (Stott), and we’ll reap a bitter harvest of self-destruction. If we sow seeds of dishonesty, they will grow into broken relationships. The prophet Hosea warned, “Sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (8:7). Self-trust is self-serving; it is “striving after wind” (Eccl. 1:17). It’s not enough to regret the past. Regret without change leads to more regret.
Sowing the Spirit means living for God’s pleasure, striving for purity of thought and action. Every time we think, say, or do something for God’s praise, we’re sowing to please His Spirit. We will reap a sense of fulfillment, and few regrets when we conclude our earthly journey. This kind of seed-sowing involves doing God’s will. Have we sought to do God’s will, or our own? If we were honest, we’d admit that at times we pray, “My will be done.” Let’s be careful; God might just say: “OK, have it your way…see if you like it!”
A Rich Harvest, verse 9:
We talk of a “heavenly reward,” but Heaven begins now. “The pay begins in this life” (St Teresa of Avila). By living as King’s kids, we reap a satisfying life right now. “Not all the benefits of eternal life are deferred” (Ryken). The Holy Spirit gives us the joy of our salvation and the hope of resurrection. He enables us to live effectively as disciples of Christ. Jesus promises in Revelation 22:12: “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Decide what crop, what outcome you want, and plant accordingly.
But let’s not grow discouraged when we don’t see the desired results. God’s in control and He knows what He’s doing. In “due season” we’ll reap. If you don’t see the results now, persevere and be assured you will in the life-to-come. Bear in mind--the seed planted doesn’t bear fruit immediately. The Lord of the harvest is in charge, not the planters. He has reasons for the delays in our lives. What we see as a setback may well be an opening for something better. The unexplained hardships we experience will one day be made clear. God has a purpose for everything. Let’s trust Him. Followers of Christ reap joy, a clear conscience, contentment…because the focus isn’t on us, but on what God is doing. By trusting God and serving others we reap a harvest of goodness, and ultimately one of eternal life.