What holds all of these verses together at the end of Galatians is the theme of “sowing and reaping.” Verse 7 makes this theme pretty clear…
7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap,
The principle of sowing and reaping is of course from the world of agriculture. Farmers know very well that you can’t plant apples and expect to harvest oranges. Sowing apple seed will only get you apples.
Paul emphasizes at least two things about sowing and reaping in verse 7.
First, sin always bears bad fruit. Bad seed never bears joy and life. And, second, the consequences of sin cannot be delayed forever. “Whatever a person sows he will also reap.”
God will not be mocked. A person might live his life thinking he’s getting away with something but he won’t. God may be patient, but rest assured you will reap what you sow. You can’t get away with it.
So don’t be deceived. Many people live their lives thinking their poor decisions won’t catch up with them. It might be poor health decisions, or even more importantly it might be poor spiritual decisions, but don’t fool yourself, you will reap what you sow.
That’s the principle, now the application. First let’s look at…
Sowing and Reaping in teaching the Word (verse 6)
6 Let the one who is taught the word share all his good things with the teacher.
There is a reaping and sowing principle at play in ministry.
The teacher sows the word and those that are taught sow back what they reap.
The teacher benefits, you benefit. There is a mutual sharing. There is a mutual sowing and reaping.
The Greek word for “taught” is from “ketecheo” the word for catechism. A catechism is a summary of Christian doctrine in a question and answer format.
Paul’s point isn’t about the form catechism takes but that all Christians need to be formally taught the word by a teacher. Even teachers have teachers.
Obviously, the teacher must be sowing what is true. The Galatians had been listening to teachers who sowed bad seed and it had bad consequences so the teacher has a responsibility to teach what is true.
But those that are being taught must must sow to the teacher lest the teacher be unable to continue teaching.
The phrase “All his good things” might mean more than financial support but I don’t see how it means less. The person being taught shouldn’t have a “freeloader” attitude thinking they have no obligation to help support the teacher.
The implication of this verse is that “Teaching” is a fellowship activity. It is not a one-sided give and take. It is a mutual sharing, or sowing, it’s a partnership and we reap what we sow.
If a minister doesn’t catechize his congregation or teach sound doctrine the people aren’t going to reap a good harvest.
Likewise, if the congregation doesn’t fully support the teacher, the teacher won’t benefit and neither will the congregation, at least not for long.
So, verse 6 is a warning for both the teacher and those being taught. The teacher shouldn’t expect to reap anything good if he doesn’t teach the word and those being taught shouldn’t expect the teaching to last if they aren’t willing to share their blessings with the teacher.
We reap what we sow.
Second, let’s look at…
Sowing and Reaping in Personal Holiness (verse 8)
8 …the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.
This verse teaches us a very important, but often neglected, lesson. The lesson is: we are not helpless to become more holy. Instead, what we become depends largely upon what we do.
Galatians 5 taught that we have to “walk by the Sprit and now, in chapter 6, we learn that we must also sow seed.
There’s an old saying that reads,
“Sow a thought, reap an act; sow an act, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” —author unknown
I don’t know who said it, but it’s solid biblical truth that sowing starts with what we think. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Our thoughts turn into actions which lead to habits, then to character that lasts eternally.
So we can either sow thoughts of the flesh or thoughts of the Spirit.
Sowing to the flesh is what happens when we allow ourselves to think bad thoughts, to entertain lustful activities, to wallow in self-pity, etc. If you are sowing to the flesh your shouldn’t be surprised by your lack of holiness.
You reap what you sow.
Sowing to the Spirit, however, is the same as what Paul calls setting your mind on the Spirt. Romans 8:6 says,
“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (ESV).
The books we read, the movies we watch, and how we spend our leisure time can either be good or bad. Daily prayer, devotions, and worship with God’s people on Sunday are all ways to sow to the Sprit but when we neglect these things we usually replace them with things that feed the flesh.
Too many movies that dull our senses, too much news that causes worry, hanging around with those that encourage us to doubt God are all ways we feed the flesh.
If we don’t sow the things of the Sprit we should not expect a harvest of the Spirit but if we do we can be confident we will grow in personal holiness.
Next, Paul moves to…
Sowing and Reaping with Others (verse 9-10)
9 Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.
Doing good to others can be tiring so Paul encourages us to hang in there. Be encouraged because you will reap a harvest. There will be a wonderful result but we must be patient.
Don’t be like the child who plants a seed, waters it, and expects to see it start growing all in the same day. Instead be patient, knowing that all your sowing in the lives of others will show fruit at the proper time if we don’t give up.
What exactly the harvest will be Paul doesn’t say. The harvest may be seeing someone come to salvation. It may be seeing someone overcome addiction. It may be seeing your children succeed.
But it also may be a reward you don’t fully see until Christ returns. Right now we aren’t sure exactly what the harvest will be, but there will be a harvest eventually so hang in there.
Verse 10 helps us understand the type of good to others we are to be doing.
10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.
Christianity isn’t about meetings and programs, it is primarily about working for the good of all. When the opportunity presents itself, then, do good for the person nearest you. When there is a need, fill it.
The phrase “work for the good of all” implies that Christianity is more than just evangelizing. It includes sharing the words of the gospel but doing good is also about living out the gospel.
It means helping others whenever it is within our ability to do so.
But lest we become overwhelmed, Paul adds a qualifier. He says do good, “especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” See, we aren’t obligated to serve every last person, only those that God gives opportunity to help.
The principle is that we start with those closest to us and work out from there. We shouldn’t be doing good to others at the expense of those closest to us. No one can minister to those closest to you like you can.
Do good to others, especially to the household of faith, especially to other believers.
For the Galatians, that meant the church in Galatia, for the Corinthians that meant the church in Corinth. For us it especially means doing good for the church in Kittredge.
We are to show love to all, even to our enemies, but if we aren’t showing love to the household of faith where God has planted us we need to backup and start there. Otherwise, we will either get burned out or the needs of the church will go unmet.
We talk about wanting to see a harvest in Kittredge and the Evergreen area. We pray for it but what seeds are we actually sowing?
Paul’s message to us today is a warning…
Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap.
I’d like to conclude by reading a story…
“Good morning,” said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on ground.
The man slowly looked up.
This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life.
His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before. “Leave me alone,” he growled….
To his amazement, the woman continued standing.
She was smiling — her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows. “Are you hungry?” she asked.
“No,” he answered sarcastically. “I’ve just come from dining with the president. Now go away.”
The woman’s smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.
“What are you doing, lady?” the man asked angrily. I said to leave me alone.
Just then a policeman came up. “Is there any problem, ma’am?” he asked.
“No problem here, officer,” the woman answered. “I’m just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?”
The officer scratched his head. “That’s old Jack. He’s been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?”
“See that cafeteria over there?” she asked. “I’m going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile.”
“Are you crazy, lady?” the homeless man resisted. “I don’t want to go in there!” Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. “Let me go, officer. I didn’t do anything.”
“This is a good deal for you, Jack” the officer answered. “Don’t blow it.”
Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner.
The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. “What’s going on here, officer?” he asked. “What is all this, is this man in trouble?”
“This lady brought this man in here to be fed,” the policeman answered.
“Not in here!” the manager replied angrily. “Having a person like that here is bad for business.”
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. “See, lady. I told you so. Now if you’ll let me go. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.”
The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled…. “Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?”
“Of course I am,” the manager answered impatiently. “They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms.”
“And do you make a goodly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?”
“Yes, but what business is that of yours?”
I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company.”
The woman smiled again. “I thought that might make a difference.” She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. “Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?”
“No thanks, ma’am,” the officer replied. “I’m on duty.”
“Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?”
“Yes, mam. That would be very nice.”
The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, “I’ll get your coffee for you right away, officer.”
The officer watched him walk away. “You certainly put him in his place,” he said.
“That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this.”
She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently… “Jack, do you remember me?”
Old Jack searched her face with his old, watery eyes. “I think so — I mean you do look familiar.”
“I’m a little older perhaps,” she said. “Maybe I’ve even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry.”
“Ma’am?” the officer said questioningly. He couldn’t believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.
“I was just out of college,” the woman began. “I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn’t find anything. Finally, I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat.”
Jack lit up with a smile. “Now I remember,” he said. “I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy.”
“I know,” the woman continued. “Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble… Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right.”
“So you started your own business?” Old Jack said.
“I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered.” She opened her purse and pulled out a business card. “When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons…He’s the personnel director of my company. I’ll go talk to him now and I’m certain he’ll find something for you to do around the office.” She smiled. “I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet… If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you.”
There were tears in the old man’s eyes. “How can I ever thank you?” he said.
“Don’t thank me,” the woman answered. “To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus… He led me to you.”
Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways….
“Thank you for all your help, officer,” she said.
“On the contrary, Ms. Eddy,” he answered. “Thank you. I saw a something amazing today, something that I will never forget. And… And thank you for the coffee.”
You cannot escape the fact that God sees all, hears all, and knows all. When we sow a good deed, we will reap the same. Remember also… when you and I sow a bad deed, or fail to sow anything at all, we should expect to reap that as well!