In our series on Discipleship we have been looking at the pictures the apostle Paul presents on what it looks like to follow Jesus. The big picture has been to walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Giving your life to the ways and teachings of God is what will be life transforming and give you success over sin and joy in life. Paul has helped us look at our works and our fruit to see if we are walking by the Spirit or are still of the flesh. These pictures continue in chapter 6 as Paul continues to have us examine ourselves. For our lesson today about what it looks like to be a disciple, he starts by giving us an important life truth.
Life Truth (6:7)
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Galatians 6:7 ESV). Make no mistake about this life truth. What you sow, you will reap. God has made life where this is going to be true. We even understand this in our physical world. You never reap something different than what you planted. My grandmother used to have a wonderful vegetable garden in her backyard. She was able to go around the garden and explain everything she planted and how those plants were doing. There was never a time when I saw her that we looked at her vegetable garden and she told us that she was reaping something that she did not plant. She did not plant tomatoes and get corn. The plant was always want she had planted. When you drive out to the Glades, those farmers do not plant sugar cane and harvest green beans. What you plant is what you will harvest. God is not mocked in your life. You are not going to get a different outcome than what you are sowing.
Reaping Options (6:8)
So Paul now explains what this life truth means in regards to walking by the Spirit. Look at verse 8.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8 ESV)
The first picture is that Paul wants us to see that we are all sowing to something. We are sowing to the our own flesh or we are sowing to the Spirit. To put this another way, every action and every decision is a sowing. Think about every action you take and every word you say as a seed that is being planted somewhere. What you say and do determines where the seed is planted. It is either something that is for our own flesh and desires or for the Spirit’s will and desires. So we are planting to our own flesh or to God with everything we choose to do. Life really does boil down to this option: do what you want or what God wants. Decide to please the flesh or decide to please God. Everything either is a serving of God or a serving of self.
But the second picture reveals what is at stake. If we sow to our own flesh, we will reap corruption. If we sow to the Spirit, then from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. Our choices in life are very meaningful because there is an outcome to our decisions. Sometimes we can think of so many of our choices as inconsequential. But Paul is telling us that your choices are as meaningful as planting seeds in the ground. If you sow to your own flesh and desires, there is an outcome: reaping corruption and destruction. If you sow to the Spirit (walk by the Spirit), there is another outcome: reaping eternal life.
Now please bring in the life truth that we learn from verse 7. You reap what you sow. We cannot think that we will be able to sow to our flesh, do what we want, and live for ourselves and then have the harvest of eternal life. Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. You are going to get back what you planted. If you are planting to yourself, to your desires, to your wants, to your way of life, and to this world, you will not reap eternal life. You planted the wrong things. The only thing we can possibly reap is corruption. Just as planting corn means that the one thing we can reap is corn, so also planting corruption (sinfulness and selfishness) means that the one thing we can reap is corruption.
But there is something hopeful about verse 8 also. If you walk by the Spirit, that is, plant to the Spirit and seek God’s desires, then there is only one outcome: eternal life. You cannot reap something different. You cannot give your life to God and deny yourself and still reap corruption. The life truth works this direction in hope as well. Deny yourself and following the will of the Spirit and you must reap eternal life. You will reap what you sow.
So we need to stop and consider our lives for a moment. Every action is a seed being planted. Please look at your life right now and consider if you have been sowing to your own flesh and desires or if you have been sowing to God and his desires. What does it look like in your life? Only you can know the answer to this. We can cast a few seeds on Sunday so that we appear to be sowing to the Spirit. But only you know what you are sowing every day. Only you can know what to expect from your sowing. You know what is coming for you. God is not mocked. You will reap what you sow. That is can be wonderful news or that can be terrible news.
Sowing To The Spirit (6:9-10)
Now Paul brings us to his application that he wants us to consider. Paul wants to encourage us to walk by the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh. Look at verses 9-10 and notice the picture he gives to us.
Do not grow weary in doing good because at the proper time we will reap if we do not give up. Knowing that there will be a reaping at the right time, then do not give up. Do not grow weary in doing good. Do not get tired of sacrificing your desires and walking by the Spirit. Do not get tired of doing the right thing as God defines it. It easy to get tired of doing good. The harvest seems so far away. The desires of the flesh can press so strongly against our will. We are tempted to give up and give in. Paul tells us not to do that. You will sow what you reap. So do not get tired of doing good so that you will reap the harvest of eternal life at the right time.
Further, in verse 10 Paul tells us to take advantage of our opportunities to do good. As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially those who are in the family of faith. Doing good to everyone is sowing to the Spirit. Doing good for people is one of the ways we are not sowing to the flesh but sowing to the Spirit. This is how we lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven. Look to do good for others and especially for one another. Please notice that we are called to do good, not only to the household of faith, but to all people. Please notice that we are called to do good to all people, even if they do not agree with you. Do for them what you would wish that they would do for you.
Our mentality is supposed to be the giving of ourselves. Sadly, what I have seen Christians do is take teachings like this and, rather than thinking about how they can give, they determine that they should expect others to give to them. This teaching is not here so that we will sit back and expect other people to do good for us. We should never expect, assume, or demand someone do something for us because that person is a Christian. The thinking that because someone is a Christian means that I have the right to expect you to do something for me is sinful. This is sowing to the flesh. This is thinking about ourselves rather than the will of God. The right mind is that I am not going to expect, assume, or demand something for you because I have the mind of Christ and I am going to think about you. In short, doing good for all is supposed to come from within us, not from others demanding it of us.
Disciples of Jesus are planting the seeds of goodness, sowing to the Spirit, because we know we will reap what we sow. We look to do good to all people because we want to reap the harvest of eternal life. So we do not slander. We are not malicious. We are not envious. We do not speak ill of others. We are looking to do good to all. However, if we sow to our flesh then we will reap corruption. What you are sowing is what you are going to reap. God is not mocked. You know what your outcome will be. So do not grow weary in your walk with God. Do not become discouraged. Do not get tired of the journey. You will reap what you sow.