I recall the time when my daughter was assigned a science project. We called around for some ideas on what to do. We decided that we would try to prove whether or not a nail could be protected from rust. On a particular day, we coated one nail with paint, dipped another in engine oil and sprayed a third with WD-40. The fourth nail we left unprotected. We hung these nails on a piece of string and placed them outside for about ten days. During this time, we had all types of weather. Finally, on the tenth day, we went out to see the results. The unprotected nail had of course rusted. The one sprayed with WD-40 only had a small amount of rust. The other two had no signs of rust.
For this project to be truly scientific, it must be repeatable. In other words, if you performed the experiment the same way we did under the same conditions, you should get the same results. Science has to do with cause and effect and with repeatable situations. It concerns the laws of nature and how they operate. The universe itself operates according to these rules. If it did not, science would not exist.
Paul also speaks of cause and effect in these verses. He gives one of the great moral absolutes of the world. What we sow we will reap. This is true in the physical aspect and the spiritual. How does this matter of sowing and reaping fit into our lives today?
I. SOWING IS IMPORTANT
Paul tells us not to be deceived because God is not mocked. What we sow we will reap, and what we want to sow are things that are good. Deceived means to lead astray. Paul was in part calling on the Galatians not to be led astray by such people as the Judaizers. They tried to trick the Galatian Christians into believing that they had to obey the Mosaic ceremonies and laws of the Old Testament for salvation. Paul said it was only through the grace of Jesus Christ and our faith in him that salvation came. There is nothing we can add to the free grace of Jesus.
We deceive ourselves if we think there is some other way to come to God than by Jesus Christ. We deceive ourselves if we think we can sin as Christians and get away with it. Through our sowing of what is good, we prove ourselves to be children of God. James wrote; “Prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude yourselves.” (1:22)
When people try to come to God some other way, it mocks the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When Christians live in sin despite their forgiveness, it mocks God. Mocked carries the idea of turning our noses up at something as if to scorn or sneer. Believers are not exempt from this law of sowing and reaping. To live as if we are mocks God.
It is very important that the child of God sow what is good in their own personal lives and in the world they live in. The Bible says; “Those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.” (Job 4:8) On the other hand, those who sow good harvest good. We must follow the example of Jesus who sowed perfect righteousness and reaped eternal life. Through faith in him, we can do the same. When we sow faith in Jesus, we will never have to worry about reaping the consequences of our sin because Jesus paid for them. We will still have heartaches, sorrows, shame and wounds in this life, but when we sow faith in Christ we will reap eternal life. When we sow sin, God plants that feeling of guilt in us to point us back to the right way.
Believers should strive to sow good. Paul reminds us that while we have opportunity we should do good to all people, especially for our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith. Opportunity refers to the total opportunity we have during our earthly existence. We must work effectively and diligently to take every opportunity to sow for God's glory. The good that Paul speaks of is the moral and spiritual excellence that comes as a fruit of the Spirit. This good we speak with our mouths and perform with our hands. One of the best means to demonstrate the truth of our Christianity is to do good for others. This is also the best way to make others sit up and notice the genuiness of our faith. The Bible says; “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach.” (Titus 2:7)
It is important that we sow good to those who do not know Christ as Savior, but it is also vital that we sow good to those of the faith. How much we love other Christians is the acid test of how much we love God. The Bible reminds us; “We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love those of the faith.” (I John 3:14) Again; “If someone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (I John 4:20)
How important it is to sow good even from the earliest years of life. A person's character is formed very early in life. Allowing a child to have his own way will result in an adult that expects the same. Let us take every opportunity we have to sow good in this world.
II. VAIN PURSUITS WILL FAIL
Paul reminds us that the one who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption. The Christian has only two fields to sow in, the flesh or the Spirit. As previously mentioned, the flesh refers to the residence of sin that still resides in the believer. We are given power over it by God through the new nature he gives. However, we are all still subject to and do fall into sin periodically. If we sow to the flesh by pandering to the evil desires of it, we will reap the consequences. If we do not allow the Spirit of God to subdue these desires, this is exactly what will happen.
The particular sin Paul addresses was the sin of legalism as proposed to the Galatians by the Judaizers. Many of them were placing human works above the grace of God in Christ. They were turning back to their own resources and power.
The result is and was corruption. This refers to degeneration or going from better to worse. It was sometime used of decaying food. When a believer chooses to sin or sow to the flesh, corruption will result. We will lose the effectiveness of our testimony and fail to show forth the fruits of the Spirit that draw others to Christ.
John R. W. Stott, the British evangelical leader, wrote; “Every time we allow our mind to harbor a grudge, nurse a grievance, entertain an impure fancy, wallow in self-pity, we are sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious influence we know we cannot resist, every time we lie in bed when we ought to be up and praying, every time we read pornographic literature, every time we take a risk that strains our self-control we are sowing, sowing, sowing, to the flesh.”
All vain pursuits of sowing to the flesh will end in failure.
III. SPIRITUAL PURSUITS WILL LEAD TO SUCCESS
The opposite of fleshly pursuits is spiritual pursuits. The results are also very different. The one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life. When we occupy ourselves with the things of God, we will produce the fruits of the Spirit in our life. We will also walk and live by the Spirit. We will abide in Christ and walk in him. We will do as the Bible instructs us to in giving our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice that is acceptable to God.
The product of spiritual pursuits is eternal life. This we receive as soon as we trust Christ as our Savior. This eternal life does not take away the warring battle that takes place on a daily basis, but it does point to a time when the battle will cease.
IV. ENCOURAGEMENT IS NEEDED
Sometimes it is easy to lose heart or become discouraged when doing good. Often, we are not rewarded by others for doing good. Paul reminds us that in due time we will reap our reward if we do not grow weary.
Serving the Lord does not take away problems, frustrations and even persecution for our faith. Paul was certainly evidence of that. Sometimes it may seem that we serve the Lord but see little evidence of the Lord's blessings. I am sure you have known Christians who served the Lord faithfully only to have a life filled with burdens. Sometimes the reaping is not immediate. The Puritan saint John Brown wrote; “Many Christians are like children; they would sow and reap the same day.”
Paul warns us not to grow weary or lose heart. We should not allow ourselves to get exhausted and give up. This is why it is so important that we encourage one another. The writer of Hebrews sets forth the example of Jesus in this matter. He wrote; “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” (12:3)
We must not be spiritually lazy. Not only must we talk about serving the Lord but we must also truly do it. Since it is so easy to get discouraged when we see little result of our work, we must encourage one another in the faith. In due time, we shall reap. We will receive our eternal blessing and reward.
Paul said; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (II Timothy 4:7)
Let us encourage one another to sow in abundance and to sow what is good.
Ernest Hemingway was a great writer, but he was famous for snubbing his nose at morality and at God. He said his own life proved a person could do anything they wanted without paying the consequences. He considered the ideas of the Bible to be antiquated and outdated. They were useless to modern man. They were a hindrance to pleasure and self-fulfillment. Moral laws were a religious superstition that had no relevance. In a mocking parody of the Lord's Prayer, he wrote; “Our nada (Spanish for nothing) who art in nada.” However, the end of his life proved the folly of mocking God. His life of debauchery led him into such complete despair and hopelessness that he took a gun and put a bullet in his head.
Whatever a person sows, they will also reap. Let us remember that sowing what is good is very important. We must sow to the Spirit realizing that sowing to the flesh is very damaging. Knowing how disheartened we can get in our effort to do good, let us always encourage each other in the faith.