SOWING AND REAPING
I've never been much of a farmer. I was born with a black thumb and tend to kill any plants that I touch. Between my wife and I, we have even managed to kill artificial plants and that takes real skill. But my grandfather lived on a farm and I did learn a few things about farming from him. Some of those lessons come home to roost in this passage.
The universe operates according to certain natural laws. Science involves the observation and the stud of these laws, be they biology, geography, physics or chemistry. These laws are consistent. Out universe is dominated by them. The reason that we have an organized and consistent universe is because the Builder is organized and consistent.
These laws are universal. They do not care whether you believe in them or not. If you do a swan dive off a 20-story building, it does not matter that you do not believe in the law of gravity. It will still be operational as you pass the 10th story.
Ignoring God's laws can be disastrous. I speak from experience. I have spent some time in my line of work hanging from ropes a number of stories off the ground. One cannot merely ignore the law of gravity. It is equally dangerous when one tries to ignore any of God's spiritual laws.
A SPECIFIC APPLICATION
The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him. (Galatians 6:6).
In the previous verses, Paul has been talking about the importance of bearing one another's burdens. Now we move from bearing burdens to sharing blessings. What is taught in this verse is a practical outworking of Paul's teaching on bearing one another's burdens.
Bear one another's burdens
The one who receives spiritual help is to share in all good things
What a man sows, this he will also reap
We must be careful to read this in the context of the burden-bearing passage of the previous verses. Paul has been dealing with the problem of one who has fallen into sin. Such a one is to be restored. This work of restoration is to be done by those who are spiritual. It is they who have the obligation to bear one another's burdens.
Here is the point. The one who has fallen and who is now in need of restoration is to share in all of the good things enjoyed by the one who teaches him.
The principle here also has application to the remuneration of ministers of the gospel. Paul is not saying this as a fund-raising tactic. He is not out to line his pockets with money. It was often his custom to support himself and others in ministry through his skill in the tent-making business (Acts 18:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8). But this custom is in no way binding upon all ministers of the gospel. Paul teaches here that the minister who ministers the Word of God to others is to be the recipient of all good things. What are these things? They include such necessities as a salary and a manner and means of support for a family.
At the same time, the emphasis here is not upon payment for services rendered. Such thinking would view the pastor as merely an employee of men. Instead we are given a picture of two groups of people ministering to each other.
The teacher of the Word is sharing the Word and the one who receives that ministry is likewise sharing all good things.
THE PRINCIPLE BEHIND THE PRACTICE
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
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 6:7-8).
Paul begins this section with a warning. The warning is that you not be deceived. When you give a negative command in Greek, you can utilize one of two tenses.
A command to STOP doing an action already begun
"STOP JUDGING lest you be judged." (Matthew 7:1).
Jesus said to her, "STOP CLINGING to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father..." (John 20:17).
A command or warning against doing a thing not yet begun
And they said to one another, "Let us NOT TEAR it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be..." (John 19:24).
The phrase translated, "Be not deceived" is in the present imperative. It is a command to STOP being deceived. The point is that the Galatians had been continually deceiving themselves as to the realities of sowing and reaping. Paul has already described some of that deception in Galatians 3:1-5.
In his book Down to Earth, John Lawrence sets forth a number of principles drawn from this passage. They are based upon the principles of sowing and reaping.
1. You Sow what you Reap: Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap (6:7).
Louis Pasteur was the scientist credited with proving that there is no such thing as spontaneous generation. Nothing comes into existence in and of itself. Every effect has a corresponding cause. This is a law of nature that has been written by the Creator of the universe.
Nothing comes without effort. This is true in the physical world as well as it is true in the spiritual world. Even your salvation does not come without effort. It took the greatest effort in the universe to save you. It took the death of God's own Son to bring about your salvation.
This is an important corollary to the law of sowing and reaping. God can sow on our behalf. He can expend effort for us. He did that in order to bring about our salvation. He continues to do it to bring about our growth.
This is important for you to know. It is related to the way you look at your Christian life. It is related to the way you view your family. It is related to the manner in which you look at your employment.
With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
God has made you a promise. It is a promise that the good you do will be rewarded. It is a promise that you will reap the good things that you sow.
2. You Reap the Same in Kind as what you Sowed.
Let's say that you are a farmer. You get up in the morning and you go out to your cornfield. The reason it is a cornfield is because you planted corn there. That corn has been growing. You would not be too surprised to find the absence of a field of apples. The only way you can find apple trees is to first plant apple seeds.
This is a basic law of nature. It is an integral part of God's creation. The principle was repeated over and over in the creation account.
Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them"; and it was so.
The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11-12).
This same principle was seen, not only in the realm of plants and seeds, but also in the animal kingdom.
Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so.
God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:24-25).
This same principle extends into the human realm. When Paula and I had a child, that child was not a lizard or a monkey or a giraffe. We had a child that was after our kind.
The same principle is seen in the realm of regeneration. Jesus made this observation when He spoke with Nicodemus.
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6).
When a natural person gives birth, she gives birth to another natural person. It takes the Spirit of God to give birth to a spiritual person. This means that you cannot be born again through your own self-effort.
There is a principle here. Paul stated it in verse 8: 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 (6:8).
Paul has already set forth a contrast between the flesh and the Spirit in the previous chapter. He warned us to walk in the Spirit that we might not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Now the contrast continues:
The one who sows to his own flesh
The one who sows to the Spirit
Reaps eternal life
Deeds of the flesh
Walking in the Spirit
The Galatians were being told to live the Christian life through law-keeping. This is tantamount to sowing in the flesh. The result leads to corruption and death. The death in their case involved a separation from the joy of their salvation. Rather than enjoy spiritual growth, there was a putrid stagnation.
But when a Christian sows to the Spirit, he enjoys all of the benefits of his eternal life. That tells me something about eternal life. It is more than merely a life that lasts a long time. It is also a kind of life. It is a quality of life. It is a life that produces the fruit of the Spirit.
3. You Reap more that what you Sow.
Farmers would go out of business if this were not so. A farmer does not plant a watermelon in order to harvest another watermelon. He plants a single seed in order to harvest a wealth of fruit.
But he always reaps more than what he sowed. The same is true in life. It is true for the Christian and it is true for the non-Christian.
"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life." (Matthew 19:29).
The price of discipleship is great. There is toil and sacrifice involved. But the reward of discipleship is much greater.
4. You Reap in Proportion to what you Sow.
This principle seems to be in contradiction to the previous one, but it is not. It states that you reap in proportion to what you sow. If you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly. If you sow bountifully, you will also reap bountifully.
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Notice that this law operates both negatively and positively. It operates for those who only sow a little and it also operates for those who sow a lot.
5. You Reap in a Different Season than when you Sowed.
When a farmer goes out and plants his seed in the ground, he does not plan on coming out the very next day to partake of the harvest. He knows that there must first be a long period of growth. Several months will pass before the season of harvest will arrive. During this time of waiting, there is always the temptation to believe that the harvest will not come to pass.
Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
God's judgment against sin is not immediate. He is patient. He is waiting for repentance. When you sin, a great bolt of lightning does not automatically come down to zap you. The time of judgment has not yet arrived. But one of these days the time of waiting will be over.
He was a traveling minister in the old west, making a circuit of a number of parishes along the way. One particular home at which he would stay was remembered for its particularly delicious meals. When dinner was over, the woman of the house would collect the dishes, but would advise him to save his fork.
"Save the fork," became a watchword, for it announced that there was a fabulous desert about the be served. He would hear her say, "Save the fork" and know that the best was yet to come. It is, you know. If you are one of His and if you are walking in His Spirit, then you have something wonderful to which to look forward. And the Lord whispers to you, no matter how good or how bad things are, "Save the fork."
AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO FOLLOW THE PRACTICE
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (Galatians 6:9-10).
Paul started off be stating the natural and universal laws of sowing and reaping. There is an implication of that law. Here it is. It is that endurance leads to harvest. Paul says that in due time we shall reap if we do not run out of gas.
Here is the reason that Paul has been relating the natural laws of sowing and reaping. His reason has been to encourage believers to continue in their Spiritual walk. Don't give up. There are good times ahead. Do you remember Jesus? He learned this same lesson.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We have an example of One who did not give up. We need to sharpen our focus upon Him. He is not only an example of One who pressed on toward the goal; He IS the goal. We need to sharpen our focus upon Him.
I did a little bit of running when I was in high school. I learned that when you run in a race, you do not look at the bleachers or at the clouds. You don't look behind you to see how the other runners are doing. You only look in one direction. You look ahead. You look toward the goal. The danger is that it is possible to run the race for a time and then to fall by the wayside and lose the race. You cannot coast on yesterday's victories.
But another important lesson in running is that the race only goes to the one who finishes. No one ever won a prize for the fastest start. This speaks of the quality of ENDURANCE.
Endurance. It is the stuff that mothers are made of when their children are sick. It is seen in the missionaries who work for years in a foreign land with little visible result. It is that quality that keeps good employees coming to work on time every day, ready to put forth their best effort even though it might not be noticed of even appreciated by the boss.
Paul says that we need to endure in doing good. We need to keep on doing good, even when we are not noticed. We need to keep on doing good, even when we don't feel like it. We need to keep on doing good, even when we are discouraged.
Chuck Swindol once said, "The hardest thing about daily living is that it is so DAILY." There is a lot of truth to that. It is easy to be a sprinter. But a long distance runner takes a lot of work. If you want to win the race of life, you need to keep on keeping on.