Sowing and Reaping, Planting and Harvesting

Do you garden? We sure enjoy it. At our home we have enjoyed a beautiful variety of produce, from actual fruits and vegetables to the flowers and trees. It’s such an incredible blessing to harvest and eat what you’ve been working so hard on all year long. We’ve harvested tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, pears, zucchini, pumpkins, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, grapes, spinach, beets, carrots, and more. We love it! The work that goes into gardening is not easy and it’s not for the lazy or faint of heart. For that matter, some folks simply don’t enjoy the kind of work that involves digging in the wet muddy soil in a light rain at the spring planting, or working under a sweltering sun in the summer pulling weeds whose roots seem a mile deep. But at our house, we survive long white winters looking toward that springtime tilling and planting.

It seems Paul knew a bit about gardening, at least of the kind that we do in our spiritual lives. He offers some instruction to the church in Galatia:

    6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
    7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
    8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
    9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
    10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
    ~ Galatians 6:6-10

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
~ Galatians 6:6

Let’s start with verse 6. “Let him who is taught the word…” is talking about those believers that sit under the teaching of a local pastor in their local church every week.
“Share in all good things with him who teaches” means we need to support our teachers, our pastors. All good things certainly means we need to support them financially, but we need to also share other good blessings that have been given to us. Talk to God about what that means to you. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in how you can share with your pastor. Keep in mind that your church probably has several or even many pastors – this can mean the worship leader, the children’s ministry leader, the women’s pastor, and so on.

Now we get to start gardening!

It’s spring, and we get to plant! First, let’s talk “sowing and reaping”. In our garden, we love planting by seed when we can rather than buying live plants at the nursery and planting those. Pumpkin seeds and and sunflower seeds are two of our absolute favorites. We also fertilize our soil in the spring using horse manure and goat manure. Now the horse and the goats eat out in our pasture every day much of the year, and they eat whatever they find – including different grasses, dandelions, thistles – they eat virtually every plant out there. When we use that manure in our garden, the seeds from those plants have often survived the digestive process so that along with our sunflowers and our pumpkins we are also planting weeds.

Later as plants start sprouting, guess what comes up? Pumpkins, sunflowers, grasses, thistles, and dandelions! The same is true in our lives.

The psalmist talks about this:

Also to You, O Lord, belongs mercy; For You render to each one according to his work.
~ Psalm 62:12

Or let’s say we make fun of that kid in school or that guy at work? We are sowing more weeds. What happens when we need a favor from that person? We have sowed/planted weeds in our life, and what comes out as a result (the reaping) is weeds. That’s the harvest that we’re reaping.

Or it can be so much more severe too. Let’s say we cheat on something at work, and lose our job. Sowing and reaping.

But this can go the other direction too! What if my wife and I planted the pumpkins and sunflowers after fertilizing with a mixture that had been cleansed of the seeds? We would reap the blessings of bounty without all the weeds!

So if we listen to music and watch movies that glorify God, when we stub our toe on that table leg we’re more likely to say a little prayer. (:-)

Or when we see that person that drives us crazy at work or school and instead of making fun of them we ask them how we can pray for their life? When we need that favor, maybe we’ll harvest a blessing.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. ~ Galatians 6:7

Paul is saying: Don’t be fooled, don’t kid yourself, don’t misunderstand, and don’t think you can get away with it! How would God be “mocked” in our sowing?

There was a time in our life where my wife and I met fairly regularly with a local group of other married couples (believers) for a time of games and fellowship. On this particular occasion they had a get-together and my wife couldn’t attend because she was ill, so I went by myself. The evening ended with a two-person game proposed by another guy where he and I would play against each other. I had no idea at the time, but the game was purely a joke on me, and the whole idea was that while we “played” against each other, everyone else circled around us and watched. The entire group watched as I was fooled by this game over, and over, and over. In the beginning, they were laughing hard and found it funny. As it continued, the laughter started to die down a little and I think some folks were embarrassed for me. In the end, I found out it was a prank, laughed it off, and went home a little more humble.

You see, this group all knew of the prank being pulled. They knew it was a lie, and they knew I was being mocked. That’s what we do with God sometimes. When we “sow to the flesh” we are doing something we know we shouldn’t, and we think we’re getting away with it. We believe that God doesn’t know or God doesn’t care. Or perhaps we think that, since we are forgiven Christians, God won’t allow any consequences. So we “mock” God. (HA! I got away with it and no one knows!)

Paul is saying “don’t kid yourself, God is not to be fooled.” You are not tricking God. He knows full well what you’re doing. And when we go down a path of sin, we will see that the path ends with a bad consequence. If we plant weeds in our garden, we will reap many more weeds.

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. ~ Galatians 6:8

In Galatians 6:8, Paul reveals how this sowing and reaping can lead to eternal death or eternal life.

If we spend our life sowing to the flesh and never surrender our lives to God, accepting His free gift of salvation, we won’t see heaven. Instead, we’ll spend eternity apart from God in a terrible place called hell. It’s our choice to make.

The Lord also teaches us this lesson in the Old Testament:

    15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil,
    16 “in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.
    17 “But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them,
    18 “I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.
    19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
    20 “that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
    ~ Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Within the lesson of reaping and sowing, it’s so important to remember God’s heart for us which is one of mercy and grace!

Mercy can be defined as NOT giving us the punishment we deserve. That’s why Jesus died for you and for me, to take that punishment of death for us.

    Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. ~ Micah 7:18

Grace can be defined as giving us a gift, one that we don’t deserve. When we accept Christ’s atoning death for us, it comes with a free gift – the gift of eternal life with Him.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

My wife writes a beautiful blog and she’s explained it this way:

“Our God is abounding in lovingkindness and compassion! He desires to spare us from the consequences we face because of our sin. He gives us chance after chance after chance.

Look at the example given here of Pharaoh and the Egyptian people:

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh, and say to him, “Thus says the LORD God of the Hebrews: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me, for at this time I will send all My plagues to your very heart, and on your servants and on your people, that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth. Now if I had stretched out My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth. As yet you exalt yourself against My people in that you will not let them go. Behold, tomorrow about this time I will cause very heavy hail to rain down, such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now. Therefore send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home; and they shall die.’ ” ‘ He who feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses. But he who did not regard the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field.” ~ Exodus 9:13-21

Therefore send now and gather your people and animals from the fields. God gave Pharaoh advance warning, so that none of the animals or people would die from the coming hail. And “He who feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses. But he who did not regard the word of the LORD left his servants and his livestock in the field.”

Our pastor has been teaching through the book of Exodus on Friday nights, and I was struck by this passage and by what he had to say on it. We get needlessly pounded when we don’t heed, believe, and act on God’s word. Needlessly pounded.” (From “Another Chance” by This One Will Be Our Peace.

God gave Pharaoh chance after chance after chance after chance – through 10 different plagues as a matter of fact. (See Exodus 7-12) Each time, Pharaoh continued to harden his heart against God. In the end, after 10 horrible plagues, he finally allowed the Hebrews to leave Egypt. Then in one final act of defiance, Pharaoh gathered his army and chased after them to his own demise.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. ~Galatians 6:9

Finally, Paul tells us not to weary “while doing good”. Have you ever felt exhausted from being “the good guy” that does the right thing? The curveballs of life that get thrown at us are meant to discourage us, and don’t they do a good job? Wow, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been discouraged! I felt like I was doing what God was asking and yet it seemed to be to my own detriment. I can lose heart and grow weary as much or more than anyone. But Paul tells us that “in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”. That means we need to wait for God’s timing! Just continue to hang on in faith – do not lose heart!

    But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
    ~ 1 Corinthians 15:57-58
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