|Series Theme: Meditations in Galatians|
Meditation No. 32
Meditation Title: Reaping what you sow
Gal 6:7,8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
There are occasions in Scripture, when I find a verse or verses that almost make the hair on the back of my head stand up. These are two such verses. Again, before we look at them in detail, let's consider how they come in the flow of Paul's thinking. We need to understand that everything here in chapter 6 flows on directly from what has been said in chapter 5. Back in chapter 5 Paul contrasted Spirit life and ‘flesh' or ‘old nature' life and his implication, even if not quite spoken out, is that these Jewish believers were leading the Galatians backwards and so they will fall back into their old ways. So he has had this idea in the back of his mind, about them going back to self-centred and thus ungodly and unrighteous ways which is why he now brings this further warning – and it is a serious warning!
His opening in these two verses initially sounds quite serious but the more you think about it the more you realise that it is an oblique approach to the warning. “Do not be deceived” sounds serious in that it sounds like a warning against deception but actually that is not the thrust of what he wants to say. Yes it is about deception but the main issue is the result of being deceived, what will happen. When he says “God cannot be mocked” he means you can't turn your back on God and think you can get away with it. This is in fact one of the sharpest warnings in the Bible and of course, is one that is largely disregarded by unbelievers. The fact of the matter is though, that God says “You will not get away with it!” and that comes as a powerful challenge to that deception that so many have and the temptation that so many give way to, that indeed, it will be all right, and I will get away with it.
The increased use of speed cameras in the U.K. is a good example of this. We motorists think we can get away with it and therefore we exceed the speed limit. It is only when we think we will get caught on the camera that we slow down, but our natural tendency is to think we can get away with it and therefore we ignore the law. The same thing is true in life and in respect of our behaviour towards God. The only thing is that His eyes are better than all the speed cameras of the world for He sees everything.
But it is worse than Him just seeing our lawbreaking. These verses suggest that He has built into life a law that says we will suffer for our wrong doing. I say that on the basis of Paul's analogy – “A man reaps what he sows.” Our wrong doing is like seed being sown and therefore it will produce a harvest that comes back on us. There may be times when God does specifically act in response to our wrong doing, but much of the time, it is simply built into the way life is. So gluttony produces obesity, adultery causes hurt and hurt produces bitterness which breeds revenge; there are a whole series of fruits from it. Sexual promiscuity produces a harvest of Sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, often followed by abortions and those followed by guilt and shame. Again a whole series of fruits! And those fruits are destructive. We could go on and on giving similar illustrations.
That is what Paul goes on to say: “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction.” If you give yourself over to allowing your old sinful nature to predominate, then that old nature will be the cause of your destruction. But what applies for the ‘flesh' also applies to the Spirit-led life: “the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” If you allow the Holy Spirit sway in your life, then His life, His eternal life, will be yours as well. Flesh or Spirit, destruction or life, those are the options. Please also note that they are mutually exclusive; we've seen that already. You can't be flesh-led and Spirit-led. Flesh or self-orientated old sinful life rejects the leading of the Spirit to pander to self. When we are led by the Spirit, He leads us away from sin into holiness and righteousness. Don't ever fool yourself that you can be pleasing the old self and pleasing the Spirit at the same time. You can be aware that the Spirit is leading you and that self-awareness is not wrong.
What is wrong is the goal you have in mind. If it is to please only you then it is almost certain to be missing the mark and will not be what God is desiring for you. What is ironic is that self looks to its own benefit, but when you are given over to God and to being led by the Spirit, He actually makes sure you get far more benefit than if you were working for your self. God desires our blessing and our fulfilment far more than we do, and the great thing is that he knows what will be best for us and will bless us most and fulfil us most. We have ambitions and hopes and desires, but actually they are always less than God wants to bring to us, because we don't believe life can be that good! That is the truth, but whether you can cope with that may be another story. We hope you can!