Do we really reap what we sow? And how much of a formula is it?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation.
I don’t know much about farming.
I grew up in a small town, but in the city limits.
My closest experience to living on a farm was when every year, my family would go down to Albert Lea for a few days.
My parents had a friend there who lived on a hobby farm.
He had a few animals and such, but the main attraction of his farm was the town pumpkin patch.
Often, we’d go down in October, stay for a day or two, and pick out the best pumpkins you’d ever seen.
That is until I made mine look worthless with my terrible carving skills.
But a few times, we went down in the Spring to help plant the pumpkins with our friend.
And lest you think I make my stories up…I brought pictures:
There I am helping water the seeds.
(Show PUMPKINPATCH2) …leave up for 15 seconds or so
“And I got to see as a young kid…that what would over the course of the spring and summer…result in amazing pumpkins…started as just small seeds.
And I got to hear them talk about “how much they should sow this year?” (how much should they plant)
Because they’re going to reap what they sow.
As much as they plant, will come up…
But do they want that much to come up? Can they sell that much? Etc.
And it was a valuable lesson. Because it’s a lesson that isn’t just for farmers.
It’s for our lives. It’s for everyday living.
And the Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, is going to help us see that in the Bible today.
For much of 2013, we’ve been studying the book of Galatians together as a church.
A book written by Paul to an area of new churches in the early days of Christianity.
Much of the first 4 chapters are very theological about how we get right with God.
But the last 2, tend to be quite practical.
And we’ll see that again today as we start chapter 6.
Let’s dive into our passage today.
(Galatians 6:1-10) – NIV
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
For those of you who have house groups this week, we’re going to focus on the first half of this passage a little bit more there.
This morning though, I want to focus on the latter half.
In verse 7 Paul says, “Do not be deceived.”
Whenever you see that in the Bible, listen up.
Because it’s probably an area that all of us have a tendency to believe that we’re right…when we’re actually wrong.
So what’s that area??
(Galatians 6:7) – NIV
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
See, the idea of reaping and sowing is pretty basic in nature:
If I sow 5 pumpkin seeds in the ground in the spring, I’m going to get (reap)…10 apples. No...5 pumpkins. You reap what you sow.
But it’s not so obvious when it comes to our character.
Especially when dealing with the negative side.
See, the deception is this:
Often…we sin, we rebel, we gossip, we get jealous, we live in bitterness, we don’t forgive, we act out the lusts of the flesh…you name it…
And what happens?
Well at least at first…
See, sin is very illusionary. We did a whole series on this back in April.
We think, “Huh…I’m sinning right now…and nothing’s even happening. All that stuff in the Bible about the dangers of sin must be stuff pastors make up to keep people in line. What a lie. I’m not reaping any kind of bad consequences for my sin.”
And some say… “God must not even really care that I’m doing this…or he’s too busy to pay attention…”
So, we go on sinning…cutting corners…and doing what we feel like.
Yet…the harvest for sin…reaping time…is almost always delayed.
Think of Lance Armstrong for example.
Probably felt pretty good winning all of those Tour De France’s even though he was cheating.
Probably doesn’t feel so good now.
Even if justice for our sin doesn’t come in this life…there is an afterlife. There is judgment.
See…Our character…is just the harvest of what we’ve been sowing the past 10 years or 25 years of 60 years.
You reap what you sow.
But we “mock God” as Paul writes when we make ourselves into the exception to the rule.
When we say…It’s no big deal…I’m just looking at the woman…I’m not cheating…I’m not even looking at porn. Just enjoying the view.
But guess what 30 years of “enjoying the view” turns into?
It turns into an ugly harvest of adultery.
Sure…it was nothing the first time…but after the 500th time…you had become someone different.
We say, “I’m just talking about her…I didn’t say it to her face…I didn’t do it…she did it…I’m just telling my friend that it was “unwise” of her”
But guess what 20 years of always having to “debrief” with your friends about what every one else is doing turns into?
No one will tell you anything anymore. Cuz they don’t trust you.
People will stop becoming close friends w/ you, cuz they’ll start to wonder if that’s what you say about THEM once they leave.
We reap what we sow.
And we can sow from two buckets of seeds
(Galatians 6:8) – NIV
8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life
This is what we talked about last week.
You can either grow the rotten fruit of the flesh (that’s us left to our own devices without God…our sin nature)
Or you can grow fruit from the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, self-control).
And we grow that from being in the Spirit.
From spending time with God…every day.
But just like it takes time for the harvest of sin to appear…it takes time for fruit to appear.
I mentioned that as I closed last week.
Even in vineyards, it’s not until year 4 that they even harvest the grapes. Year 7 or 8 till they drink the wine. Year 15 until they make a profit.
It takes TIME!
But that’s not the world we live in.
We live in a world that has no sense of delayed gratification.
We think that if we can’t get it now…and how we want it…it can’t be good…and it’s not worth getting!
But most of the best things in life take time.
If you have kids…or you’re thinking about having kids…teach them about delayed gratification. It will serve them well in life.
Tell them…If you work at this every day chore for 4 weeks, and do it faithfully…we’ll take you a Timberwolves game…(not the Vikings…that’s punishment not reward)
Or we’ll take you to a horse farm and you can ride a horse…whatever they want to do.
But teach them about patience…and hard work…and delayed rewards.
All the things they’re going to need A LOT of in life, but society will rarely teach them about.
“So if it takes so much time for the harvest… If it takes time for sin to actually damage your character? If it takes time for before you can reap the fruit of the harvest from sowing good…
Let me ask you a question.
In the meantime…in the now…what are you currently sowing?
Cuz right now…you’re, for the most part (of course it’s more complicated, and we’ll talk about that), but for the most part, you’re reaping what you sowed over the pat 5-10 years maybe.
So, what are you sowing now?
And by the way…there isn’t much of an option to sow nothing.
Like we talked about last week.
You’re either sowing out of the flesh (our sinful nature) or out of the Spirit of God.
There’s no in between.
There’s no…”Meh…I’m not doing much.”
“I don’t get into much trouble…don’t offend people…I just stay out of the way and sit at home and watch TV…Not good…not bad”
Except that’s not true. Cuz then you’d be sowing laziness…sloth…passivity…maybe even gluttony as you scoop out huge chunks of ice cream and watch the “The Walking Dead” at home by yourself…staying out of the way
What are you sowing?
Think of your days like seeds. Seeds that will one day become tall trees.
What’s going to become of how you spent your last month?
What kind of tree are you planting?
In fact, I dare you to do something this week. Some of you need to take me up on this.
Get out a piece of paper, or start a new document or spreadsheet on your computer.
And for one week, document what you do in your free time by every 15 minutes or half-hour.
Like from 7-11 every week night…or whenever you have it. On the weekends, etc.
And then look at the results after 7 days.
“Huh, I spent 3 hours watching reruns of the Simpsons this week. Worthwhile”
“I spent 4 hours this week…on my phone…playing candy crush and deer hunter
“I spent 6 HOURS on facebook. 6 hours! I’m planting a facebook tree with my life. I’m going to turn into facebook”
I read an article on ESPN.com this week about 24 hours after I wrote this part of the message down, and throughout the whole article…I sat there like this (mouth open)
It was written by John Harbaugh, coach of the NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens
In the wake of some young coaches having health scares, he details one week of his life…minute-by-minute for ESPN.
It starts with 5:50am - Monday – Wake up on office couch.
And then you watch as each day as he works 17-hour days…watching game tape…meeting with coaches…etc.
And then sleeps at the office because he, “doesn’t have the time to waste to drive home and back…except for just a few nights a week so he can see his wife…and even then…not till 10 or 11”
And…it’s great for a Baltimore Ravens fans…they won the super bowl…but is it great for Harbaugh’s life?
I wonder what he thought after he wrote it all down.
Huh…I gave 119 hours to football this week and saw my 10 year old daughter a grand total of 4 hours.
What will you reap with that?
See, I want to dare you to do this w/ your week…because I think most people never take the time to look at what they’re sowing in their life.
And most of us, as Americans are sowing ourselves into our work.
Many others are sowing themselves into a harvest of Zombies.
You might as well be on the walking dead.
Our obsession w/ screen time is unreal.
And it’s going to lead to a harvest of apathy, lust, and just a general lack of character because you’re never actually taking action to BUILD your character into anything.
For some of you the best character you get out of watching TV is when you watch Sesame street w/ your 3 year old.
BY the way, if you do this, audit your week, email me about it, I’d love to hear about it.
But what if you spent 15 minutes a day reading the Bible?
Doesn’t sound like much.
But you can probably read 3 chapters in 15 minutes (they’re short)
If you read 3 chapters a day…you can just about read the Bible in a year.
What if you read the Bible 60 times before you died?
What do you think that would do to your character?
Most Christians haven’t even read it once.
But what if YOU did?
And notice…all that took was small seeds. 15 minutes
And by the way, even if you say “I don’t read,” which I meet a lot of men who say that.
I think GENERALLY, that’s a lie nowadays.
Because I bet you read ESPN.com. I bet you read about your favorite sports team. Or about a project you’re working on.
I bet when it comes to learning a new workout program, you read about it first. Or your health. Or diet.
Or twitter. Or facebook. Do you have the computer read it to you? I bet you read!
Or all of those articles people put on facebook that you can’t help yourself from clicking on.
“7 ways to not get caught speeding” – Don’t mind if I do! (click!)
#1: Don’t speed.
So some of the best practical advice I can give you this morning is to audit your week.
Like a good farmer, take the time to study what you’re actually putting in the ground.
IT’S A PRINCIPLE…NOT A FORMULA
But before we get carried away here….I have to say this about sowing and reaping.
It is a principle. It is not a formula.
Look at verse 9 again.
(Galatians 6:9) – NIV
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
What I love about this verse is that Paul rights “for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest.”
The NLT says “at just the right time”
In other words, if you keep honoring God and living for Him…the goodness will come in your life.
Your character will change.
As you give out kindness to others…you will see kindness paid back
But God doesn’t give you a formula.
He doesn’t tell you how. Or even when.
Because if He did, then our focus, our goal, would be to get to that…rather than be with Him.
God wants you to be with Him.
He wants us to stick close to Him…and trust Him…not just seek a prize. He wants a relationship.
But this is not an exact formula.
This is why verse 9 is really important. If we just had verses 7 and 8…we might start thinking it was a formula
“if I read my Bible everyday…then God will reward me w/ the perfect spouse!”
“If I give 15% to the church…then I will get a new car every 2 years!”
This is where get garbage like the prosperity gospel that turns God into some sort of vending machine based on a formula.
But there is no formula.
And I would go as far as saying…you could probably even see this in the sowing and reaping principle…if we knew more about framing.
I read this recently in a leadership journal, and I thought it was really good.
A man who had spent most of his life in the city was talking to his father-in-law who had spent his entire life farming.
While they were discussing the differences between city living and farming, the old farmer noted:
"Most city folks I know expect each year to be better than the last," he said. "They think it's normal to get an annual raise, to earn more this year than you did last year…
but as a farmer, I have good years and bad years. It all depends on rain at the right time, dry days for harvest, and no damaging storms. Some years we have more; some years we have less."
And the author of the article notes that it hit him: This was the real “law of the harvest.” Some years are good. Some not as much. But we KEEP SOWING. Keep sowing good.
And this harvest principle is the same in life.
Growing in spiritual maturity requires gratefully accepting the “seasons of more” AND the “seasons of less”
And trusting, that it’s not a formula, but you can trust God’s promise…that when the time is right…if you keep sowing good…you keep resting in the vine…resting in God…the harvest will come.
If not here…then in eternal life…which is much greater anyway
DON’T LOSE HEART
So verse nine tells us, don’t become weary…even if you don’t see instant results. Keep sowing good.
Verse 10 makes a similar point
(Galatians 6:10) – NIV
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Don’t lose heart in it. Keep trusting in God’s goodness. Keep pressing into Him…
Keep sowing good. It will come.
But it’s SO easy to lose a heart.
That view of the mountains that was maybe breathtaking to you on the first day of vacation is maybe just “meh” by the last day.
As John Piper says, “Vacationers get tired of sunsets, millionaires get tired of money, kids gets tired of toys, and Christians get tired of doing good.”
But don’t become wary of serving God in the little things.
In how you treat your coworkers. Your boss.
In how you love your spouse…your kids.
Many of you have little kids.
Our nursery has exploded in the last year with babies.
And if you’re a mom or a dad of young children, it’s easy to think that playing peekaboo or playing legos or barbies is pretty insignificant compared to the rest of your day.
But it’s not.
You’re shaping the very fabric of their character.
After all, their character, is just a summation of a million little interactions…most of them with you.
The harvest is reaped over time. And every little bit of good you sow… counts.
Are you familiar with the legacy of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards?
Jonathan Edwards is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest American theologian of all-time.
You maybe learned about him when you studied the great awakening of the 1700’s in high school history.
But, history has shown his wife also to be an incredible woman, and in particular, a simply incredible mother.
In fact, in 1900, there was a study done of their descendants, and this is what they found:
100 of their descendants became lawyers (1 even a dean of a law school)
80 of them were holders of public office
66 doctors (and a dean of a medical school)
65 professors at colleges or universities
13 college presidents
3 mayors of large cities
3 governors of states
1 controller of the U.S. treasury
and 1 Vice President of the United States.
And over 100 of their descendants become overseas missionaries!
Impressive. But these people didn’t become judges, deans, and missionaries overnight.
Their character was sown into them over time. At 3 years old. At 10. At 15.
We cannot become weary in doing God’s work. In sharing the Gospel. In serving others. Even in just loving and serving our kids like God would love them.
Even if they just threw-up their baby mac & cheese all over you.
It’s a moment to model grace.
You know what’s interesting to me about the fruit of the Edwards family and the Bible…is that God doesn’t even promise that the harvest will come in our lifetime.
But we still should sow good.
But trust in God’s promises. Don’t lose heart.
So as Paul says, “as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people”
“You mean do good to the person who makes everyone mad at work?? Yeah.
Forgive the person who didn’t even apologize? Yeah.
Pray for people you hate? Yeah.
Do good to ALL people.
That’s the fruit of the Spirit. Patience. Goodness. Love.
And God tells us that...in time…we will reap a harvest in return.
But there is one more religious and cultural confusion we must clear up:
This thought of: “if you do good…good will come back to you in time..
“If you sow evil…you will reap destruction…
You know what that sounds a whole lot like?
What goes around, comes around.
“What goes around comes around…
It’s a pretty popular sentiment in our culture.
Even though it’s actually deeply rooted in the theology of Eastern Religions.
But we love to wish it on those who do wrong to us…
“Well, what goes around comes around…you just wait your turn!
But the Biblical principle of sowing & reaping is not the same as Karma.
In fact, it’s far from it.
For one, Karma is part of the reason that there is so much poverty and devastation in many of the poverty-stricken countries in the East.
Because people can say…”Oh, they’re homeless, they’re begging for food…well, it must be because of some past sin they committed. What goes around comes around.”
But that’s far from the Christian ethics of Jesus: “Which says…love your neighbor…(even your enemy)…as yourself”
And Karma is a “locked-in-system” in Eastern religion. Especially in Hinduism.
If you’ve sinned, then the forces of the divine will bring retribution to you.
And while Paul is painting a general picture…a basic reality here…saying, “If you just live in your flesh…you’re going to bring destruction on yourself…and if you live in God…fruit will come”
He is…in his letter to the Galatians…saying something vastly different than Hinduism…or much of what our secular culture says.
Because Paul has said in Galatians 2:16 (and in 40 different ways elsewhere in the letter:
(Galatians 2:16) – NIV
know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
We’re not ultimately made right by just sowing enough good over time.
This is the gist of our whole series. We are not justified…forgiven…made right with God by doing good enough (the law)…but instead by forgiveness in Christ.
It’s not a reward (or a punishment) it’s a gift.
And in most of the world’s religions…if you have sinned:
If you committed adultery, you got divorced, you got drunk about 50 times too many, you stole, you went to prison, you name it…
In most religions, Then you need to spend the rest of your life trying to do enough good to make up for it (it’s like Karma…it’s basic spiritual cause and effect)
But the Bible is much wiser and real God, is much more compassionate than that.
The Bible admits, that yes, basic cause and effect is still true.
That’s why it still warns against sin…avoid it. It’ll hurt…and hurt bad.
But See…the God of the Bible is so different.
Because…even though you may have committed adultery…been divorced…stolen from your neighbor…hurt someone…cheated at work…you name it.
God still sent his son to the cross for you anyway.
See, you could have a list of sins …a document of papers piled up to the sky of all the wrongs you’ve committed…
But God…through his son Jesus…wants to put the entire stack in a paper shredder and erase them all.
When we believe that Jesus died for us…for our sins…to take the punishment for OUR sins…in our place.
And we put our trust in Him…and accept that forgiveness…
We can be forgiven of everything.
Through a relationship with this amazing God.
And I tell you, that is so much greater than any system of “What goes around comes around.”
I don’t want anything to do with that. Cuz if that’s true…I’m in trouble.
I’m glad we worship a God that even though I’ve got a lot coming around to me…He’ll still step in front of it…and take it for me on the cross…because He loves us that much.
Thank you WISDOM of your WORD.
And that is so deep and so ture.
May we build our trust in your timing. Trust that harvest is indeed coming.
Build within us the character of faithfulness and trust.
And God…thank you…that even when we create sin a mile high…that you were willing to step in front of the “oncoming train of punishment” for us…
Thank you for dying for us.
And showing us your love.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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