May 17: Sowing and Reaping (it’s not as simple as it sounds).

Galatians 6:8. 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. 

One of the problems with law is that it causes us to think we can live by a strict cause-effect system. This of course goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when we chose a religious system of good and evil to guide us, rather than the very life of God himself. And so we were left trying to manage our lives by knowing good and evil. IF we do good, THEN we will be blessed. And IF we do evil, THEN we will be cursed. If-Then. Cause-Effect.

The Mosaic law was no different. God used this same system of life management through good and evil to reveal both his holiness, and our need for grace. What the Old Testament law taught us is that no one can live within this kind of a system. We all fail at managing our own life. We all deserve the curse, because we all do evil early and often. A strict cause-effect system, devoid of grace, will destroy us all.

There’s another really big problem with trying to live by this kind of cause-effect system- it never holds up. Those that do good suffer curses. And those who do evil get blessings. You’ve probably witnessed or experienced this in your own life.

Asaph wrestles with the prosperity of the wicked in Psalm 73:3 – For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

And Job wrestles with the cursing of the righteous in, well the whole book. Also look at David in the wilderness, Ruth, Paul, and of course Jesus. These were all people who suffered despite being “good.” The cause – effect system did not always work in their life.

When we talk about the Bible and God’s big story we can break it up into three “Acts:” Act 1) Creation, Act 2) Fall, Act 3) Redemption. This is the story line of God. Of scripture. Of your life.

Act 1) Creation tells us that the cause-effect pattern works. You reap what you sow. Good principles bring good results. Think: the book of Proverbs.

Act 2) The Fall tells us that the cause-effect pattern is terribly broken. Sometimes you reap what you didn’t sow, or you don’t reap what you did sow. Life seems meaningless. Think: Ecclesiastes.

Act 3) Redemption tells us that one day every pattern will be restored. You will once again reap what you sow because there will be no sin, or chaos, or evil to stop it. Christ’s love will win and restore everything to its proper system: good rewarded and evil destroyed. Think: Song of Songs.

OK, what does this have to do with Galatians 6:8?

Galatians 6:8 is redemption. It is pattern restored. It is cause-effect back in place inside of us.

Here’s why Galatians 6:8 is so important to understand. When everything in the natural world is falling apart and the cause-effect system is failing left and right, we can know that in the spiritual world the pattern still holds because of the redemptive life of Christ inside of us. We have a new life system that replaces the law. The cause-effect pattern of the law will either destroy you or it will fail you because of the Fall. But the life of the Spirit will never destroy you and it will never fail you. IF YOU SOW TO THE SPIRIT, YOU WILL REAP FROM THE SPIRIT ETERNAL LIFE, EVERY TIME! If you sow love, you will reap love. If you sow joy, you will reap joy. If you sow peace, you will reap peace. Faith is rewarded. Receiving grace does bring growth. Beholding Christ does transform us. Always! Every time this spiritual pattern holds.

Oh, and if you sow to the flesh…corruption. Every time.

Now the pattern is restored in us spiritually, but it has not yet been restored physically. If you are counting on your good behavior or adherence to Christian principles to change your situation, status, experiences, health, spouse, kids, friends, boss, well there are no guarantees that those things will change. But what is guaranteed is that this kind of “sowing to the flesh” might just actually destroy you on the inside, like all law keeping does.

Here’s the paradox. “To live is Christ” is to give up control. The cause- effect system is all about gaining and keeping control of your own life. That’s why we run back to the law. It’s why we choose principles over the person of Jesus. But giving up control is “sowing to the Spirit,” and this sowing will reap eternal life – which IS Jesus! You will be like him. You will gain control by losing control. You will gain life by losing it. Now that’s a pattern that we can all live with.

Where do you see yourself trying to live from a fleshly sowing and reaping (control)? Where can you see spiritual sowing and reaping in your life? Are you sowing Christ into your life? Other’s lives? What might that look like?

Bonus song: a little Tears for Fears on sowing and reaping.

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