The deception that sowing from the flesh does not cause a harvest of sin and death is commonly seen in the lives of people who are astonished when they awaken one day to see that sin has blossomed throughout their life.
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 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. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Good mornin’. If you don’t have a Bible, there’s one at the end of your row. Feel free to grab one, and you can take it with ya if you like. We’re in the book of Galatians. My name is Mark, the pastor here. Today is a short sermon, at least that’s what happened earlier in the day. We’ll see how it goes.
We’ve been goin’ through the book of Galatians. If you want to read ahead, the next book we’re gonna do – we’ll finish Galatians next week, then we’ll do Jonah, and then we’ll do Ephesians, starting in October, and we’ll do Psalms starting in January.
You guys liking Galatians, those of you that have been here? It’s a good book. It’s been good. I’ll pray, while you’re flippin’ to Galatians 6, and we will – we’ll get to work.
Father God, we thank you for a chance to get together this morning. I thank you for a place to meet and people to meet with. Thank you for Scripture to study, and thank you for your Holy Spirit, who is among us to do his work, as only He knows exactly what it is that we need.
God, we ask that this morning we would be able to understand the Scriptures, that through them we would fall more deeply in love with Jesus, and that we would be compelled to spend more time with Him, and as a result be transformed so that we could be more like Him. God, we do thank you for your good work. We thank you for your love, and we thank you for your presence, in Christ’s name, amen.
If you’ve been with us, we’ve been studying through Galatians. The book of Galatians is – in the first half of the book, it’s primarily what Christianity or what the Gospel is not. It’s not about morality, trying to be a good person. Good people still go to hell. There’s people in hell that are really surprised, ‘cause they never jaywalked, but they also didn’t love Jesus, so they missed the whole point.
It’s not about being moral. It’s not about tradition, committing yourself to a movement or a teacher or an ism or a way of doing things – at least on a human level, following human teachers and man-made traditions. It is also not about culture, being American, or being Jewish, or taking a culture and imposing it on other cultures. Christianity is really about Jesus.
That’s really the heart of the argument of Galatians, that Jesus is God, and that He has come to love us and save us, heal us, transform us, redeem us. And that as He loves us, we should love and trust Him back, and that’s the heart of the whole Christian life, that it really is about God and his people being in loving relationship, connected in such a way that his love transforms us, so that we are more like him. That’s the heart of Christianity.
And as we’ve gotten into it, we’ve looked at the fact that then God gives to us some different resources that are helpful in us growing in love with Him and likeness of him. That includes the teachings of Scripture, Galatians 6:6, that we need people who know the Bible and teach it well. Galatians 6:1-6 tells us that we should be in a good church, where they are helping us grow, where people who love us are correcting us when we’re astray and bringing us back and restoring us. That they help us distinguish between burdens and loads – loads being those light things in life that we need to just carry as mature adults, burdens being those very difficult circumstances in life that nearly crush us.
And we need loving help from those that love God and love us. He has told us as well that all of this gets done by the power of the Holy Spirit, which is back to Galatians 5. That God has placed His presence within us through the Holy Spirit, which empowers us so that we can bear forth a different kind of life that is marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.
Paul goes on this week, then, to talk about a basic principle that undergirds everything that he’s trying to teach us in Galatians, and it’s a basic principle of sowing and reaping. We all believe this; it’s a basic principle of botany. God has woven into creation certain truths that are just sort of self-evident. We see them; that’s the way it works. How many of you are gardeners, or farmers, or botanists, or you like to grow things? I don’t like that at all.
I dug up most of the shrubs out of my yard this week, ‘cause I don’t like trimmin’ them. I like grass.
But my daughter – my daughter is totally different. My daughter loves flowers. I have a five-year-old daughter who loves flowers, and so she has lots of pots, and she has all kinds of – I don’t know what you call ‘em – flower growing devices – big boxes filled with dirt, and she loves to grow flowers. And she has all these different kinds of seeds that she picks out and she plants and she waters and she waits. And she loves it when all of her flowers come up. And she has specific flowers that she likes.
It was just her birthday, so I bought her lots of flowers – that’s her big thing. I’m not as smart as my daughter, and I don’t understand all of botany, but the principle here is so basic, that even someone with my IQ can articulate it and understand it. That’s how nice God is. And that’s the basic principle of the sowing and reaping, that when you take a seed and you put it in the ground, it will grow and eventually some sort of harvest will come, and that harvest will correspond to the type of seed that you put in the ground. There’s a direct correlation.
So, if you put a pumpkin seed in the ground, you wait a while, what do you get? A pumpkin. See, we can do this.
You don’t get country and western music, or a BackStreet Boy, or a Camaro. You get a pumpkin, because you put a pumpkin seed in the ground. You don’t walk out and see something else. There’s a direct correlation. I was young, about three years of age, when this first made sense to me. Again, I wasn’t as smart as my daughter. I really wanted – we were very poor, and I wanted Campbell’s tomato soup, and we couldn’t afford much soup.
And so, to get more soup, I dug a hole in my mom’s garden and I buried soup, thinking, cause and effect, if you put a seed in the ground, then you get some sort of vegetable or fruit or flower, what it might be. I wanted soup, so I thought, “I’ll put cans of soup in the ground, and then I’ll get lots of soup.” Sowing/reaping, cause and effect. And this was in Spokane, and come to find that actually, a few days later, I’d go dig it up, and there would be more cans of soup than when I started. That I was actually reproducing and growing cans of Campbell tomato soup.
And it wasn’t until sometime later that my mom told me that, in fact, we had an old woman that lived next door. I called her “grandma.” She wasn’t my grandma, but I didn’t have a grandma nearby, so I kind of adopted her. And she would go out and she would dig up the garden, and she would put more cans of soup in there –
– to fool me. And I always thought – which was fine, ‘cause I ate the soup, so I was fine with that. And I always thought she was a really nice, jovial, sort of happy lady. And my mom actually told me recently that she was an alcoholic, and that she was always drunk.
But I still loved her because she – she caused sowing and reaping and tomato soup. Now again, I was stupid, but at least I understood correlations, sowing and reaping. Right? It’s still tomato soup. I’m still working in that category. It’s not pumpkin seed/Backstreet Boy, it’s pumpkin seed/pumpkin, and there’s a correlation.
And we know this in our world of physical things. When it comes to the spiritual, sometimes we don’t recognize this fact. And Paul reminds us of this fact with a stern warning, and I’ll read the section, Galatians 6:7-10. He says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.” Some people think they can mock God – they can’t.
“A man reaps what he sows.” There’s the sowing and reaping principle. “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. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if,” here’s a qualifier, “if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Here’s the basic principle, sowing and reaping, sowing and reaping. That’s where we’re going to be today. And what Paul is basically telling us is this. It’s as if your whole life, all your friends, your family, your school you attend, your marriage, your church, your neighborhood – whatever you’re involved in, wherever you may be, that there is a correlation of cause and effect there, that you are going there, and you’re sowing seed.
And that seed is really only one of two kinds. He says that there is a bucket filled with seed that is basically the flesh. In your NIV it says sinful nature. What he’s talking about there is sin. You’re putting your hand in a bucket, and you’re taking seed of sin, and you’re just scattering it wherever you go – in your marriage, your family, your home, your church, your neighborhood, wherever it might be.
There’s another bucket that’s filled with what he calls the Spirit. This seed is life and joy and holiness. This is the life that comes from God. This is the life that comes in rebellion against God, and that we have an opportunity by God’s grace to determine as Christians what bucket will we put our hands in, what seed will we take forth, and then what will be scattered. And he says, “Do not be deceived: God will not be mocked.”
“You reap what you sow. If you put your hand in sin and you sow it all over your life, you will reap death and destruction,” is what he says. “And if you put your hand in the bucket of the Spirit of God and of life and the things of God, and you sow that, you’ll harvest life,” is what he says. Ultimately, it is eternal life, which is both in quality and duration.
It’s a quality of life here that goes on forever without end, and that’s the life of God. Now, what tends to happen is, that some people fall into, or willingly go into, a place of deception. Paul says, “Don’t be deceived about this. Don’t kid yourself. Don’t fool yourself.” It’s a stern warning.
This issue of deception is whereby some people, even Christians, will think, “Well, if I sin and I sow sin, nothing will happen. If I sow rebellion or folly or wickedness,” or whatever word you want to use, “it won’t really matter.” It’s deception. And sometimes, people are able to live under that deception for a long time, because if you go out and sin, do you immediately see all the consequences? Does it bear the harvest? It doesn’t.
Because just like a seed, you put it in the ground, you have to wait a while before there’s a harvest. The same with sin. Sometimes you sow it, and you have to wait a while before all the effects show up. And he says, “Certain people will sin, nothing happens, and they say, ‘It doesn’t matter. God doesn’t care. God isn’t paying attention. There’s no cause and effect. There’s no sowing and reaping principle. This isn’t a big deal. I shouldn’t be worried about it. This isn’t a problem.’”
Paul says, “That’s deception. That’s deception.” In Revelation 12 we’re told that one of the names for Satan is that he is the great deceiver who leads the whole world astray. That’s what deception is. Deception is that you believe a lie; you totally confuse reality, and you think that sin is righteousness and righteousness is sin. You become absolutely convinced of the wrong thing, and then you’re led astray. You’re led away from God towards sin and rebellion and death.
And some people willingly go into this deception because they want to convince themselves that, “If I do this, it’s okay.” That’s deception. And I think what happens there is actually self-deception. I believe that not only is Satan the deceiver, I believe he’s also self-deceived.
You ask yourself, “Why does Satan keep fighting God, keep declaring war on God, when if you read the Bible, it’s clear that he loses, and that he will be conquered?” Is it just because he’s trying to take as many people with him as possible? Perhaps, but I also think that perhaps not only has he deceived everyone else, he may have deceived himself. Satan may actually believe that he is right and God is wrong, and that he will win and that God will lose.
If you’ve seen the end of the movie, The Devil’s Advocate, that’s Al Pacino’s great line at the end, that he’s the good guy and that God is the sinner. It’s absolute deception. And Paul says, “When we fall into this deception, what we think is, ‘Sowing sin will not reap death.’” And you see this in people’s lives, where they’re shocked when something happens that is tragic or catastrophic that they have created or caused.
I’ll give you an example. I got a call a little while ago. A woman called frantic. She said, “I’m a Christian. I have Christian kids. I have a Christian husband. We’ve been married for years. Everything was perfect, and he just called and told me he wants a divorce, he never wants to see me again, he’s not coming home from work.” She says, “I don’t know what happened. Just all of a sudden, everything changed.”
Go talk to him, say, “Well, what’s your side of it.” He says, “Every day since we’ve been married, I come home from work, I walk in the door, and she, first thing, just starts into me, nagging, yelling, biting.” He says, “It’s awful.” And he said, “It’s just –” and literally, what he’s explaining is, she just puts her hand in the bucket of sin, takes out nagging, and just throws it all over him, first thing, every day he walks in the door. And he said, “Now what’s happened is, it’s starting to spread. And my kids are doing the same thing that she is, ‘cause she does it in front of my kids.”
So, not only is she sowing her seed all over her husband, she’s sowing her seed all over her household of, “Let’s nag dad. Let’s just annoy him as much – let’s yell at him and boss him around. Let’s take away all of his dignity and strip him of his masculinity,” and then, “It’s okay, because he’s a Christian. He won’t get mad. He won’t leave. He won’t get sick of it. There’s no cause and effect. There’s no sowing and reaping.” She’s totally deceived.
And he said, “I’m just sick of it.” He said, “I work 60, 70, 80 hours a week. She stays home with the kids. I pay for private school. I pay all the bills. I love the kids. I love the Lord. I love my wife.” He said, “I just can’t handle it any more. I’m sick of it. I’m fed up. Every day I walk in the door, and just like a drill sergeant, she’s got a list of things that I didn’t do right that she wants me to do.”
I said, “Like what?” He said, “For a couple weeks, every time I walked in the door, it was that I hadn’t hung the towel up in the right place, or when I hung the towel up in the right place, I had not used it for three days before I put it in the hamper. I had used it for two days.” He said, “I just – I’m done. And so, then I walk in the door, and next thing I know, my daughter’s saying the same thing. And she’s six.” And he said, “It’s spreading. It’s everywhere.”
I ask her, “Well, what happened?” She says, “I have no idea. He just changed.” “No, he didn’t. The issue was for years, you’re sowing seed all over your household, and then one day he comes home, and it’s harvest time. And he says, ‘That’s it. I’m never coming home again. I’m done.’” Paul says that people who labor under this kind of thing, they’re totally deceived. They’re thinking that the way they live as they indulge their flesh and as they live forth folly and death, that nothing will happen. And Paul says, “You’re crazy. That’s not true.”
This is the person that says, “I don’t know how I got obese.” You were sowing gluttony. “I don’t know how I got in debt.” Well, you were sowing covetousness. “Well, I don’t know how I became an alcoholic.” You were sowing a lack of self-control. “Well, I don’t know how I got so lonely.” Well, you were sowing pride, or gossip, or bitterness, and so no one wanted to be with you. And the whole time you’re doing it, you’re thinking, “Well, this isn’t a big deal. Nothing’s happening. Everything’s the same.” And then all of a sudden, harvest comes, and everything dies. Your marriage dies. Your friendships die. Your church dies. They fire you from your job. Nobody wants to talk to ya. They don’t return your e-mails. They don’t return your phone calls, because you’ve just spread and sown death, and nobody wants to be near you.
When this happens to people, they’re shocked, because they had no anticipation of cause and effect, sowing and reaping, that they’re putting seeds in the ground and that some day, it’s going to bear some terrible fruit. I had it this week, too. I met with possibly the least pleasant woman in the history of the world.
I’m going to create an award for her or something. I’m gonna get her a medal. She’s the meanest woman. Paul talks about the works of the flesh – discord, anger, jealously, division, factions. This is her resume. She’s unbelievable. Every time I try and talk to this woman – you don’t know her. She doesn’t go to the church. I’m not talking about any of you. Don’t feel bad. It’s not personal.
All my good illustrations are sitting here, but I can’t use any of them because you know each other. So I’ll talk about someone else.
So, I’m talking to this woman, and every time I talk to her, it doesn’t matter what we’re talking about, she’ll turn it into something nasty. It’s an art form. I mean, it’s unbelievable. She comes in – I see it on her face. You could just see it. It’s just like seed is just exploding out of her head. You could just tell it by her facial expression; she’s upset about something.
And she’s not even near me yet, she’s a ways off, and it’s just – it’s just like literally – it’s almost like when I saw her, and I was reading this text that week – you know when you go out and you seed your lawn? You get one of those things you spin and it just throws seed all over? She’s coming at me, and she’s spinning and seed is just flying out of this woman. I could just see it. I’m like, “Oh, man.”
So, she comes, and I say, “How are you doin’?” “Not very good.” I’m like, “Oh! I shouldn’t have asked that question.” I’m trying to stay out of this mean, angry, nasty cul-de-sac. I’m trying to stay out of this thing with this woman. I said, “Well, how’s your summer goin’?” “Not very good.” And I go, “Okay, another cul-de-sac. I gotta get outta that.” I said, “You got any vacation comin’ up?” Mm, that’s nice – people like to talk about not working. I said, “You got any vacation?”
She said, “Yeah, I gotta vacation comin’ up, but I haven’t found the spot yet.” “Oh, great. Well, I know a good spot you could go for vacation.” I’m thinking, “I’ll be nice. We’ll see if this works. It’s never worked before; we’ll try again.”
I said, “I know a nice vacation spot. I found this nice spot, a little cabin on the lake. It’s real inexpensive. You can boat. You can fish. You can rest, build bonfires. It’s really nice. And I’m gonna take my family there for a couple days here at the end of the month at the end of the summer.” She says, “Oh, that sounds great.” I said, “Well, I’ll send you the information, that’d be great.” She says, “Okay, that’d be great.” She says, “So, why did you pick it.” I said, “Well, it’s been a busy year, and I just want a couple days to rest.” She says, “Well, I don’t know if I’d want to go there then.” And I said, “Why?” She says, “Well, I’m not lazy like you.”
I said, “I’m tryin’ to send you on vacation. I mean, be nice to me.” It’s like unbelievable. I mean, you just gotta be so nasty and sick. She’s just that way. And literally, there’s a number of people around, and she walks – and it’s like the Red Sea parts. Everybody just sort of does this. Like, “Okay, am I two arm lengths away? Yes.” She sits down and literally, everybody’s talking, and they spread out in a circle around her. No one is near her. I’m watchin’ this unfold, and it’s just like – yeah, she just – seed is flyin’ off the woman, and it’s just death. And no one wants to get near her. It’s just dangerous, just deadly. She is just mean, just nasty and rude, and foul.
And you say – she doesn’t understand – I’ve talked to her before. She doesn’t understand why people don’t return her phone calls. She doesn’t understand why all her old friends don’t come by any more, and the people she used to hang with don’t hang with her any more. She doesn’t understand why she gets fired from jobs. She doesn’t understand. She’s totally deceived. She thinks, “So, I can just be mean and nasty. And I’m mean and nasty, and then nothing happens.”
Well, it’s like a grenade. You pull the pin and you wait. It’s gonna blow, just wait. That’s sowing and reaping. Somebody throws a seed, and just because in the next 15 seconds nothing happens, it doesn’t mean that nothing is going to happen. Wait awhile, and then death creeps in. And she – she’s a woman who just literally – she just sows death. Anything she goes near, it just dies – her friendships, her family, her relationships. It’s just awful. No one wants to be near her.
But Paul says, “Don’t be deceived.” Don’t think that sowing death and sin and rebellion and anger and hatred and discord and jealousy leads to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It doesn’t. You throw this seed, you’ll never get this harvest. You just won’t. And the hard word is that we all do this. We all know this in principle, but there are parts of our life, where we like to deceive ourselves and say, “Here is an exception. Here is an exception.” Right?
And we like to make ourselves into that exception. And when we do that, Paul says we’re mocking God. We’re looking at God and basically saying, “You’re wrong; I’m right. You’re stupid; I’m wise. You’re lying; I’m a truth teller.” It’s just mocking God. When God is saying, “No,” literally. If you’re a single guy and you want a wife and you’re spending your time devoting your sexual energy into pornography and perversion, there will be a harvest. It will affect your marriage. It will affect your wife. It will affect your kids. It will affect your life. Don’t deceive yourself.
If you’re married, and you think that nagging and biting and devouring or gossiping about your spouse is going to lead to a fruitful, loving marriage, you’re deceived. Bitterness never leads to love. Gossip never leads to love. Nagging never leads to love. It leads to death. You’re gonna kill each other.
Parents who think, “Well, I won’t discipline my kids because they just – it’ll work out.” No, it won’t. Don’t be deceived. So Paul says what we need to do instead is by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to go over to this other bucket and put our hand in and say, “Okay, I’m gonna sow from here. And with my friends, my family, my church, my place of work, my fellow students – whatever is in my life, I’ll put my hand in here, and I’m gonna sow from here. I’m gonna sow love rather than anger. I’m gonna sow joy instead of whining and complaining. I’m gonna sow forgiveness instead of bitterness. I’m gonna sow patience instead of impatience. And I’m going to, by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, trust that God is not lying to me.”
Now, here’s the deal. It’s frustrating to be a Christian, because many of us want to harvest the same day that we sow. And so, what happens is, we anticipate that it’s not working. We’ve all said this in varying degrees and times, “Okay, I’ve read my Bible, didn’t work. I’ve prayed, didn’t work. Went to church, didn’t work. Tried to obey God, didn’t work. It’s not working.” Is it not working, or is it not time? See, the issue is, it’s just not time. It does work, but it’s not working yet.
And this is where Paul is going with this. It’s – people will do this all the time. You know? “I went to church every day once, and it didn’t work. You know?”
“I read my Bible every day for a whole three days, and it just didn’t work. I prayed both times, and it just didn’t – it didn’t work. It just doesn’t work.” And see, part of that is, we live in a world where patience, longsuffering is not a virtue. You and I, right now, if we were – if we have a phone or an Internet connection, I can’t think of anything we can’t get, from a spouse to an atomic warhead to a hot pizza, within 24 hours if we have enough money.
We live in a world that is absolutely built on there being no such thing as any delayed gratification or reward. Nothing. If you want something, you get it your way, right away. That’s the world we live in. And the Bible says, “Sow, wait, harvest eventually.” And the harvest may not be for a long time. You may have to say, “Well, I’m gonna love my neighbor as Christ loves ‘em, even though they’re a jerk, for the next 30 years, and then they’re gonna die, and then I’m gonna die, ‘cause we’re gonna kill each other. And then I’m gonna see Jesus, and if I have to wait ‘til then, that’ll be harvest time.”
We don’t live in that world. We live in a world where a husband loves his wife every day for a week, and it doesn’t work, and he gets rid of her. We live in a world where people read their Bible every day for a week, and it doesn’t work, and they get rid of their God. We live in a world where you try it for a few days, and if it gets hard, you give up, and you give in, and you walk away. And people who want to sin, and people who want to justify themselves, Paul says their greatest error is to be deceived. They’ll deceive themselves in thinking that it’s all fine and good.
The problem with people who do love God and do want to walk with God and do want to be close to Jesus, Paul says, is your greatest temptation is that you would get tired. He says, “You’ll grow weary.” You’ll get sick of it. One day, you’ll just throw your hands in the air and say, “I’ve tried. It’s just not working. I love Jesus. I’m single. I want to get married, and everybody’s getting married who is doing it wrong. I know people that are shacking up – they get married. I know people that are mean and rude to each other, and they get married. I give up. I’m tired.”
“I’m honest at the job, and then the guy who’s dishonest got a promotion, and now he’s my boss. I’m sick of it. It’s not working. I’m a parent. I discipline my kids every day. I teach ‘em. They’re still midget demons. It’s not working.”
It’s not working. Right? Wife says, “Every day I encourage and respect my husband. He’s still not very respectable. It’s not working.” The husband says, “I love my wife. Every day she’s still not very lovely. It’s not working.” All right? “I started tithing, and now I’m in debt, and I don’t have as much money as I – this isn’t working. I read my Bible, but it doesn’t seem to make any – it’s not working. It’s not working.” And we get frustrated. We throw our hands in the air. We say, “That’s it. I’m sick of it. I tried, failed. The God thing didn’t work. The Jesus thing didn’t work. I’m just sick of it. I’m tired.”
Or it worked for a while, and now it’s not working. Or it worked for a while, and it’s still working, but it’s just exhausting. Anyone been there? Anybody there? Right? I’m mean, it’s – we get into these places. Okay. I’m your pastor. Do I get there? Totally I get there. I get there. I get to the place where it’s like, “Is this working? Is this worth it? Am I just an idiot, pouring myself into an empty hole that is bottomless and will never fill? Is that my life? It just seems absolutely futile.”
I can still remember when we were starting the church. It was like – I remember one day, we were starting. I showed up early. I set up all the chairs, and then people came, and I handed them all the notes. And I taught, and then they all left, and then I put all the chairs away. And I was sitting there, and there was only like 11 of us. And one of ‘em was my wife. And she probably wouldn’t have been there unless she really loved me. You know? She’s there under sort of a pretense. She loves me, so she’s there to support me.
And I get done, and I feel like, “People just hated that because I stink. And they all left as quickly as they could. Is this going anywhere?” I mean, the Bible says, “Teach the Bible, pray, love the people and it’ll happen.” You look out and you say, “It just doesn’t look like it’s happening. The people are not very excited about this, and I kinda stink at it, and I’m sorta tired of doing this week after week.” Because the first week, we had like 40, when we very, very first started. The next week, we had like 35. Three weeks later, I had like 11 or 12. It’s like, “This is not the trend I was anticipating.”
I read the book of Acts, and it’s “Woo-hoo,” and in my church, the fireworks are all coming back. They’re not going up. They’re coming back. It’s like bombs being dropped on my head. This isn’t good. And you look at it and you say, “I’m just tired. Is this working?”
Some of you have been Christians for a while. You’ve read your Bible every day. You’ve prayed every day. You’ve tried to love your brothers and sisters. You’ve, by God’s grace, hung in there, and you’re just asking yourself sometimes, “Is this workin’? Am I nuts? Loving my enemies? Trusting the Lord? Investing in other people? Blessing those who curse me, and loving those who hate me? And taking time outta my life and money outta my wallet to involve myself in something other than my own interest, is this worth it? Is this working?”
It’s a good, honest word, isn’t it? Paul says, “Don’t grow weary. Don’t grow weary.” You say, “Too late.” “Well, don’t grow weary.” “Okay, how?” “Don’t grow weary.” Your only options as a Christian are to be deceived or continually run the risk of getting tired. Is that true? How many vacillate between there?
Some of you stop and start. You go, “I’m tired. Forget it. I’ll just go sin and be deceived, and say, ‘Oh, this won’t affect anything.’” Then, all of a sudden, you start to see the effects of your sin. You’re saying, “Oh, this is really killing everything. This is not going well. Okay, okay, okay. I’ll go over here and I’ll do the God thing for a while. Oh, well, I’m getting tired.”
So – and this pendulum swings back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. Paul says, “No, don’t be deceived, and don’t mock God, and don’t get weary and stop.” I love how he says it here in verse 9, “Let us not become weary in doing good.” Don’t get tired of doing good.
You say, “But I love my spouse, and they’re not getting fixed. They’re still broken. I discipline my kids. They’re still not obeying. I work hard on my job, and they still don’t give me a raise or a promotion. I study hard at school, and the guy next to me, who cheats, he’s ruining the grade curve. This isn’t working.” Right? “I take time every morning to read the Scriptures, and it’s not working.” Paul says, “Don’t grow weary in doing good, for at –” what? “– the proper time we’ll reap a harvest if –” and here’s the qualifier, “if we don’t give up.” If you don’t give up.
People who give up, they never see harvest. It’s like a farmer says, “I wanna eat such-and-such a crop.” And he looks at his seed, and he looks at his soil, and he realizes it’s gonna be a lot of work to plow. And it’s gonna be a lot of work to sow. And it’s gonna be a lot of work to water. And he’s gonna have to wait a long time before there’s trees, let alone fruit on them. And he says, “Oh, forget it.”
And what God is saying is, “And that guy will never eat the fruit.” He’ll never eat the fruit. He has zero shot. If you sow nothing, you reap nothing. And you’re totally deceived if you think otherwise. And he says, “Here’s the promise,” and you gotta cling to the promise, “at the proper time.” You say, “When’s the proper time?” That’s what we all wanna know. Right?
“Okay, God, I’ll do this ‘til when? Just the finish line. Lord Jesus, tell me the finish line. Okay, August 28? Okay. I will not kill Frank until August 29. Okay? Then on August 29, I will kill Frank unless he changes because you said that the proper time was August 28.”
See, here’s our deal. We want a conclusion to the matter because what we’re thinking is that we wanna see change. And what God is doing is He’s telling us to trust him and keep going, because what God is less concerned about is the fruit we bear. What He’s more concerned about is that we are being conformed to His image. And as we keep going, we get transformed. And what we’re thinking is, “No, wait. I just want the world to change. I want things to change.”
And God’s saying, “Well, first, I’m going to change you. And the way I’m going to change you is I’m going to tell you to trust me, don’t be deceived, don’t mock me, keep going.” You say, “But I don’t see the end.” He says, “You’ll never see the end. Just keeping going, and at the proper time, there will be a harvest. There will be, at the proper time. And I’m not going to tell you when that is. I’m not going to tell you. Because then the goal would be to get to that point rather than being with me.”
Do you understand the difference? God wants us to be with Him. And as for living by faith, and we don’t know what the proper time is, then we have to just stick close to Him and continue with Him. And if He tells the time, then we’re more worried about just getting there, rather than being with him on the journey. So, God doesn’t tell us what the proper time is.
And he doesn’t even promise us that in this lifetime we’ll see the harvest. Some of you are sowing seed today that won’t bear fruit ‘til your grandkids, your great-grandkids. There are people that have died to give us a translation to the Scriptures. They never saw the fruit of it. There are people that have taught. They have sown seed for us.
We’re here because someone else sowed seed, and we don’t get to see – they, rather, don’t get to see the fruit of it. We do. They were praying for us, but they’re dead and gone now. They told us about Jesus, but they’re dead and gone now. They translated the Scriptures, but they’re dead and gone now. They paid for this building, literally, and they’re dead and gone now. And here we sit, because someone else was sowing seed. And the reason they didn’t see the full harvest is it just wasn’t time yet.
And most of our life is about eating fruit that someone else sowed. And we become very impatient and say, “Well, I planted this morning. How come I can’t eat it tonight?” And God says, “It’s just not time yet.” And the time might not come until you walk into the Kingdom, and God looks at you and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That might be harvest day. And so don’t grow weary. And don’t lose heart.
The deception is thinking that there’s any alternative. The deception is thinking that there is a Plan B, or there’s another god, or there’s another religion, or there’s another way. There’s not. That’s deception. And that’s mocking God. And when Paul told us at the end of 5, Chapter 5, to keep in step with the Spirit, this is how we do it.
You will keep in step with the Spirit by tomorrow morning waking up and moving again, reading your Bible, loving Jesus, praying, being with His people, and moving. And doing it the next day, and doing it the next day, and doing it the next day. Now, here’s the thing. How many of you in your own life have already seen, from seed that was sown a long time ago, fruit? It’s starting to come.
You learn some Scripture. You get up every day, you say, “Okay, I’m gonna read my Bible. I’m gonna pray that God would teach me.” You say, “It’s not working. Nothing’s happening.” Five (5) years later, 10 years later, 20 years later, a life circumstance comes. You say, “What do I do here?” And then all of a sudden, God says, “Remember that thing that I taught you a long time ago that we tucked away? Here it is. Go back to that place in the Scripture and meditate on this, and here is your directives. This will lead you out. This will encourage you. This will – this will bear fruit.”
Now, you sowed this 20 years ago, and you’ll harvest it today. But had you never sown, there would be no harvest today. There would be no harvest tomorrow. People who get weary, they just give up. “I’m not gonna have Christian friends. I’m not gonna go to church. I’m not gonna read my Bible. I’m not gonna pray. It’s not working.”
And Paul says, “It’s not working today, but it will work.” And you and I – here’s the interesting thing – we have no idea what the future holds. But what he says here – let us – verse 10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good.” What he’s saying is this, is that God works in opportunities today that will change us, transform us, and sow seed in our life and in other people’s lives that’ll bear harvest someday.
Here’s the hard part. Tomorrow you’re probably not harvesting, you’re probably sowing. Whatever you harvest tomorrow was sown a long time ago. And what you are going to harvest in the future is because of what you’re sowing today.
I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you have been sowing, sowing, sowing love, peace, friendship, and affection for people, and that you have poured yourself out. And Paul talks earlier in Galatians about heavy burdens. When people have crippling things come upon them, you’re the kind of person that carves time out of your life and your schedule because you love Jesus. You go help them. You put a shoulder under their load. You love and encourage and support and help them. And you’re sowing love and grace and kindness into their life. And you’re that kind of person.
Now, what you don’t know is, in ten years, something catastrophic will happen, and you will need your brothers and sisters. And because of what you’ve sown, they will all come to you, and that’ll be your harvest. They’ll say, “You loved me. You helped me. You encouraged me. You supported me. You were like Christ to me in my moment of need, and in your moment of need, I’ll be like Christ to you.” Here’s harvest.
And the person who is angry, and bitter, and mean-spirited, and isolated, and selfish, and jealous, and proud, and bitter – they’re sowing nothing. And when it comes time where they need harvest, there’s nothing. It’s just barren, and they’re left alone.
And so Paul says, “Don’t get weary.” So many of us are just thinking about, “What’ll I eat today,” rather than “what am I going to harvest in 15, 20 years? In 15, 20 generations?” Don’t get tired. Don’t give up. And don’t give in to deception and God mocking. Don’t.
Some of you are here today because you’re trying it again. You’ve already been there. You’ve already lived under the deception. You’ve already sinned and sown it all over your life, and you’re trying to figure out how to cut down all of that, and to clear it, and to plant something else. Don’t be deceived. Don’t get weary. Don’t stop.
For those of you that have been going for a good long, hard season, you have the blessing of starting to see fruit. You have the blessing of starting to see, “Man, it was in this time and place that God brought an opportunity, and by his grace I took that opportunity, and it grew me to make me more like Christ. And out of me came, from the Spirit, came all this good seed that got sown, and now I’m seeing the effects in other people’s lives and friendships and family. And now I’m starting to see that I was a conduit through which God was spreading his goodness.”
But you gotta be patient to see that. Sometimes it takes a while. Sometimes it takes a long while. I see it all the time. I’ve got this privileged vantage point as your pastor to see everybody’s lives.
I’ve seen couples that were divorced, wife prays every day and holds out in faith. I’ve seen, years later, her husband come to Christ and repent, and I get to do their wedding and remarry ‘em. Ask the wife, “How did you hang in there?” “It wasn’t the proper time. I had to sow more seed and wait.” “Really? Didn’t you get weary?” “Of course, but I didn’t stop.”
Because if my options are sow sin, reap death; sow nothing, reap nothing; or trust God and keep going, well, then what options do I really have? As Paul says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” Be nice to the jerk? Yeah. Forgive the person that didn’t even apologize? Uh-huh. Pray for the person that I wish would just die? Yep, yep. Love my enemies? Pray for those who persecute me? Yeah, cause that’s the fruit of the Spirit. That’s love. That’s joy. That’s peace. That’s patience. That’s kindness. That’s gentleness. That’s goodness. That’s faithfulness. That’s self-control. Yep.
Especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Especially to Christians. You say, “No, not them. When the non-Christian’s a jerk, I expect that. It’s like when meat spoils. That’s what meat does. I understand – I don’t get mad at the steak because it went bad. Okay? I left the meat out in the sun; it spoiled. I understand that. The non-Christian did something atrocious; I understand that. But the Christian? They’re heartbreaking. They’re really disappointing. I expected good seed from them. I expected fruit of the Spirit from them. I expected Christ likeness from them, and it didn’t come. What do I do to them?” Do good. Do good.
If they’re sowing death, get in their life and then sow the Spirit. And maybe a harvest will come in their life, but not even a harvest off of their own seed, maybe a harvest off of your seed. Maybe you love them. Maybe you encourage them. Maybe you rebuke them. Maybe you were longsuffering with them. And in the middle of that, God used that to reap a harvest in their life.
How many of you have reaped a great harvest in your life with seed that someone else has thrown? You’re wrong – someone comes and teaches you. They sow that seed. You’re in sin – they come and correct you. You’re getting tired – they come along, and they help you. You’re discouraged – and they encourage you. And that’s the whole purpose of the body of Christ is to build one another up, to encourage one another along.
I sow seed in your life. You throw seed in my life. God bears harvest among us all, sometimes in this life, sometimes years down the road, sometimes in the generations that come after us. And the issue is, do we trust God, and will we stick with them, even when it gets exhausting and the temptation’s to sin, and the self-deception is so overwhelming? Yep. It’s all good, it’s all true.
And here’s how it works. You can’t look at the fruit, and you can’t look at the trees. If you do, you’ll get weary, because you won’t see the fruit you’re anticipating. And you also can’t look at those people that are deceived and mocking God, because it will look like they’re getting what they want and you’re not.
If you focus yourself on those who are deceived, if you focus yourself on the fruit, it’s like a guy sitting beneath the tree, just sort of twiddling his thumbs, waiting for apples. It’s gonna be a while.
Hebrews 12 gives us a good indication of where we must fix our attention. He says, “Therefore, since we’re surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,” that would include the Church, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” this sin and deception. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,” that’s where we’re looking – not to circumstance, not to harvest, not to deceit.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” He begins it, he completes it. We need to follow him. “– who for the joy set out before him endured the cross, and scorning its shame, sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And he tells us, “Consider him who endured such opposition, so that we won’t grow –” what? “– weary and lose heart.”
The only way you keep from just getting sick of it all, or throwing your hands in the air and saying, “I’m just gonna go join those guys that are sinning, ‘cause at least they’re having fun,” is you have to stick your eyes on Jesus, and you have to realize that only by being with Him and focusing on Him are you going to not grow weary and lose heart.
And as you look at Christ, what you realize is, that because of Him, we are not reaping what we have sown. We have sown sin and death, and because of Jesus, we reap love, joy, forgiveness, and life. That you and I should have been separated from God, but He was in our place. That you and I should have been punished, and He was in our place. That you and I should have died, and He did in our place. And that what we have received is not what we deserved.
I listened to a song this week by this crummy, So Cal punk rock band, Papa Roach, and they got this lyric in the song that’s just screaming, “Life is not fair. Life is not fair. Life is not fair,” as if this was a shock, a new revelation that no one had anticipated. And I started thinking about it.
I thought, “You’re right; life isn’t fair. We all should be dead. We all should be in hell. We all should be being tormented. We all should be separated from God. Life isn’t fair. You’re millionaires playing guitars. Life is not fair. You’ve gotten grace. You’ve gotten grace.”
We’ve all gotten grace in varying degrees. And God gives saving grace to His children to take us out of what it is that we rightfully deserve. Jesus reaped what we sowed. And then what he sows in us is his Spirit and new life, and the fruit of the Spirit, and joy, and that’s what God has done. And what we’re told, then, is we have got to keep our eyes on him, and we have got to keep our eyes on that.
And rather than thinking, “Oh, woe is me, I don’t get to reap and harvest on the same day, maybe sin is a short cut,” or, “Woe is me, it’s a long, hard route. It’s more tough than I was anticipating,” we look at Jesus, who is our God, and we say, “Consider him. Consider him, so that we don’t grow weary and lose heart.”
That we’ve been loved, and we can love. That we’ve been forgiven, and we can be clean. That He is leading us, and that we can follow him. And that He is seeking for us to be with Him, not just like Him. And the opportunities in life that He provides are there to cause us to throw some seed. And whether or not we see harvest, that’s not the issue. But if we do, we’re blessed, and we’re glad because of it.
I’m gonna leave you guys there, and I’m gonna leave you with this. It’s not karma. Sowing and reaping is not karma, it’s grace. We don’t cause people to reap what they sow. We give them grace, and we so something else. We sow life instead of death. We sow wisdom instead of folly. We sow forgiveness instead of punishment. We sow grace because God is a God of grace, and he sows grace. And then we seek to reap out of grace and love and mercy and kindness.
And if you’re a person who has been mocking God and sinning it up and throwing your seed, and just saying, “Well, there’s no effect for this,” sex, alcohol, drugs, pride, gossip, whatever your thing is, whatever seed you grab outta the bucket, you need to repent. You need to say, “God, that’s wrong; I realize that, and that is going to lead to death. That’s gonna kill everything it touches, and eventually it’s gonna kill me, and it’s gonna separate me from you, and I’ll taste the second death.”
And we come to Jesus, and we thank him for what he’s done – dead, buried, and raised for our sins. Forgive us, cleanse us, heal us, renew us, transform us, adopt us, and bring us into his family, and ask that the seed that he’s shown in us, the seed of the Spirit, that that seed would go out, and that it would be thrown among those who desperately need it – those who don’t know God, and those who do.”
We’ll take an offering. If you’re a visitor, or not a Christian, don’t give. You’re our guests. For the rest of you, it’s part of our seed sowing. It’s just, “Here’s some money God, use it for your purposes. I’ll scatter it about.”
We take communion as well, which is remembering Jesus’ body and blood, shed for our sins, and we consider Him so that we will not grow weary and lose heart. We bring him our sin. We receive his grace, and we become dispensers of it, and that’s our ministry.
Lord Jesus, we love you. We thank you for our time together. God, it is my pray for us all, first of all, that you would keep us from deception, thinking that there is no cause and effect in the world, that we can do whatever we please, that we can sow however we desire, that we could just take our natural-based, selfish, all self-consuming and worshiping desires and throw them around, and that somehow that will not have any effect in this life or the life to come.
God, please deliver us from such mockery. Please deliver us from such self-deception. Please open our eyes so that as we look at our days, how we use our words, how we spend our time, where we put our money, the people that we’re in contact with, and what it is that we are sowing, please, God, help us to take an accurate, sober assessment of where we are, and keep us from deception and mockery.
And God, it is our prayer that by your grace and the power of your Spirit in us, and Jesus’ work on our behalf, that we would be able to see harvest at proper time in our lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the lives of those that we don’t love, that Lord God, you would use us as a means by which the seed of your grace and your Gospel and your goodness would be thrown around. We pray it would take root in our lives and people’s lives, that it would bear a huge harvest, that people would fall in love with you, that people who do love you would fall deeper in love.
And I pray for us all, Lord God. Some of us have been reading our Bibles and praying. We have been serving. We have been loving. We have been trying to help our brothers and sisters as dearly as we can. Please keep us, Lord God, from weariness, from getting tired, from just getting sick of it and wanting to just be done. Please give us the patient endurance to continue by fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is not only author, but ultimate completer of our faith. Amen.