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 man who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life.
– Galatians 5:7-8
This teaching of Paul to the people in Galatia provides an unchanging principle about the way God created the order of our lives: we reap what we sow. In the whole letter to the Galatians Paul is urging them to focus in certain ways. The people have been distracted by other things and teachings. Confusion, doubt and even lies have settled in where they don’t belong. It is wreaking havoc in their lives and in their community of faith. These verses jump out for me today.
I wonder what we are sowing in our lives right now. If we think of our lives as a garden, the question would be: what seeds are we planting? What will our families be eating when harvest times comes? Will it be food that gives our bodies and minds strength for the time ahead? Will the labor of weeding, tending and harvesting bring peace at the end of the day? Or will our work bring doubt, despair and destruction? I wonder.
I can point to specific moments and even seasons when I was sowing seeds that didn’t help my life at all. It may have been too much marijuana to escape the struggle of my teenage years or long periods of neglecting health; or buying into the lure of distracting priorities. Ughh….we all have those times!
I can also point to moments and seasons where I asked God to help me realign what I knew wasn’t working. And in those moments God always led me back to sowing the seeds that would feed me well. I love this line from Psalm 40:2. I have been pulled thousands of times from the slimy pit!
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
Today is the observed national holiday to remember Martin Luther King, Jr. I didn’t know Dr. King personally. I was alive but really young when he was assassinated. I do know of the seeds he planted because we still read, listen and even apply much of what he taught. Dr. King planted a garden from which we still feast. It was a garden of peace and justice. It was a dream that he shared with the people of our nation, and ultimately, the world. A dream God gave him to share at a specific time in our nation’s history. A dream of which the prophets of old, also spoke.
As I read Paul’s letter to the Galatians today it begs me to ask myself: what seeds am I sowing with my life? It’s an adult question. Our lives have lasting impact. From within our homes and wherever we walk; there is a trail we are always leaving for others. Perhaps this is the practice of today…to recognize that we do reap what we sow. Whether we are working or resting or marching or studying or speaking or playing: whatever we sow, we reap. I do wonder if we are brave enough to ask ourselves:
What seeds are we sowing in our families?
What are we sowing in our work and in the way we work?
What are we sowing in our relationships with friends and others we love?
What are we sowing in our rest and recreation?
What kind of community and nation are our seeds growing?
What dreams are being dreamed in us?
Paul believed our actions yield results that shape our lives. His prayer was that our lives would be shaped for eternity. Jesus also prayed that for us. I am praying it for us too.
Lord Christ, have mercy on us. Pull us from the slimy pit and set our feet on solid ground. Where we are distracted, please have mercy and realign our steps. Where we are sowing seeds that bring destruction, we humbly and boldly ask you to free us from those chains. Remind us that you gave your life for our freedom and salvation, not for shame and condemnation. Where we are sowing the seeds of the Spirit in our lives, give us strength for the labor of love needed to continue with that work. And by your grace, merciful God, please don’t stop dreaming your dreams in us. We need your dreams in our spirits and minds right now. Give us courage to live into what you reveal as your kingdom is fulfilled on earth. We love you and we trust you completely. Thank you for not giving up on us. Amen.
Zach Williams: Less Like Me