via Gospel Minutes, Vol. 56, No. 8, Feb. 23, 2007
While preparing for a cookout on July 3, 2006, a Delaware man decided to use gunpowder rather than charcoal lighter fluid to get the coals glowing in his grill. This "unorthodox" fire preparation method blew up on him, and he suffered burns on his hands and face. Oh, police said the man had been drinking. ("Quick Takes", July 22, 2006, p. 7).
This is one of those episodes that seems so obvious. What could that man have been thinking, alcohol and all? What did he think gunpowder would do? Couldn't he (like the rest of us) see what would happen if he mixed fire and gunpowder? The consequences were obvious, long before the explosion.
Yet, how many of us engage in the same sorts of things in the spiritual realm? We think we can make God into whatever we want Him to be, and all will be well. We think we can ignore God and all will be well. We think we can choose for ourselves and leave God out, and all will be well. But the fact is, in charcoal grills and in faith, what goes around comes around. How you decide to live is how you will live. Paul makes this clear. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:7-10). In these verses, the apostle lays out some basic principles of planting and harvesting. God knows you will harvest only what you plant. Notice what we learn:
What You Do Is What You Get
You can't plant carrots and get radishes. You can't plant roses and harvest tomatoes. What you plant is what will sprout and grow. There is a basic rule of gardening. What you do is what you get.
Paul applies this principle to the choices you make now. If you choose to cater to your passion and pleasures, you will not harvest holiness and purity. If you choose to give in to your selfish impulses, you will not experience unselfishness in your life.
And, notice, this principle applies in two ways. First, when life is over you will be judged by God based on what you sowed. If you sowed in sin, you will harvest in punishment. If you sowed in selfishness, loneliness and isolation will be your harvest.
Second, this happens now, in this life as well. People who give in to their anger, often live in violence and volatile arguments, seldom experiencing peace. People who are selfish seldom have people looking out for them. They take care of number one first and foremost, and others let them.
You see, if you don't like the environment of your home or workplace or friendships, the person you need to examine is yourself. You are probably planting some seeds that keep sprouting that make you miserable. If you want a happier life, learn to be happy and kind toward others. When you plant unselfishness, you will harvest the love and attention of others.
And, finally, realize that what you plant in this life will be your harvest in the next. God will not be mocked, that is, you can't get this by the Lord. He knows what you are planting in your home, your work, your relationships. What you plant will determine your eternal salvation.
What You Enjoy Is Your Future
Do you sow to please the flesh? Or, do you sow to please the Spirit? Are you more interested in the good times you can have right now, or are you more interested in making the Lord happy? These are not trivial questions as they will say a great deal about your long-term happiness and well-being.
Where do you find your pleasure? Is it in what you can enjoy, what you can own, what you can experience? Or, is it in the happiness and joy you offer to others? Do you go do your own thing and not worry about what God would say, or do you try to please Him in all things?
Here again, there is a dual application to this principle. Some people think having a good time is all that matters. For some, it is physical pleasure, for others, financial gain, for others sports and movies. Eventually, these things stop paying off. So, the addict needs stiffer drinks. The glutton faces serious health issues. The sports fanatic shares little with anyone outside his passion. In other words, what you choose to enjoy in this life, what gives you pleasure will determine what kind of life (and afterlife) you experience.
If you learn to make God happy, to sow to the Spirit, you will also determine your future here and in the next life. That is why Paul goes on to talk of doing good for others, especially those who are related by faith. If you can learn to find joy in helping, happiness in sharing, satisfaction in seeing others happy, then you are sowing to the Spirit. And, in that atmosphere, you will reap a reward in this life and in the next life.
What You Do For People Matters Most
Paul encourages us so that we will not quit doing good. The harvest may seem distant at times, but we must continue to do good to all men so that our reward is safe and secure. It is always easy to get discouraged and give up, thinking our sowing is not harvesting anything. But, like the farmer who waits patiently for the harvest, so we must plant right now and watch for God to bring in the harvest.
What matters is that we tend to others, that we keep on doing good, that we do good to and for all men. This will make you happier now and will give you a great reward when you meet the Lord. This requires that we sow unselfishly. You cannot look out for yourself and still put others first. You cannot take care of yourself while neglecting others and still tend to them first. The bottom line is simple. What matters most is how you treat people.
God explains this clearly. "And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you" (Colossians 3:12,13). It is how we treat others that matters. Are we kind, compassionate, humble, gentle, and patient? Do we put up with each other, even to the point of forgiving others when they sin against us? You see, what matters is how you treat others.
What Are You Planting?
You can create a wonderful harvest. You can reap peace, harmony, happiness, and eternal life. Or, you can live for yourself and plant a lonely, unfulfilled, empty life. You are choosing right now what your harvest will be in the coming months, years, and even eternity.
So, what are you planting? Look at your life and decide. Are you serving others, doing good for all men, putting others first? Or, are you looking out for number one, taking care of your wants at the expense of others, seeking a good time before caring about the needs of other people? What are you planting each day with your words and actions?
What Will You Harvest?
If you were able to answer the first question, then you know the answer to this one. If you sow to your flesh, you will reap a harvest that is difficult and tragic. If you sow to the Spirit, you will reap a harvest that is rich and full in this life and the next life. Once you honestly face the seeds you are planting around you, you will know exactly what your harvest will look like. So, what will you harvest?
This may seem too simple, but it is nevertheless still true. You cannot sow to please your sinful desires and harvest a home with God. you cannot sow to satisfy your passions at the expense of others and harvest a happy home life. You cannot sow laziness and selfishness and harvest a powerful career. What you sow, is what you will get.
Sow To The Lord
If your aim is to make the Lord happy, then do what He says. "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends, if you do what I command you" (John 15:12-14). You can make the Lord happy simply by doing what He commands. This includes doing good to others. It includes learning to love others in both action and word. It includes trusting in Him to save you.
"And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; be he who has disbelieved shall be condemned'" (Mark 16:15-16). You can argue with this. You can refuse this. But you cannot sow to please the Lord unless you do what He commands. Sow to the Lord by being baptized today. Then, you will reap a harvest that is unimaginable.
Trust Him, be saved -- today!