How does the garden of your life grow?
Is it tangled in weeds, complications, and chaos?
Or at rest and producing love, joy, peace, and other fruits with little effort?
Like most ideas and teachings expressed in the Bible: Sowing and reaping is a law.
Not in the sense of do this or do not do that with specific orders, but a law that states the way things are.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Galatians 6:7.
This sowing and reaping meaning is seen clearly in all of life.
- If you sow the disciplines of learning a language, you reap proficiency in that language
- When you sow to the “arts” like playing the piano, woodworking or becoming a barista, you reap the rewards of excelling in that craft
- Sowing to consume Netflix, alcohol, soda, or desserts, you reap addiction to these potential vices.
The “reaping” is – established automatic habits of years spent sowing to those habits, both good and bad.
Two sowing and reaping options with very different outcomes, death or decay vs. life are in bright contrast in Galatians 6:8
“the one sowing to his own flesh, from the flesh will reap decay. But the one sowing to the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Ahh, the confusing flesh language, what is flesh?
J.P. Moreland defines the flesh like this, “The flesh is the habits contrary to flourishing in the Kingdom that reside in specific body parts.”
Flesh vs. Spirit
The results of sowing to the flesh – being enslaved to the terrible burden of always having to get your way.
But when you sow to the spirit: “through the management of my body, dealing rigorously and wisely with it and depending on God’s help.” (Dallas Williard)
The easy yoke can then become a reality.
How do you sow to the spirit and reap this abundant eternal life from the spirit available to you now?
Today you will learn the most missed but critical “bucket” of seeds to sow each week and when you are victorious in overcoming sowing to the flesh how you will avoid reaping the whirlwind.
Reaping the Whirlwind?
We get another sowing and reaping example in the Bible in Hoseah 8:7 “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”
What is this whirlwind?
The whirlwind is an automatic response and reaction to others, that resides just below the surface.
This whirlwind reveals its ugly head when there is a threat to your security, status, or satisfaction; when something or someone blocks your goals.
“Fear and wrath mingle to form the automatic, overt response of the ‘normal, decent human being’ to any person or event that threatens his or her security, status, or satisfaction. Once this response floods in, all of the other tendencies to evil in the human organism begin ticking away, sure to take their course if not somehow deactivated or repressed.
As we so correctly say, ‘all hell breaks loose.’ Once the word with its load of wrath is unleashed, the larger processes of evil are set in motion. The little detonator sets off the bullet or the bomb. We have then sown the wind and will reap the whirlwind.” Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines.
The flesh reaps a harvest of consistently telling “little” lies, taking “small” things that do not belong to us, and often thinking of how nice it would be if “certain” others were dead because of this sowing and reaping that occurs in fallen human nature.
The cure? Sow to the spirit, the abundant life, one week at a time.
How to Sow to the Spirit
This “sow” language stems from one of Jesus’s favorite symbols, the seed.
Sowing to the spirit involves planting the seeds of a spiritual life, “exercises unto godliness” what we now refer to as the spiritual disciplines.
When you sow to the spiritual disciplines, one of two things occurs which aid you to continue in sowing to the spirit,
- It uproots an ingrained habit in your flesh
- a fruit of the spirit, love, joy, patience, peace, and more begin to grow.
The spirit is already leading you into many of these “sowing to the spirit” exercises: prayer, meditation, or fasting, and lesser-known spiritual disciplines like silence, solitude, celebration, or service.
At the core of “sowing to the spirit” is a commitment to invest time sowing to the most important spiritual disciplines, increasing self-control of your body with the end goal of reaping grace, eternal life.
Colossians Reveals the Way
There is a lot more self-awareness and individual creativity involved in these disciplines than most realize.
A glimpse of this individuality is seen earlier in Galatians 6:4-5.
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” The Message.
Colossians is the only letter of Pauls in the Bible written to people he never met.
All other letters include statements like, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.” Philippians 4:9.
Like the Colossians,
- you have never seen how often Paul spent time alone,
- how he worked,
- how he interacted with others,
- what he ate
which is why he says this is what I pray for you Colossians who have not seen me as a model in Colossians 1:9
“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”
Even without physically having a good model to follow, you can interact with God personally when you sow to the spirit and reap “wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”.
How do you foster hearing this wisdom and understanding from God?
In the same manner and steadfastness, it takes to learn how to play guitar, become an accountant, or achieve “success” in any other worthwhile endeavor.
With the appropriate vision, focus, and actions.
The Fundamental Place to Sow
A surprise conversation revealed in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law was; how often this over 200-year-old book mentions time.
Time is the measurement of life, (How Old Are You? a.k.a. how much time have you lived?), and what you do with your time is what defines your life.
What you do with your time is what you are sowing to and, therefore, reaping.
Here was one of William Law’s most compelling examples:
“The disciple will become a disciple when he determines to direct his time, regardless of how un-spiritual that thing he does in the time directed, this discipline will over time permeate all areas of his life.”
A Bucket of Seeds
Each week you are given seeds to sow, buckets of time. We measure these seeds by seconds, minutes, and hours.
In the physical and the spiritual, you can reap anything you commit your time to, good and bad.
Jesus delivered a corresponding law that comes alongside the law of reaping and sowing in Matthew 7:18, “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”
When you sow seeds of time to appropriate exercises, you become a healthy tree that can not bear bad fruit.
Short sited challenges, 30-day challenges, 90-day challenges, and New Years’ resolutions rarely bring about the desired and needed changes of sowing and reaping new lifelong habits.
The vision is incorrect. These challenges focus on reaping outside of your control elements, losing 20 lbs, having your spouse like you more, getting a book deal, acquiring 1,000 subscribers or followers are and more.
When the focus shifts to the sowing, by predetermining what time the effective physical or spiritual discipline will occur, everything changes.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
A life that never accomplishes New Year’s resolutions, weight loss challenges, Bible reading plans, learning the guitar, or anything else that requires significant time has not predetermined what blocks of time this week will be devoted to this discipline.
A Surprise Party You Love Awaits
Sowing and reaping, one season at a time, results in a life Screwtape wants you to avoid. C.S. Lewis writes,
“Of course I know that the enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. Remember, always, that he really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, he means only abandoning the clamor of self-will; once they have done that, he really gives them back all their personality, and boasts that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.”
An unlocked personality?
“Everyone who is victorious shall eat of the hidden manna, the secret nourishment from heaven; and I will give to each a white stone, and on this Stone will be engraved a new name that no one else knows except the one receiving it.” Revelation 2:17
Completely self-aware receiving deep nourishment from God that is more sustaining than food?
Instead of sowing to unquenchable desires, gluttonous addictions, depression, loneliness, and other hells on earth and after,
“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5.