There is a truth in this spiritual law that goes unmentioned. I believe it to be what God intended for us to understand from this law. The majority of people make sense of the simple truth of something coming back to us as a result of an action of our own. It is most often brought to attention concerning money. I want to offer what I believe to be Insight to Incite™. I pray that this article will provoke you to think.
First, I want to say that I believe the law of sowing and reaping to be indisputable. Every Christian denomination I know of embraces this truth in one way or another. This law is reflected in nature and by it humanity sustains itself. Unbelievers understand sowing and reaping and every farmer counts on it working.
The Apostle Paul, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, used the law of sowing and reaping in several of his writings. I want to focus on the book of Galatians in this article.
(Galatians 6:6–10 ESV) “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 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. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
What is the Spirit communicating through Paul?
As always, context is key to proper understanding. This letter was written to a group of churches in the area of Galatia. The believers in these churches were born again and Spirit filled and had many signs and wonders demonstrated to them. Then, Judaizers came in among them and were teaching them that they needed to keep the Law of Moses and be circumcised to be right with God.
At one point, Paul tells them that they had been severed from Christ in their turning back to keep the Law (Galatians 5:4). If you read the book of Galatians through in one sitting, you will see that the letter is a very stern correction. Paul argues that keeping of the Law cannot make a person right before God, but rather would bring a curse upon them. The entire letter is a methodical argument against keeping the Law, and for righteousness by faith.
Then, at the end of Paul’s correction, he says:
(Galatians 6:6 ESV) “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.”
Paul is not bringing up a financial responsibility here, but rather, a command for the Galatians to re-establish right relationship with those who had taught them about our grace in Christ Jesus. I do not believe finances were on Paul’s mind at all in this instance.
koinoneō - share all good things, KJV - communicate.
An excerpt from Kenneth Wuest:
The interpretation that makes the one taught assume the responsibility for the financial welfare of his teacher is not possible in this instance of the use of the word koinoneō (κοινονεω). This is the word Paul uses in Philippians 4:15, where he speaks of the obligation of the one taught to make the financial needs of his teacher his own, thus sharing with his teacher his earthly goods inasmuch as the teacher has shared with him his heavenly blessings. But Paul does not use it so here, and for the following reasons: First, the context which speaks both of the evil (6:1–5) and the morally good (6:9, 10), is against the interpretation that financial support is in the apostle’s mind here. Second, the context defines the good things as being of a spiritual, not a material nature. Third, it would be the height of folly for Paul to inject such a delicate subject as the pocket book of the saint (delicate in some circles) into the already discordant atmosphere of the Galatian churches, especially when the whole trouble revolved around heretical teaching and not around the finances of the churches.
Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Ga 6:6). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
The responsibility of the saint to support the ministry I do not believe is a questionable doctrine. The Bible speaks greatly, and in detail, about those being ministered to are to financially support those that are ministering to them. Any time a minister teaches the saints they are to be rewarded for their service. Paul made this crystal clear in his letter to the Corinthians.
(1 Corinthians 9:11–14 ESV) “If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”
Paul said that the Lord commanded that New Testament ministers were to be supported in the same way that God commanded the Levites to be supported in the Old Testament - by tithes and offerings.
However, in this instance in Galatians, Paul is not speaking about supporting the ministers, but rather about staying in relationship with those that taught them concerning the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
The best translation of this verse is by Kenneth Wuest.
Galatians 6:6 - Moreover, let the one who is being taught the Word constantly be holding fellowship with the one who is teaching in all good things.
The entire problem the Galatian churches had was that they broke fellowship with the ministers that brought the things of God to them and were following after false teachers. Their minds were being corrupted prompting Paul to exclaim - “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1)
Separating the saint from the one ordained to teach them is also a very big problem in our day. If you remain in relationship with the ministry gift God has assigned you to, you will be continually sowing to the Spirit and reaping eternal life. You do this by being in their presence regularly hearing the Word of God taught and preached.
Do not be deceived.
This section of scripture is always brought up as a promise to believe for, but Paul wrote it as a warning. Of course a warning is also a promise, but of something no one wants. Notice, Paul starts by saying “Do not be deceived.” That is a warning. He also states these things as emphatic - this will happen whether you want it to or not, or whether you believe it or not. Paul is stating that this is going to happen to you and you have a choice to make - either sow to the flesh or to the Spirit. Each will produce a different result and we are told what those results will be.
I find it interesting that when this is used for something we want, we are told to release our faith in our sowing. However, Paul says that if you sow to the flesh you will reap corruption. No one believes God and releases faith for corruption, yet if we sow to the flesh it will happen and we cannot stop it. So, there is no faith involved in reaping from the flesh, yet, we are told we must have faith if we are sowing for something we want.
The truth is that there is not a time when you are NOT sowing. Everything you do around the clock is sowing. Just sitting and staring out of a window is sowing. As a matter of fact, not doing anything is also sowing. Let me prove this to you from the Word of God.
(Proverbs 6:10–11 ESV) “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
Doing nothing will cause you to reap poverty. No one does something intentionally to reap poverty because no one wants poverty. Notice that no faith is involved either. Just do nothing and poverty comes.
Sowing to the flesh.
In Paul’s argument concerning the Law and grace, if they continue to seek the Law as their means of righteousness, they will be sowing to the flesh and ultimately reap corruption. “Corruption” is a term often used when talking about death. Here are a couple of scriptures associating corruption and death.
(1 Corinthians 15:42 KJV) “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:”
(1 Corinthians 15:50 KJV) “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”
Living life pursuing the Law of Moses for righteousness is sowing to the flesh and its’ end leads to corruption. Paul’s warning about sowing to the flesh speaks about going back under the Law.
(Galatians 3:2–6 ESV) “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?”
The entire book of Galatians is Paul warning the Galatians of the consequences of going back under the Law. In Paul’s argument, sowing to the flesh is not about doing something carnal and then reaping some kind of negative response. While doing carnal things will reap corresponding results, Paul is not addressing a specific action, but rather going back under the Law. He challenges them, “are you now being perfected by the flesh?”
Sowing to the Spirit.
This concept seems to allude many people. How, and what, is sowing to the Spirit? The scripture speaks specifically of sowing to the Spirit, not sowing anything in general. Again, the context of which Paul is addressing the Galatians is the key to understanding.
Paul’s objective is to get the Galatians to return to right doctrine and return to right relationship with the true ministers of God. Paul pairs the Spirit and the one who ministered together.
(Galatians 3:5–6 ESV) “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?”
The Galatians had signs, wonders and miracles worked among them and they had received the Spirit. Imagine, they were Spirit filled Christians and were being easily led astray by false teachers. Paul reminds them of these things.
(Galatians 3:2 ESV) “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”
(Galatians 3:5 ESV) “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith—”
Being saved, Spirit filled, and witnessing miracles does not cause a person to remain in right doctrine. What causes a believer to remain in right doctrine is for that believer to continuously be discipled by a minister of God - this is sowing to the Spirit. Jesus thinks believers need ministry gifts.
(Ephesians 4:11–12 ESV) “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,”
It’s the will of God that believers have examples to follow in life.
(Hebrews 13:7 ESV) “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate (KJV - follow) their faith.”
Had the Galatians known of and obeyed the above scripture they would not have been bewitched and led astray back into the Law. They would have been sowing to the Spirit continuously and therefore would reap eternal life.
Reaping eternal life.
Paul tells the Galatians that if they sow to the Spirit, they will from the Spirit reap eternal life. When do you reap eternal life?
(Galatians 6:9 ESV) “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
(Romans 6:22 ESV) “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”
While we have received the earnest of our inheritance (the Baptism of the Holy Spirit), there is a much fuller experience to come. Paul speaks of a due season for those who don’t give up. A life of sanctification and living for God finds its’ end in eternal life. Paul told the Galatians that they had been severed from Christ and had fallen away from grace (Galatians 5:1-4). That would lead them to reap eternal corruption. Either “corruption” or “eternal life” are reaped at the end of a life depending upon what was sowed to in that life.
Those believers who remain in fellowship with their assigned ministry gift will also reap the benefits of eternal life - now in this life. By submitting to discipleship, people learn about healing, prosperity, deliverance, prayer and on and on. As they grow, the blessings of God are reaped, now in this life. In this way they are reaping eternal life while they live this life.
The terminology Paul uses here is critical to understand. For our English word “season” Paul uses the Greek word “kairos.” Kairos is a very doctrinal word. The definition of kairos is as follows:
The critical, epoch-making periods fore-ordained of God when all that has been slowly, and often without observation, ripening through long ages, is mature and comes to birth in grand decisive events which constitute at once the close of one period and the commencement of another.
Kairos – the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for.
Paul is not speaking about waiting four or five months to harvest some corn. Neither is he speaking of the seasons: winter, spring, summer or fall.
Paul is saying that what is reaped will occur at the close of this age. At the close of this age believers will reap eternal life and unbelievers will reap corruption. Since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, believers have died in faith, believing for and waiting for the consummation of God’s plan of salvation. It will occur in due season.
The Apostle Peter said it this way.
(1 Peter 1:3–5, 13 ESV) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
There is much more to reap concerning our salvation, but only for those who continue to sow to the Spirit. There are many people like the Galatians that somewhere in their walk in life they were deceived and led astray by false teachers.
If we do not give up.
(Galatians 6:9 ESV) “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
To not give up is the only condition that Paul states. He doesn’t even mention releasing faith, although every believer is to live by faith (Romans 1:17).
No one can be accused of growing weary of doing something by doing it one time. This is not speaking of an incident of sowing that can be given up on. Weariness can occur because of something you have to do all of the time. I don’t know about you but I get weary of taking out the trash because more just keeps coming.
People often give up because they are not getting the results they believe they should have. Disappointment occurs when expectations are not met. The Galatians didn’t want to live by faith and wait for the plan of God to unfold. They were not satisfied with faith. They wanted to be engaged in some kind of works oriented religion that would make them feel that they were doing something towards their righteousness. So, they gave up on Paul, on faith and on the Holy Spirit and followed false teachers.
God is not mocked.
Paul saying “Do not be deceived” and that “God is not mocked” underscores the seriousness of the issue. He is dealing with life and death, both of which are in the authority of the individual’s will. The Galatians thought that they were still in right standing with God and that there were no concerns that they should have. After all, the Law was in fact from God. Paul is telling them that there WILL be a reaping based upon what they were sowing. There was nothing they could do to escape reaping corruption other than coming back to faith in Christ.
If you have read this article, I urge you to read the book of Galatians uninterrupted from beginning to end. The letter is a correction and a warning from a foundational Apostle to a group of deceived, once Spirit filled Christians in hopes of convincing them to return to faith in Christ for righteousness. Otherwise, they were going to reap corruption.
The Law of sowing and reaping is emphatic - it will happen. We have to be careful how we use it because the issue is life or death.