Galatians 6:7, 8
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap.…
The Galatians appear to have been niggardly in their contributions for the support of their Christian teachers (ver. 6). St. Paul warns them that such conduct will tell against themselves (see Proverbs 11:24). The principle on which he bases his admonition is one of deep significance and wide application. No doubt the apostle wished it to be impressed upon his readers in all its bearings as well as in relation to the particular case that led him to mention it.
I. IT IS A LAW OF NATURE THAT THE REAPING SHALL CORRESPOND TO THE SOWING.
1. This is part of the general law that, other things being equal, the same cause always produces the same effect. There is no known exception to the law of causation; there is no possible evasion of it. We see it plainly working in human affairs. The eternal constancy of nature assures us that the consequences of which certain conduct is known to be the cause will undoubtedly follow.
2. The special law of sowing and reaping is that the product of the harvest will be the same in kind as the seed sown. Tares will never produce wheat, nor wheat tares. But each seed reproduces its own kind. This is seen in human affairs. Commercial industry 'tends to commercial wealth, intellectual study to a state of intellectual culture, etc. It is vain to think that money will buy refinement or that learning is the road to wealth. Each pursuit has its own consequences in accordance with its own nature.
II. THIS LAW APPLIES TO SPIRITUAL SOWING AND REAPING.
1. Here the future depends on the past and present by a certain law of causation. No words could more plainly assert that our conduct is shaping our own fate; and these are not the words of St. James, but of St. Paul! and they occur, of all places, in the Epistle to the Galatians, where the doctrine of justification by faith is most vehemently asserted! Moreover, they are not addressed to Jews still under the Law, nor to heathen who have not yet availed themselves of the privileges of the gospel, but to Christians who have come into the justification by faith, as it is to Christians that St. Paul says elsewhere, "We shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God" (Romans 14:10). We are here reminded that the future consequences of conduct are natural, not adventitious - that they are caused by what we are and do, that they flow of their own accord from our lives, and are not assigned from without by any arbitrary decree. We simply reap what our own sowing has produced for us.
2. In spiritual things there is a correspondence between what is sown and what is reaped.
(1) Sowing to the flesh produces its own natural harvest - corruption. The mere animal life, the life of worldly interests, the life of the lower self, is itself a life of corruptible things. Its soil and nourishment are earthly and cannot outlast death. When the grave opens all is lost. Even before death thieves steal, and moth and rust eat into the treasures. The soul itself, too, is corrupted by such a life. Its faculties are dissipated and decay away. It descends to the evil state of moral rottenness and death.
(2) Sowing to the Spirit produces its own harvest of eternal life. Spiritual things are eternal things. Treasures in heaven are beyond destroying influences. In proportion as the spiritual within us is cultivated we have what will outlast death and what no grave will ever claim. Already we have an eternal life in living in the things that are spiritual and therefore eternal. Money goes, but faith remains; the pleasures of the senses pall upon us, but the peace of God never fails; self-seeking leads to dissatisfaction, the love of God sustains us with undying interests.
III. THE KNOWLEDGE OF SUCH A LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING IS A WANNING AGAINST INSINCERITY. It is vain to shut our eyes to it. Nature is pitilessly inexorable, and here we are considering a law of nature which is as rigid as the law of gravitation. Deception may avail with men, but here we have God's action, and no subterfuge can escape his detection. There is a sort of irony on our petty schemes and contrivances in the calm, sure way in which the laws of the universe work out their issues, totally regardless of what we may imagine or pretend. Yet we are in danger of self-deception.
1. The harvest is delayed. The result is not the less certain, however, on that account. Seeds found buried with Egyptian mummies thousands of years ago when sown now bear fruit after their kind, with as little deviation as if they had been produced last harvest.
2. We expect more consequences than the law of sowing and reaping justifies. Thus we are surprised that bad men should be prosperous in worldly matters and good men unfortunate. But each reaps as he sows. fie who sows to the world reaps worldly gain, with its ultimate corruption. He who sows only to the Spirit has no right to expect more than spiritual returns. His harvest will be eternal life, not money and pleasure. He gets just what he sows, only with increase. Finally, how can we reconcile this principle with the gospel of Christ and the doctrine of grace? Simply by seeing that to have a true submissive and obedient faith in Christ is to sow to the Spirit. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.