In Galatians 6; Paul finishes his letter with a principle that many have quoted but in all honesty, few apply in its proper application. Many try to teach that it has to do with money or physical things, however that is the least of the applications of this passage. So let’s take a look at what Paul is trying to get across to the Galatian church and how we can apply it to our lives.
The Reap What You Sow Bible Verse:
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. Don’t be misled – you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone – especially to those in the family of faith. —Galatians 6:1-10, NLT
The first thing we see in this passage is that it has very little to do with physical things. Yes it talks about sharing with those that teach you but it is not some type of get rich quick formula or a way to insure God’s financial blessing on your life. It has much more to do with how we deal with one another.
Reaping a Harvest of How We Treat Others
Paul is taking what Jesus said when He gave the Golden Rule and applying it to our lives and how we relate to one another. Notice that he talks about reaping what we sow or harvesting what we plant in the context of how we deal with issues in the church.
The first issue he talks about is how we deal with a person who is caught in sin. Notice that the motive is not to expose or humiliate the person but instead the motive is restoration. He applies the principle of “doing unto others” by telling these people that they should approach and deal with the situation humbly and gently.
Why is the Golden Rule the proper way to deal with these types of situations? Because that is how we would want to be treated and in all honesty, that is how God deals with us. So if we remember that it could be us that has fallen into sin, then if we treat others the way we would want to be treated, then we are sowing gentleness and humility and someday we will reap a harvest of gentleness and humility when it is us that needs help getting back on the path.
The second issue he deals with is transparency. He talks about bearing one another’s burdens. The only way you can do that is if you have enough trust in those around you that they will lift you up and help you carry the load rather than condemn you and make you feel worse.
There is a great temptation to use other people’s failures to make yourself feel superior. This is not something that comes from God; it is a work of the flesh. This is why Paul talks about not having the need to compare ourselves with somebody else but being satisfied with our own work.
When we allow people to share even their failures and be transparent about how their lives really are, we break the cycle of bondage that they are in and they are released to actually seek freedom and victory over the thing that is burdening them. We are loving our brothers and sisters as we love ourselves. We are planting something into their lives that we will need in our own at another time.
Paul talks about sharing with those that are teaching you. Those that are leading you spend time preparing to help you in your Christian life. They are putting your needs before their own. We all need to eat, be sheltered, have clothes, etc.
We normally do this by spending time earning the means to provide these things. When a person spends their time helping others in their Christian life, they give up the time needed to provide for their physical needs. Thus, Paul tells those that are being taught to provide for those that are teaching. When you do that, then once again you are treating them as you would want to be treated if the role was reversed.
Secondly you are also planting seeds so that when the time comes where you are the teacher or you have a need in your life that needs to be provided for, you have done the giving so it is not unjust for you to ask to receive.
Paul then goes on to talk about the justice of God. Think about it.
What things have you received from God? If you do not sow what you have been given by God into the lives of others, is that not somehow wrong? Is it not an injustice? If you have freely received from God, should you not freely give?
If you live a self centered and self indulgent life then you will reap people being self centered and self indulgent towards you. You will be used, abused and mistreated. You will reap all the things that lead to death. If you live a life that gives the things that you would want to be given to yourself, then you will get a harvest of people that treat you that way. They will lift you up, help you out and give when you have a need.
Who Controls The Harvest?
I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. —1 Corinthians 3:6, NIV
We are the ones who do the planting. We control the seed that is planted. Others may come along and water that seed and become partners with us in our reaping and sowing. However, the timing of when the harvest becomes ripe is not up to us. That is why you cannot use the principle of reaping what you sow as some type of formula for self gratification.
The harvest is up to God’s timing. You have to trust Him. That is why Paul encourages them to not grow weary in doing good. In His time, He will give the harvest that you need when you need it. That is why Paul tells them to do good to everyone when they have an opportunity to do good with. Especially those who are their brothers and sisters.
How do you reap and sow? You do so by doing good to others. Why? Because God has done good to you.
Pastor Duke Taber has been a believer in Jesus for 33 years and has been a pastor for over 20 years currently serving at the Vineyard church in Pine Haven, Wyoming. Pastor Duke publishes a Christian living magazine called Taber’s Truths and is the owner of Christian Faithbook.