Keeping in Step with the Spirit Part Three: Sowing to the Spirit
Topic: Holy Spirit Passage: Galatians 5:16–5:26, Galatians 6:7–6:10
The Holy Spirit
Grace Community Church
Oct. 17, 2021
Keeping in Step with the Spirit Part Three: Sowing to the Spirit
Let’s turn again to Gal. 5. Before we move on in our series on the Holy Spirit, let’s look at how we can keep in step with the Spirit by sowing to the Spirit.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Let’s jump down to Gal. 6 verse 7
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 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. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
I love the vision that Paul casts in these verses. It’s a vision for a life well invested; a life lived for something bigger than ourselves, a life spent sowing to the Spirit. It’s a vision that fits every person from every demographic, no matter race or education or status or wealth. It’s a vision available to anyone and everyone who names the name of Jesus Christ.
It’s God’s answer to every believer who wonders, why am I here? What difference will my life make? God says, I want your life to make a difference, not just for time, but for eternity. I can do that through you! Keep in step with My Spirit by sowing to the Spirit.
Let’s pause and ask God’s blessing on His word.
Let’s talk about sowing and reaping.
- We reap what we sow
Gal. 6:7 says don’t be deceived: God is not mocked, whatever someone sows, that’s what they reap. God has woven the principle of sowing and reaping throughout His creation. It’s true in agriculture and it’s true in every other aspect of life too.
Paul breaks it down to two seeds: we can sow to the flesh or we can sow to the Spirit.
Verse 8 says 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption.
A seed has the genetic code for the fruit it will produce written in it. An apple seed will never produce an oak tree, because written in that seed is the genetic code for an apple tree. That’s why an apple seed will always produce an apple tree and an oak seed will always produce an oak tree. When Paul says the one who sows to the flesh will reap corruption he’s saying that death is written in the code of our flesh. Our flesh can’t produce eternal life, it will always reap corruption because corruption is woven into its genetic code.
In chapter 5 Paul identifies some of the works (or seeds) of the flesh. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means but it gives us a good idea of what sowing to the flesh looks like.
Eventually the flesh dies – we all live with the knowledge that our bodies are ticking time bombs. But when we sow to the flesh, corruption begins to rot away at our lives and our relationships long before that. If we sow anger into a relationship, over time it will damage and eventually kill that relationship. The seeds of the flesh, be it sexual immorality or jealousy or division or strife, might feel good as we sow them, but the harvest will be corruption. The more seeds of the flesh a person sows, the more their life and relationships will be corrupted.
The reason we can easily be deceived is because there’s often a delay between the sowing and the reaping and that can deceive us into thinking that we can sow and not reap. We can do the flesh and not pay the consequences. But God is not mocked, eventually what we sow we will reap.
But for the believer in Jesus Christ, Paul paints a far better, far longer-lasting vision:
…the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
God is Life and the Author of life and eternal life is woven into the genetic code of all the Spirit does. Keeping in step with the Spirit tells us the Spirit is always moving, always working, always bringing about life and God invites us to join Him, keep in step with Him, by sowing to the Spirit! Spread that life, sow that eternal life, sow a field of the seed of the Spirit and reap a harvest of eternal life! What an invitation!
And to make sure we know this invitation isn’t just for ivory tower theologians, scholars, and academia nuts, Paul keeps it really, really simple. Simple enough for a child to grasp. How do we sow to the Spirit?
- Sowing to the Spirit means doing good
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Do good! Do! This is about action! This is about doing! In a couple weeks we’ll be looking in more depth at the Spirit’s work on our character, who we are (fruit). But sowing emphasizes what we do. Action.
We aren’t saved by good works (not at all!) but we are saved for good works. Paul says get after it! Do good!
- Let’s sow by faith
We received the Holy Spirit by hearing the gospel with faith and every day we should stir faith in our hearts asking the Spirit to fill us and use us. Faith keeps us dependent on God, and gives the glory to God.
Sowing to the Spirit is closely tied to the fruit of the Spirit. Seeds lead to fruit, fruit contains seeds for more fruit. God wants to use us to sow love, patience, kindness, compassion, joy and so on in the lives of people around us. Sow that seed of kindness, that seed of love, and then believe God will use it. Let’s sow by faith.
- Let’s sow as God gives us opportunity
Sowing to the Spirit can happen anywhere you are. Verse 10 says, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially those of the household of faith. As we have opportunity. No one can do everything, but all of us can do something. We’re not responsible to sow where God hasn’t given us the opportunity to sow, but we are responsible (and privileged) to sow where God has given us opportunity. As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.
God isn’t concerned with the size of the opportunities we have – He’s concerned with what we do with the opportunities we do have. I suspect that one day we’re going to find that the people with the biggest harvests had the smallest fields. And some of those who had the biggest fields yield the smallest harvests.
When I was a new Christian I used to think, “boy if that famous person got saved, they could make a huge kingdom impact!” But I’ve seen famous people get saved and actually have very little kingdom impact. God isn’t impressed with the size of the opportunity, He cares about what we do with the opportunity we have. I suspect that one day we’ll find that the people who reflected Jesus the brightest did it in ways that never got much attention.
When unknown, uncelebrated, people in Jesus’ name faithfully sow seeds of love in a thousand little daily acts, they are sowing to the Spirit. Chapter six opens by telling us we should bear one another’s burdens. Helping take some of the weight of a burden or trial off someone else’s shoulders is a tangible way we can sow to the Spirit. When a frazzled mom who feels like she’s at the end of her rope takes a moment out of her busy day to reach out and encourage someone in need of an encouraging word, maybe a mom who’s even more frazzled than she is, in that moment she is sowing seeds of care to the Spirit. When someone who hates to be up front but loves to serve behind the scenes serves faithfully and without fanfare, they are sowing seeds to the Spirit.
Every Sunday teachers and assistants leave the service to sow seeds of God’s word into the hearts of our kids. Today our older kids are learning about Job and as they learn God’s word, seed is being sown. Those teachers are sowing to the Spirit.
The biggest harvests won’t be the result of some massive seed-sowing campaign, they will be the product of sowing faithfully a little seed at a time over a long period of time. We may sow for years and never see the harvest. But God promises as we sow to the Spirit, we will reap in due time.
- Let’s sow to reap a harvest of souls for Christ!
We’ve seen that what we reap from the Spirit is eternal life. I don’t think Paul means our having eternal life. We already have that through faith in Christ. He’s talking about sowing, he’s talking about reaping, he’s talking about a harvest. Seeds typically produce far more fruit than seeds sown. One seed might result in 10, 20, 30 x more fruit than the seed sown! The Spirit wants to use your life and your influence to bear fruit, to make an eternal difference in someone else’s life. To leave the imprint of Christ on someone’s life.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon. As he stepped onto the surface he famously said, “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” This historic event happened over 52 years ago but those first footsteps are still there undisturbed. And NASA estimates those first footprints will be there for a million years unless disturbed by a meteor because there is no wind, water or animals to disturb them. As we walk through life, we leave imprints on others lives that can last not only a lifetime but for eternity. When we keep in step with the Spirit and sow to Spirit, there’s no telling how the Spirit may use the imprint we leave to point them to Jesus.
- Let’s sow even when we grow weary
There’s a reason we are encouraged not to grow weary. Sowing at first can seem exciting but time has a way of wearying us. Time wears the luster off. The thrill is gone. The delay between sowing and reaping can make us think that nothing good is coming of our sowing. We grow discouraged.
Paul is with us, he understands that weariness, and he says, “let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not give up.”
That last line suggests that if we give up, we may not reap. Quitting can affect the harvest, or at least our reaping of that harvest. I don’t think Paul says that to lay a heavy guilt trip on us, he says it to encourage us, don’t give up. Don’t let weariness fill you, let the Spirit fill and refill you with His energy, love and power.
Don’t give up. Don’t grow weary. When we do grow weary, keep on sowing to the Spirit. Faithfulness is sowing when you don’t feel like it anymore. Jesus said one day he’ll reward the faithful servant with the words, “well done, good (they did good!) and faithful (they kept going!) servant.”
I really feel like the Lord wants to speak to someone who is discouraged with their life. You’re discouraged with some of the twists and turns your life has taken. You feel like you’re not making much of a difference. Maybe you feel like the Lord can’t use you. Sow those seeds. Don’t try to dig them up to see whether they’re growing or not. By faith keep sowing. Trust the Holy Spirit is using you to leave an imprint for Christ in someone’s life. And keep sowing. Keep sowing love. Compassion. Kindness. Patience.
Maybe someone else is looking at the harvest of flesh and feel so much regret. Barren fields that you can’t undo, you can’t un-sow. When Jesus bore the crown of thorns, it was a symbol of his identifying with and bearing the barren, dead harvest of our sin. The past is forgiven, under the blood, and you aren’t chained to it any longer. Confess your sin to God, plead the blood of Christ, and go forward. It is for freedom that Christ has set you free!
More in Holy Spirit
November 27, 2021Striving for the Work of the Spirit While Avoiding Weird Stuff
November 21, 2021The Gifts of the Spirit
November 13, 2021The Fruit of the Spirit