Galatians 6:6-10: Sowing and Reaping

Galatians 6:6‑10  •  17 min. read  •  grade level: 7
“But let the one being taught the Word, be having fellowship [or, sharing] with the one teaching, in all good things. Do not be misled [or, deceived], God is not scoffed at. For whatever a man may sow, that (very thing) also he shall reap. For the one sowing in the interests of his own flesh, shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one sowing in the interests of the Spirit, shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. But let us not lose heart in doing the right, for in its own time, not relaxing, we shall reap. So then, while we may have time [or, as we may have opportunity], let us labor (doing) the good towards all, but especially towards members of the household of the faith.” vss. 6-10.
V.5, which we considered in our last chapter, said: “Each one shall carry his own load.” It may be there is a very close connection between this verse and v.6, which we have quoted above. In 1 Cor. 16:1, 21Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1‑2) we read: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come” (1 Cor. 16:1-21Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1‑2)). So we may see that the Apostle had already taught the Galatian Christians the blessed truth of Christian giving, as he later taught the Corinthian Christians. But we find there is no commendation for the generosity of the Galatians as there was for the Corinthian assembly (2 Cor. 9:22For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. (2 Corinthians 9:2)), and for the assemblies in Macedonia. “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” 2 Cor. 8:1-41Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. (2 Corinthians 8:1‑4). In Rom. 15:26, 2726For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. 27It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. (Romans 15:26‑27) Paul tells us more of this collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem, and of how the Christians in Achaia, which would include Corinth, had joined with the Christians in Macedonia in sending these funds. But we never read of the Galatian Christians ever giving anything. The Galatians loved the law, and the law tells a man not to put his hand in his neighbor’s pocket to steal. But grace tells the Christian to use these hands to labor so that he not only may not steal, but, on the contrary, he may put his hand in his own pocket and give to those in need. Legal Christians are not generous Christians. It is grace, not law, that makes a man generous. A legal Christian can always find some good reason for not giving to his brother.
The Apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, knows these things well, and he knows that persons like the Galatians would be only too glad to use his exhortation, “each one shall carry his own load,” to provide an excuse not to share their good things with those who perhaps not only had need of them, but also to whom they should give even in the bonds of duty. Over and over again the Apostle has taught those led to Christ through his labors, that they are responsible to support those who labor for the Lord among them. See, for example, 1 Cor. 9:1414Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:14)“So hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” Or 1 Tim. 5:17, 1817Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. 18For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward. (1 Timothy 5:17‑18): “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.” The Apostle Paul himself sought to make it his boast that he did not accept this “reward,” but rather that he might “make the gospel of Christ without charge” (1 Cor. 9:1818What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:18)). “I seek not yours, but you” (2 Cor. 12:1414Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. (2 Corinthians 12:14)) he could say on another occasion.
But among the assemblies of the Galatians there was the very serious danger that the selfishness of legality would hinder them from providing for the needs of those who labored among them, teaching them the Word of God. So the Apostle writes: “Let the one being taught the Word, be having fellowship with the one teaching in all good things.” The word used for “teaching” and “begin taught” has the meaning of teaching by word of mouth, and so would suggest those men among themselves who were doing this work. Notice, they taught “the Word,” and not their ideas. It is most important for those who teach to teach the Word. Our thoughts have neither value nor power, but the Word has both; if we stick to the Word, there will surely be a harvest. In another verse or two we will read, “Whatever a man may sow, that very thing also he shall reap.” So let those who teach, teach the Word, and they may then be sure of a good harvest.
“Be having fellowship” really means “be sharing.” Some man has a good business or a good position, and is comfortably off, so that his wife and family have all their needs abundantly supplied. Share, says the Apostle, these good things with those who have given up their business or their position, in order to use their time and ability to teach the Word. This is God’s order and arrangement, and if the Lord’s people would only heed this exhortation, how good it would be both for themselves and for the Lord’s laborers. It is a very sad thing to see many Christians today living in good houses, with money for everything they need, and perhaps the Lord’s work is suffering for want of a share of this money that the Christians are using for themselves. Strange as it may seem, it is generally the poor, like those in Macedonia, who are the most generous givers.
Let us each remember that these things are not our own, and that the reckoning day is not far off, when we must give an account of how we have used these “good things” that the Lord has given to us.
It is possible that this word “be having fellowship” goes much further than merely sharing in the good things of this life, but that it goes on to every part of our lives, including spiritual things. Some persons use the word “to have fellowship with,” (1 Cor. 10:2020But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (1 Corinthians 10:20)) or to be “in fellowship,” as meaning those who break bread at the Lord’s Table. This may, however, be a wrong way to use this expression, for alas, there are those breaking bread who are not “in fellowship,” and there are those “in fellowship” who are not breaking bread. It is sweet indeed to the hearts of both teacher and taught, when they can truly enjoy together that precious heart fellowship, as well as sharing in temporal things.
If you would lay down this book and take your Bible and read 2 Cor. 9, you would find that the Apostle takes a whole chapter there for the subject of Christian giving. He tells how he could boast of the “forwardness” of the Corinthian Christians, and he compares this giving to sowing and reaping. In speaking of giving, he says: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:66But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6)). Now as he speaks of the same subject of giving to the Galatians (though notice he does not once use this word, or tell them plainly they are selfish and miserly), he goes on: “Do not be misled!” This is the literal meaning of what the Apostle says, but it has come to mean: “Do not be deceived! God is not scoffed at.” The word means to turn up our noses at God. The Apostle writes to the Galatians to share with their teachers, but as they listen to this command, Paul knows there are those who will turn up their noses and say, “Why should we listen to this man Paul? We have our new teachers from Jerusalem. Let us hear them.” It is not Paul you are turning up your noses at. Far from it. Paul is only God’s messenger, bringing you God’s message. It is at God you are turning up your noses, when you refuse to heed His Word: and do not be misled, do not be deceived; if you turn up your nose at God and His Word, the harvest for you will be very, very bitter.
“Do not be misled, God is not scoffed at. For whatever a man may sow, that very thing also he shall reap.” What solemn words are these. If a man sows rice, he reaps rice. If a man sows turnips, he reaps turnips. Day by day we are sowing— sowing what? We are sowing thoughts, words, deeds! What shall we reap? What will the harvest be?
There are three things the Apostle brings to our notice about sowing: What we sow: “Whatever a man soweth, that very thing he shall also reap.”
Where we sow: “The one sowing unto [or, in the interests of] the flesh... the one sowing unto [or, in the interests of] the Spirit.”
How we sow: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:66But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6)).
We have been reading of the fruit of the Spirit. Fruit comes to us “in its own time” (1 Tim. 2:66Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:6)) as the result of sowing. If we sow unto the Spirit, then the fruit that we reap will be the fruit of the Spirit. But if we sow to the flesh, the harvest that we will receive will be according to the “works of the flesh” (ch. 2:16). Notice also that the Word says: “The one sowing in the interests of his own flesh.” That extra word, “his own,” that the Spirit of God has added here, tells us more of the selfishness which we thought we could see in the previous verses. It is “my own flesh” that I have before me. It is “myself” I am thinking about, and thinking about myself always makes me selfish. That is the natural result of the law, because the law makes me think about myself.
There was an infidel who once said: “Most things in the Bible I do not believe, but one verse I am compelled to believe; it is, ‘Whatever a man soweth, that very thing he shall reap.’ I know this is true.”
Perhaps here the Spirit of God has the subject of giving chiefly before us; yet the sowing goes very much further than that. If I spend my time and my money on myself, the harvest will be the fruit of selfishness. Those who sow to the flesh by drinking or smoking or drugs will also reap a harvest, and a very bitter harvest it may be. These two harvests are set before us: corruption or eternal life. Reader, choose today: What, where, and how will you sow?
Perhaps we should add a word about these two harvests. “Corruption” is spoken of in the Scriptures as death and decay (Rom. 8:2121Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21); 1 Cor. 15:42, 5042So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: (1 Corinthians 15:42)
50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15:50)
), to which every child of Adam is subject. It is also used of the moral decay and wickedness in this world: “Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:44Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4)). (See also 2 Peter 2:1919While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. (2 Peter 2:19), “servants of corruption.”) In Col. 2:2222Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? (Colossians 2:22), the same word is translated “perish,” and in 2 Peter 2:1212But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; (2 Peter 2:12) it is used twice, once translated “destroyed,” and once “corruption.” We see that the harvest of sowing to the flesh is one of death and corruption for both body and soul.
We find that Scripture looks at eternal life in two ways: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting [or, eternal] life” (John 3:3636He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)). We have this eternal life now, and we may enjoy it now and we may know now that we have it. But the Scriptures also look at eternal life as that which we receive at the end of our journey when we reach home. Then we reap the harvest of sowing down here, and for the one who has sown to the Spirit, that harvest will be eternal life. We find it used in this way in Rom. 6:2222But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” Here is the “sowing to the Spirit” once again, and the fruit is holiness, and the final fruit, when we reach home, eternal life. But the next verse shows us eternal life in the other aspect: “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:2323For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)). We accept God’s gift now, and now we have eternal life. It is most important for us to remember that Scripture looks at eternal life in these two ways, or there will be many verses we cannot understand.
One thing more we must notice before we leave “the harvest”: we may always expect to reap more than we sow. We read in the gospels of those who reaped some “a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold” (Matt. 13:88But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. (Matthew 13:8)). This is true whether the seed be good or bad, and whether the ground be good or bad. Jacob deceived his old father and stole his brother’s birthright. That was bad sowing, but he did not expect the harvest he received. Laban deceived him about his wife, and he had to work another seven years in order to win her. Nor was this all the harvest. Laban changed his wages ten times in his efforts to cheat him. That was only part of the harvest. He had twenty years of bitter labor in Syria. Then his own sons deceived him about Joseph, and he spent twenty-two years in bitter sorrow, mourning him as dead. This was part of the harvest of his own sowing. David committed adultery with Bathsheba, but he never expected the harvest would come as it did; his own son defiled his sister. David murdered Bathsheba’s husband, but he never expected the harvest this brought; his son Amnon was murdered by his brother, his baby died, and his son Absalom was killed in battle, without the hope of ever seeing him again in the world to come. And finally Solomon the king puts his older brother to death for what was really conspiracy. Yes, reader, we reap more than we sow, and we reap that very thing we sow. These are most solemn thoughts, and should make every one of us “consider” our “ways.” Hag. 1:5, 75Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:5)
7Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:7)
. Even by a thought we may sow to the flesh. How many books, pictures and magazines in these days sow to the flesh, and will bring forth a harvest unto corruption. “Consider your ways!” (Hag. 1:77Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. (Haggai 1:7)).
I remember a child whose father gave her a little garden, and she sowed beans in it. She waited for a day or two to see the beans grow up, but she soon “lost heart,” and one morning I found her digging up the beans to see if they were growing. So the Apostle, well knowing our hearts, adds: “Let us not lose heart in doing the right.” It is a different word from the “good things” we read of in v.6. It is often translated “beautiful.” These are truly good things beautiful things, noble things, honorable things; these are the things every one of us may do every day. We call them little things very often; perhaps giving a drink of cold water to someone who is thirsty. But that deed will get its reward; it will have a harvest. Most of our lives are filled up with little things— often we think useless little things that are of little profit, but that have to be done— meals have to be cooked, dishes have to be washed, children have to be cared for, our business or our daily job has to be done, and often we long for something “bigger and better,” as we suppose, to do for our Lord. Brother, sister, these little, daily duties may be the good, the noble, the honorable thing, “the right thing” (Rom. 10:55For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. (Romans 10:5)) for you to be doing. The Lord says to you two things: Do not lose heart; do not relax. We first lose heart, it all seems to be so useless. Perhaps you teach a Sunday school class, but the children are not converted. Do not lose heart, do not relax; in its own time you shall reap. It is God’s own promise, and it must be true.
The word “relax” is what happens to a bow string if it becomes loose; and then the bow is useless. The bow is only useful while the string is tight. So if I relax in my work for the Lord, I become useless also; and remember in “its own time” (and that may be a long time, for seeds do not all grow quickly), we shall reap if we do not relax.
“So then, while we have time [or it may be translated, as we have opportunity, but the word ‘time’ is the same as in the sentence before], let us labor (doing) good towards all.” The word for “labor” makes us think of the hard work that is needed. And if we are to do good towards all, it does require hard work. You remember we saw in ch. 5:13 that we were to be slaves to one another in love. Here we see the hard work we are to do for one another. The word “towards all” may indicate our daily contact with others, when we have opportunity to speak a word, or give a tract or booklet. I know a very earnest Christian man who has meetings in his shop. He was first led towards Christ through a boy, only a child, who used to go to his shop to buy things, and often gave him a tract or spoke a word to him. He laughed at the boy, but he told me years afterward that this was what really made him come to Christ. And it is only as we have time! “But this I say, brethren, the time is short!” (1 Cor. 7:2929But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; (1 Corinthians 7:29)). Soon our opportunities will be gone. Soon it will be too late. We will not have the opportunities in heaven to do good towards all as we have now down here. And notice the word is to “all men,” saved and unsaved, as wide as God’s love to the world. (Compare John 3:1616For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16).) May God help us each to give heed to this urgent call: “So then, while we have time, let us labor doing good towards all.”
But there is one more little word added to that exhortation: “Especially towards the household of the faith.” How often we have had the word brothers in this little epistle. Now we have the whole household: brothers and sisters, father and mother, and little children. We find them all in 1 John 2. Here we find them again, with the command to labor, especially doing good towards these: the household of the faith. “The faith” is a term which tells us of the faith in Christ Jesus, and the household of faith includes every believer. May we remember that we all belong to the same household. Man may build walls, with sects and societies that shut out other believers, but in God’s eyes we all belong to the same household: the household of faith. In Eph. 2:1919Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (Ephesians 2:19) it is called “the household of God,” (Eph. 2:1919Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; (Ephesians 2:19)) and in Eph. 3:1515Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, (Ephesians 3:15) we read of “the family of God” (Job 32:22Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. (Job 32:2)). Let not our thoughts become narrow, to think of only one small part of that household, one group, one company in that household. May God help us always to have hearts that take in every blood-bought child of God, and may He give us grace to labor for them all, doing good (the same word as in v.6) towards them all, and towards all men.