Life-Giving Goodness

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 3/21/2021

If you’ll apply what you hear today, this morning could very well mark a turning point in your life. You see, we look at our world, and all of us yearn for change. For that matter, we look in the mirror, we lay awake contemplating our life. We ponder our place in life, our relationships, our health & wellbeing, our families, our workplaces, our church communities. Oh, how we yearn for change!

I remember once sharing Jesus with some dear neighbors. I told this couple about the forgiveness they could have in Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to bring true, lasting change. That Sunday they showed up at Church and insisted upon being baptized. They lived near the church and I asked if they wanted to run home first to get a change of clothes, but no! They were eager to give their life to Christ and begin life anew in the Spirit. So right then and there we baptized them!

Not long after that, they became discouraged. They thought that if they got baptized everything in their life, marriage, would change instantaneously. The only thing that instantaneously changes when we give our life to Christ is our standing before God. God washes away our sins and clothes us with Christ’s garment of righteousness. But in terms of sanctification and transformation, we’ve only just begun! What I didn’t help that couple learn to do was to walk and keep in step with the Spirit. They got baptized, but kept walking in the flesh and in the world.

This morning I want to unpack what I consider to be, the single most important principle of life change. Let’s just get right to it. Galatians 6:7, “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap…” It’s so important that we understand the magnitude of what Paul is declaring here. Don’t be deceived. Don’t be misled. There is a principle of life transformation that is so powerful, God willingly stakes his reputation upon it. As sure as God is God. . . whatever a person sows he will also reap. Boom. There it is.

As we gather, Springtime is upon us. What’s sown in spring, is reaped in summer; what’s sown in summer, is reaped in the fall. All of creation operates according to this single, unchanging, immutable principle!

What’s interesting to contemplate is that this principle is constantly at play in our life and our world. There is a single moment of a single day that you aren’t sowing some “thing” in some “way.” Why is this? In Galatians 6:8 Paul says, “because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.” We can sow seeds just as easily unto death as eternal life. In Paul’s view, the life we have in large part is the results of the kinds of seeds we’ve been sowing. According to what a man sows, he reaps.

In Galatians 6:8-10, Paul mentions three areas of life where we sow seeds. First, we are to sow to the Spirit. In Paul’s mind our fleshly and spiritual nature are antithetical to one another. Galatians 6:8 says, “the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction; the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Earlier in Galatians 5:16-17, Paul writes, “I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.”

There are not fifty shades of the Spirit, or fifty shades of the flesh. There is a binary choice here, flesh or spirit. Galatians 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” For the Christian our daily choice is to take up our cross and follow Jesus. It’s to declare, “Not Today, Flesh!”

If you are dissatisfied, maybe disappointed, in your relationship with God maybe its time to sow something different in the relationship? It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”

We think in words. Every thought is constructed of words. Every time we meditate on God’s Word we’re sowing destiny-altering thoughts. Thoughts lead to actions. If we’re thinking only of pleasing ourselves, or others, we’re not servants of Christ. What are those actions that please God? What are those daily, and weekly habits, that build up our spiritual life? Habits could be things like: Engaging in Meditation, Bible Reading, Bible Study, Prayer, Praise, Worship, Communion, Small Group Life, Christian Fellowship.

Over in Ephesians 5 there is some great advice on Sowing in the Spirit. (1) There is the practice of imitation. Ephesians 5:1-2, “Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” (2) There is the practice of Worship, (3) the practice of Gratitude, (4) The Practice of Submission. Ephesians 5:18-20, “And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.”

Here is the principle. Anything sown to the Spirit strengthens the Spirit in our lives. Anything sown to the Flesh, strengthens the Flesh in our life. You didn’t get weak in the flesh, walking in the Spirit. You get weak in the flesh, walking in flesh!

Second, we are to sow to Goodness. In Galatians 6:9 Paul says, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” The Christian has the responsibility of sowing goodness in all directions, into all of life’s relationships. Think of it this way. Our relationship with God is stale and powerless why? Well, what seeds have we been sowing? Likewise, our relationships in the world are stale or even fractured why? It’s the seeds we sow!

· So, you are depressed. Nobody likes you. You have no friends. Nobody calls, nobody writes, nobody pays you any attention.

· So, your family is falling apart. Your spouse seems ambivalent. The kids are all off doing their own thing. The family dog doesn’t even come when called. There is no spark, no fire, no passion, no romance, no excitement, no communication, things are dead.

· You can look at your neighborhood. Maybe there is a crime wave, or problems. People are unfriendly, self-absorbed, total strangers, suspicious, reclusive.

· You can look at your workplace, your school, any circle of relationships.

· You can even look at groups or classes of people. Maybe you see great hostility between men and women. Maybe hostility between races—Jew or Gentile, White lives and Black lives and Brown lives or Asian Lives. Maybe you’ve been conditioned to see everything through a Marxist power lens—Slave or Free, Oppressor or Oppressed, Privileged or Unprivileged. Maybe you feel alienation between generations—Old or Young. How about alienation between nations? How about alienation between political affiliations, or what about religious affiliations?

If we want something different manifest in our relationships, we better get about sowing something better into these circles of relationships. If you think we need better race relations, would you welcome a white, black, brown, olive, or Asian person into your life? If you think every young person is a woke punk, have you tried to build cross-generational relationships? If you think all old white people are blatant racists, have you ever listened to their story?

What Paul is suggesting is that if we want peace, do we sow peace? If we want trust, do we sow trust? If we want love, do we sow love? If we want warmth, do we sow warmth?

Galatians 5:19-21 says, “Now the works of the flesh are obvious. . . [including] outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy . . . those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Hmm. If that’s what we’re sowing that’s what were reaping! Well, what would we much rather reap in relationships? How about Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.” You see, we no longer need to feel victimized by life’s relationships—because of God, through bold acts of sowing, we can cultivate social transformation!

Third, we are to sow to the Kingdom. Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.” When I read this verse some very obvious applications come to mind.

First, in Scripture, there is a distinction between “neighbors” and “family,” between “neighbors” and “brothers and sisters in Christ.” We have a particular obligation to love not just those inside the body of Christ (God’s Family), but also those outside the body of Christ (neighbors). And our love for neighbor is not superficial. We’re to love our neighbors as ourselves. So going back to point #2, there is no excuse for writing off our white/black/brown/democrat/republican/ Muslim/Hindu/Catholic/Protestant/Atheist/Rich/Poor neighbors…

Second, in Scripture, we do have a particular and profound obligation to love one another in the body. Within the body there are two types of people. There are sowers, who sow goodness into the body. But then there are often complainers, who point out faults and deficits in the body. If everyone in the church spent as much time sowing good as complaining about the bad, our churches would explode in growth!

Last, I just want to pull back and encourage you to reflect on these verses as a whole. Every single one of us has this Divine impulse to want to help people. We need to do far more for people than throw a bandaid on their problems. The greatest (MOST LOVING) thing we can do is help people SOW BETTER. This is the work of discipleship:

1. Help person sow in the Spirit, especially if they need God-sized miracles in life.

2. Help them sow in Goodness, especially if surrounded by fleshly or hostile people.

3. Help them sow in Kingdom, especially if they need a new family.

The truth is people need all three concurrently. Christ>Spirit>Favor>Family.

Scripture Verses

Galatians 2:20, 5:16-24, 6:7-10; Ephesians 5:1-2, 18-20

Worship Playlist

Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman

No Fear by Kari Jobe

Give Us Clean Hands by Passion

Study Questions

1. Have you considered that every day you are sowing seeds? What seeds have you sown today?

2. How do you feel knowing that someday a harvest is coming and what you’ve been sowing will be revealed?

3. How do we become relentless at doing good for others, especially believers?

4. What holds us back?

5. What encouragement do you find in Ephesians 2:8-10?

Apply It!