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Sowing, reaping, and the mercy of God

June 12, 2012 by Eric Stillman 0 comments

This past Sunday, I spent a good portion of my sermon looking at Galatians 6:7-9, where Paul outlines the law of sowing and reaping. As he writes, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” As I prepared to preach on this passage, I focused mainly on the “sowing” part, challenging everyone to sow to please the Spirit instead of the sinful nature.

This morning, however, I had the privilege of speaking to thirty residents of the Glastonbury Health Care Center. Average age: 90. As I prepared to speak to them on the same passage, I realized that most of them had probably already done 99% of the sowing that they were going to do, and were now squarely in the reaping phase of their life. I imagined what it most be like to be 90 and looking back on a life full of good and bad decisions. For some of them, they were probably reaping the benefits of a life of love, service, and wise decisions. For others, they were probably reaping the opposite, experiencing the guilt and heartache of a life of poor decisions and broken relationships.

And so, I was able to speak a little more to the wonderful reality that Paul communicates in Galatians, that we are not the sum of what we have sown, that our salvation depends not on our works but on faith in Jesus Christ. Yes, we can not escape the law of sowing and reaping, but thank God that because of Jesus Christ, God does not treat us solely on the basis of what we have or have not done. Instead, as Paul puts it in Romans 8:1-2, “therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” While we can not escape the consequences of what we have sown in this life, in Christ there is forgiveness of sins, freedom from shame and guilt, and never any condemnation. That is the good news of the gospel. God can not be mocked, as Paul put it, but He is full of mercy and forgiveness towards those who turn to Him.

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