If you’ve ever driven through parts of the south during the fall, you may have noticed a large cotton bale sitting in the middle of a field waiting to be loaded and transported to the mill—a process that many of your clothes have already gone through. One thing is for sure: these bales are always sitting in cotton fields. You can’t grow cotton where you’ve planted tomatoes.
The law of sowing and reaping has both natural and supernatural consequences. Sometimes the results are desirable; sometimes painful. If we sow good things, we reap good things. Sow bad things and reap the same.
7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will 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.” Galatians 6:7-8 (NASB)
The contrast here is essentially between Spirit and self. Either we think and act according to the things of God’s Holy Spirit or we think and act according to the things of our old selfish and fallen nature (the flesh).
Why Paul’s opening comment, “Do not be deceived . . .”? Because we easily convince ourselves that sowing to the self is the best policy. After all, there are certain benefits to looking out for number one! The short-term benefits may indeed be desirable, but the long-term fruit of selfish pride is never good. The bottom line is that we reap what we sow—not what we wish to reap or profess to reap. This is the law of sowing and reaping. Life always works this way—no matter how strongly we may hope or believe otherwise.
When we talk about dissension, it’s important to understand that majority of almost all conflict comes back to self in one way or another. If two people are in conflict, one or both of them is probably sowing to the flesh. Sometimes the self-centered behavior is obvious. Other times it’s much more subtle. Either way, we reap what we sow.
Recently I said something stupid that hurt a loved one. Did I intend to bring pain to the individual? By no means—it was the last thing on my mind! The problem was that I was frustrated about my circumstances and so my thoughts were centered around me and what I wanted. The hurtful words that came out of my mouth were simply the expression of a thought life being sown to the flesh. The resulting conflict was by no means pleasant, but I did humble myself to ask forgiveness and God graciously restored the situation.
One of the primary problems in all of this is that we simply don’t recognize the difference between a Spirit-seed and a flesh-seed. Let’s be deliberate in the coming weeks to pray for God’s wisdom as we unpack a deeper understanding of the selfish roots that poison our relationships!
13 “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:13-18 (NASB)