Sixth, a spiritual person sows in the Spirit and does not tire of doing good.
6 The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher. 7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, 8 because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 9 So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, we must work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith.
Sowing and reaping is a pretty straightforward principle. If you are spiritual, you will be sowing in the Spirit and you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. If you are fleshly, you will be sowing in the flesh and you will reap corruption. What is evidence that you are sowing in the Spirit continuously? v9 – you don’t just do good once, you don’t just love someone by carrying their burdens here and there when you feel like it or when it’s convenient for you. Or during those brief moments when you are highly motivated. You do good to others again and again without getting tired.
How do you know if you are serving the Lord out of your flesh, out of your own zeal and effort and not the Spirit? It’s easy to tell. You get tired. You burn out. You lose motivation. Eventually, you stop doing good. If the Spirit is at work in your life and you are sowing, meaning, you are continuously depending on the Spirit moment by moment, the Spirit will give you supernatural energy and supernatural capacity to do good for others. You will work for the good of all, v10, and you will be especially good toward those in the church, those who belong to the household of faith.
If you stop there, you might get a nice high level principle to do good to all, but you might miss Paul’s intention for this section. It’s easy to gloss over v6-7 and not notice that Paul is actually addressing a practical concern.
6 The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher. 7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap…
Paul applies this spiritual principle of sowing and reaping with the congregation and their attitude toward the teaching ministry. The one who is taught the message, meaning, the congregation who listens to the preaching of the Word must share all their good things with the teacher. What are good things? It’s money. The very next verse, v7–
7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap…
Apparently, the Galatians were deceived. They thought they were sowing in the Spirit, yet it sounds like they were not providing financially for the their teacher and instead they were using their money for themselves. If they were not sharing good things, i.e. money, with their teacher and instead they were keeping good things, i.e. money, for themselves, they are deceived and they are actually mocking God. Whatever a man sows he will also reap. Their attitude toward money reveals a lack of respect for the teaching ministry and a lack of respect for the Word of God and ultimately, a lack of respect for God because God reveals himself primarily through the spoken and written word.
You put money in things that you value. You put money in a home because where you live is important to you. You put money in education because it’s something you hold in high regard. You say certain things are important and then the money follows. You value certain things and you put your money where your mouth is.
The fact that the Galatians were not sharing money with their teacher shows that they placed a low value on the teaching ministry. Their attitude was, teaching, what’s the big deal? Anyone can go up there and share their opinion. The guy is boring. He rambles. He’s disorganized and unengaging. I could do it. Why should I pay a teacher with my hard earned money?
This critique is especially true in our context. I can admit, I’m not the most gifted speaker. And nowadays, you can just go on youtube and listen to several dozen amazing speakers for free. Why should I go to church and pay someone who doesn’t have half the talent as these big name guys and I am expected to pay for this lame guy to teach me? The teacher should support himself and teach on the side as a volunteer. Pastors should not be paid positions. Tell him to get a job like the rest of us. Let the pastor feel the burden of what I go through as a member of the congregation. Things like sitting through a morning commute and getting yelled at by your boss and tight deadlines and short vacations.
I can fully sympathize with a lot of these sentiments because for the majority of my Christian life, I was an unpaid volunteer at the church. I was a bi-vocational minister. I supported myself financially through my job in IT and I served the church for free because my passion was God and ministry and so it’s like I had 2 full-time jobs. Now that I’ve been on the other side and entered full-time ministry, my appreciation for those who devote themselves to the teaching ministry has grown immensely. You can’t just wing it up here. I can’t do a Saturday late night special on a regular basis and hope to deliver a sermon that impacts and feeds people.
I can be blessed by a video sermon by John Piper, but I met him for like 30 seconds at a conference. He doesn’t know me, I know only about him, he doesn’t understand my situation. It takes work to exegete a text and study it and seek proper interpretation. But that’s only half the battle. The other half is exegeting the congregation. Knowing the congregation. Interpreting the congregation and taking the Word of God and applying it in a way that helps edify this particular congregation.
I’m thankful to Jackie because she has been the primary breadwinner for the past few years and because she works, I can receive less from the church and free up more funds to feed hungry college students every Sunday and support missions and outreach in the community and future church plants, Lord willing. But it would be wrong if Jackie lost her job and we had 100 working young adults. If there were 100 committed members who were working adults and I couldn’t work full-time to earn a living because I was devoting myself to study God’s Word and our family could not provide food on the table and we ended up on the streets and everyone else was going on vacations and buying nice cars, that would be wrong. That would be an example of self-deception. You can say all you want that you are sowing in the Spirit, but many times, your attitude toward money affirms the complete opposite. That you are sowing in the flesh.
Thankfully, our church is not that church. I am thankful to be surrounded by generous supporters. So I am speaking hypothetically. But if our church had people in the congregation who were well-off financially, but they were unwilling to support the primary teacher of the Word of God, Paul would look at us and say, you are mocking God. Money is actually a secondary matter. He is addressing a more serious issue of our heart. What’s most offensive is their lack of appreciation for what it takes teach the Word of God.
What is your attitude toward your spiritual teachers? More importantly, what is your attitude toward the Word of God and the God who reveals himself primarily through the Word? Did you come here to service this afternoon expecting to hear the voice of God?
If you are sowing in the Spirit, you will not tire in doing good to others. In addition, how you use your money is a visible reflection of whether you are sowing invisibly in the Spirit or the flesh. In this case, whether you share money with the spiritual teachers in your life because you want to free up their time and you don’t want them to have to work 2 or 3 part-time jobs to make ends meet because you understand what preaching preparation entails. A person who puts his money where his mouth is, that kind of sowing will reap eternal life.
Quick recap. What does it mean to be spiritual?
1) A spiritual person is Spirit-filled of full of the fruit of the Spirit
2) Restores others with a gentle spirit
3) Carries the burdens of others and in so doing fulfills the law of Christ
4) Considers himself nothing
5) Doesn’t compare with others to elevate himself
6) Sows in the Spirit and does not tire of doing good, even in concrete areas like finances
And finally, a spiritual person does not boast in the flesh but instead boasts only in the cross.
11 Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting. 12 Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised—but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves; however, they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh.
A fleshly person boasts in fleshly things. The false teachers at Galatia boasted that the members of their church were literally making adjustments to their flesh and getting circumcised. You can apply this generally as a leader boasting because he can mobilize a church to follow a certain tradition or a certain practice and the sheer number of people following their program can cause a leader to boast in himself. Paul says, when they do so, they are actually boasting in their flesh. v12 – religious leaders love it when they make a good impression in their flesh. They live for impressions, they live for respect and admiration of others. And with the force of their personality, they can compel others to follow their lead in things that ultimately boost their ego.
In contrast, v14–
14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world.
What does it mean when Paul says he only boasts in the cross? If you understand this point, everything that we just talked about will come together. Paul knew how great salvation was. The cross on which our Savior died to become sin for us, to take upon himself the burden of the sins of the world, your sins and mine, to die as a substitute so that we might be forgiven and have eternal life. Paul knew the greatest of the gospel. He knew that he didn’t deserve anything except the wrath of God and death. We were all enemies of God. We all rejected God and wanted nothing to do with Him. But God in his mercy pursued you and me and he saved us. He is pursuing you right now. That’s why you are here today.
This means, we don’t deserve anything except death and hell, but the cross not only saves us and puts us on a different path toward eternal life, but the cross gives us a new perspective. And the new perspective is this–every good thing in life is bonus. Every good thing is the icing on top. It’s just gravy. Your health, your riches, your family, your job, living in a great country like America with all the opportunities–for the believer, we know we don’t deserve any of these things and God would be perfectly justified to take it all away in an instant. Even the breath in our lungs is a gift from God. Therefore, in addition to the supreme blessing of salvation, every secondary blessing is only possible because of the cross.
We can give thanks for all the good things that happen in our lives. But Paul knew the secret of spirituality. A spiritual person understands how to connect the dots. All blessings are only possible because of the cross. The cross opened the door to save us eternally and to add as bonus 1000 other things we often take for granted. May all of our thanksgiving ultimately lead you and me back to Jesus who died on a cross for your sins and mine, though we don’t deserve it one bit. Then, truly, we can boast in only one thing–the cross of Jesus. If you hold onto this truth, you will be spiritual, you will be Spirit-filled, and you life will display the fruit of the Spirit for the glory of God.