Sowing to the Spirit | Galatians 6:6-10
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 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. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:6-10 | ESV
As we overhear Paul telling Timothy to “practice these things so everyone can see your progress,” he literally takes us to the gym with his picture of “training in righteousness.” Our “progress” in this case would be measured in weight loss and muscle expansion, usually. That’s one image. There’s another picture we can consider when it comes to spiritual practices. We can let Paul take us out to the field and garden as he tells the Galatians, “A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap corruption; the one who sows to please the Spirit, will reap eternal life.” Engaging in spiritual practices is “sowing to the Spirit.” It’s doing what we can do (open our hand and scatter seed on the ground) so that we may experience what we cannot do (grow a harvest – the earth does that!). Such “sowing to the Spirit” is rooted in the soil of grace, in the true gospel of Christ that sets us free. When religious compulsion or guilt drives spiritual practices, they cease being spiritual and become oppressive. Oppressive to ourselves because we become filled either with pride or discouragement, depending on how well the practice is going; oppressive to others because when a practice is really working for us we start laying it on others as what they must do to really be in tune with God, to really grow in Christ. Such oppressive practices do not bring life, only death. True spiritual practices are unencumbered by such guilt and compulsion. Like the farmer in Jesus’ parable who scatters seed on the ground, we are able to engage in the practice – to scatter the seed – and then go to bed (see Mark 4:26-29).
Which image of spiritual practices works best for you: going to the gym or working in the garden? Why?
Lord, show me how you would have me sow to the Spirit in this season of my life with you. What seeds would you have me scatter? What spiritual practices would you have me embrace?
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.