PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
(Illustration) Years ago, a mother and daughter were planting a flower garden. The mother carefully planted the seeds in a neatly configured pattern until the phone rang. As she ran inside to answer it, her young daughter carefully continued the process of burying the seeds. That is, until she spilled the tray of seeds everywhere! Fearing how her mother might respond to her accident, she quickly covered the seeds with dirt and ended the process as if nothing had happened. When the mother returned to the garden she could hardly believe how quickly her daughter had finished the task. “Did you follow my directions?” asked her mom. “Oh yes,” she responded. I planted all the seeds exactly like you did.” But when Spring arrived, it flourished with a contrary answer!
The Bible sets forth an irrevocable law that we cannot ignore. It doesn’t matter if you’re nine or ninety-nine. That law is found in our text in Galatians 6 that says, “whatever is sown is reaped!” You’ve heard the adage, “If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it!” That’s a good faith-building maxim, but, there are times when God’s Word says it and that settles it regardless of your belief system! And this irrepressible law of reciprocity is one such case. It operates whichever direction you turn.
Since this principle can never be outsmarted or overruled we should learn how to live in such a way to make it work for our advantage. And it can work for our advantage. The law of sowing and reaping doesn’t just operate to warn or correct us it operates in many positive ways.
(Transition) That means we can and should learn how to implement the law of reciprocity for our benefit. That’s what I want to spend the majority of our time investigating in this message—how to implement the law of sowing and reaping positively. As we’ll discover in point one, To positively incorporate the law of reciprocity we must sow righteous seeds.
I. To Positively Incorporate the Law of Reciprocity You Must Sow Righteous Seeds
Everybody constantly gives. Whether it’s voluntarily or compulsory, properly or improperly, everyone gives; the seed planting process never ends. The art to mastering life involves what type of seed we will plant.
Listen to our text once again. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (8) 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” (Galatians 6:7-8).
That Scripture is both wonderful and dreadful! When you apply the law of reciprocity positively it’s beneficial; when you apply it negatively it’s detrimental. What’s really frightening is, as free moral agents, God often lets us sow seeds without interfering:
- The Lord warned Adam and Eve against partaking of the Tree of Knowledge. And when they dared to ignore His admonition He didn’t prevail upon their actions.
The Lord let Moses disobediently strike the rock when He commanded Moses to speak to it. Consequently, Moses didn’t enter Canaan.
The Lord didn’t prevent King Saul from offering the Prophet’s sacrifice. And Saul’s disobedience cost him his kingship.
He let David disobediently transported the Ark of the Covenant. And a priest was struck dead trying to steady the falling Ark.
(Example) God doesn’t always intrude upon our actions, which are tantamount to “planting,” but He does order the consequences of our actions. You can leap from a sixty story skyscraper and halfway down ask God’s forgiveness. You may get pardon, but you won’t get a parachute. The law of gravity takes over.
When we understand the Law of Reciprocity is fixed and non-negotiable, we have to determine something. And since it can’t be altered, our recourse should be simple. That is, we should employ the law of sowing and reaping in a positive manner. We should seek to plant seeds that will produce a harvest of blessing. That’s why God said in Hosea 10:12, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love” (NIV).
Sometime back Pastor Jack Hayford shared some valuable insight about giving. He explained five ways we can give: Hayford said we should “give up, give in, give over, give to, and forgive.” (The Key To Everything, Jack Hayford, Creation House, 1993, page 29.) I’ll deal with each momentarily, but the essence of that quote is this: “Giving is the secret to living”! It’s the key to living the “abundant life” of which Jesus spoke. Let me repeat that statement once more: “Giving is the secret to living.”
But here’s our fear. We think obeying God’s command to give means reducing our tangible worth, diminishing our social welfare, and in short, possessing less in life. Nothing could stray further from God’s revelation. Let me illustrate how giving enriches us:
- When we give up pride and self-centeredness for Christ’s sake we become more like Him. And this is what we’re after, because the end result of Christianity is to form us into Christ’s image!When we give in to God and accept His ways we receive He blesses us with His incomparable plan.
When we give over to God and let Him work in our behalf we receive His delivering, sea-splitting, fire-quenching, mountain-moving intervention.
When we give to God’s purposes, like the boy with five loaves and two fish, we receive His blessing multiplied back many-fold.
And when we forgive others of their offenses God returns His unconditional forgiveness toward us. There are times to forgive and release animosity or a festering grudge or the anger that’s been seething within.
(Transition) When we sow seeds of righteousness two things occur. One, we establish Christ’s Lordship in our life and, two, we increase our capacity to receive.
II. Sowing Increases Our Capacity to Receive
God’s command to give isn’t designed to strip away our resources. And that’s precisely what Satan wants us misunderstanding. Everything about Satan’s strategy aims at usurping Christ’s lordship and limiting your capacity to receive from God’s bounty. That was his intention in the Garden of Eden.
God told Adam and Eve they could eat anything they wanted except from the tree of “the knowledge of good and evil.” Think about it. God wasn’t depriving them of prosperity. The entire world was theirs. The core issue was this. God wanted Adam and Eve understanding they were answerable to Him and recognize His supremacy over all creation. And all they had to do was treat one tree as sacrosanct and untouchable! If they submitted to His command they would govern the rest of the world. That’s a pretty good tradeoff!
This is not some obsolete principle that applied to Adam and Eve; it’s a powerful and eternal principle that applies to everyone here. God wants people to recognize His sovereignty and lordship. He wants them to understand certain boundaries must not be crossed!
- There are “thou shall nots” to be observed.
There are dead-end and even deathly roads of this world that should be avoided.
There are destructive behavioral traits that should not be part of our character.
And when people persist in breaking Scripture’s “thou shall nots,” it only leads to ruin! There is never a pleasant surprise or good ending when we live outside the boundaries God has placed for us.
God doesn’t set boundaries to suppress us into a place of misery. His commandments always have a two-fold purpose. They teach us to recognize His lordship and they bring us into a place to receive His blessings. In fact, Jesus wants us to understand that our sowing enlarges our capacity to receive! The harvest of one seed is always many times greater than the seed.
There’s a message God wants to get across when He encourages us to sow seeds of righteousness. It’s this: God’s blessings are often returned in direct proportion to your sowing. That’s what Jesus said in Luke 6:38, “by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Frugal sowing produces a frugal harvest. Abundant sowing produces an abundant harvest.
Maybe you’ve been wondering when I would get to this upcoming familiar passage of Scripture. Well, let’s turn to Malachi 3 and read:
If you interpret that from a legalistic, ”God just wants your money” perspective you’ll miss God’s objective. God used Malachi to convey that Israel’s giving would achieve two objectives: (1) Their giving would establish His lordship; and (2) their giving would expand their capacity to receive.
Let me offer you an alternative view of Malachi 3, when God says: “you have robbed Me by withholding your tithes and offerings.” Like those holy, forbidden-to-touch trees in the Garden of Eden, there’s a tenth of your earning that is “holy” and belongs strictly to God. We shouldn’t touch it! When we neglect His command to share our resources, we repudiate His lordship and accept the lie that says, “You can’t survive without keeping everything.” But it goes beyond that perspective too: When we squander our tithes and offerings it not only repudiates God’s lordship it robs Him of the opportunity of tangibly blessing us.
Look at verse ten again. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. (11) I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. (12) Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land.”
When God asks for your tithes and offerings in this passage He’s begging you not to rob Him of the privilege to rebuke the devourer, supply a bumper crop, and manifest His blessing evident enough for others to see! Again, our giving enlarges our capacity to receive! And this leads us to another aspect of the law of reciprocity. We should plant, sow, and give with the goal of reaping! Perhaps that sounds carnal but give me an opportunity to explain because I’m not trying to reduce one of God’s principles to a “get rich quick” scheme.
(Example) Every farmer has three intentions when he plants. First, he anticipates a harvest. (Plowing and planting is difficult work and the farmer wants his labors rewarded.) Second, he anticipates a specific type of harvest. (If he wants corn he plants corn seed; if wants wheat he plants wheat seed, etc.) And third, he anticipates a specific size harvest. And the magnitude of the harvest abounds in proportion to the amount of seed that’s planted.
So in short, the key to farmers reaping their harvest depends on (1) planting, (2) planting a specific type seed, and (3) planting the correct measure of seed. And there is one overarching expectation that attains to each stage of this farming process. The farmer never stops believing his labors will be rewarded. From beginning to end he anticipates a harvest.
And that’s how we should live! We should always be ready to receive God’s blessing when we obey His Word and sow our time, talents, or service into His Kingdom. It is appropriate to expect God to reward your sowing!
(Example) Have you ever notice how God measures our giving to Him with His giving toward us in Luke 6:38? Jesus talked about us giving only once but He mentioned us receiving from Him four times. Here’s what Jesus said. “Give [that’s the one time He spoke of our giving to Him] and it will be given to you. A  good measure,  pressed down,  shaken together and  running over, will be poured into you lap.”
You see, it’s alright to release your faith to receive what God promises! It’s not being humble to reject what God promises to do in response to your sowing. God wants to honor our obedience toward Him because our obedience honors His name.
(Transition) Third, let’s mention the inexorable nature of sowing and reaping. In other words, as dogmatically as the apostle Paul could state it he said in our text, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (8) 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” (GAL 6:7-8).
III. The Inexorable Nature Of Sowing And Reaping
God never plays favorites with the law of sowing and reaping. Nobody is special enough to elude its dreadful consequences. And that’s why we should carefully choose which type seeds we will plant.
(Example) Awhile back excavators discovered seeds, thousands of years old, in Egypt’s mummy tombs. And when they were planted, even after thousands of years, they germinated!
Please hear me! We must not accept the false and fatal notion that insists life is unaffected by our actions or behavior. Don’t dare adopt this philosophy! The Bible clearly describes the consequences to man’s actions. Unfortunately, America is suffering the repercussions of ignoring Biblical principles that once safeguarded our future. For centuries, America has disobeyed the precepts of Scripture, “sown to the wind,” and now we are reaping the whirlwind.
(Quote) Listen to this quote from Jim Morrison, a Presidential advisor of the Clinton administration. “I have always been attracted to those ideas that were about revolt against authority . . . I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, chaos—especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seem to me to be the road to freedom.” (The Things That Matter Most, Cal Thomas, Harper Collins/Zondervan, 1993, page 6.)
No wonder America is in the shape it’s in. And if God wouldn’t let His chosen people, Israel, escape its consequences of sowing to the wind, He won’t permit America to escape. I know this country has a great legacy. No nation has eclipsed America’s efforts for spreading the Gospel. No nation has done more to alleviate the pain of the poor and weak. But the testimony of Scripture clearly chronicles the consequences of violating God’s commands.
- Noah’s generation was destroyed by a flood.
Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire.
The Canaanites, Babylon, and Jerusalem are all reminders of the comeback effect.
(Example) There are irrevocable consequences to our actions. Just think back to the “radical ‘60’s” when we dismissed conventional Judeo-Christian values and enshrined social anarchy and free thinking. Has America suffered any consequences to the concepts of “free love,” rampant drug use, and aborting 1.5 million babies annually? Absolutely! Today our country stands more divided than a time since the civil war. We witness unbridled spread of sexual diseases and 20,000 people murdered annually. Politics is racially charged and morally divisive!
(Example) Remember: no nation, including Israel, have ever outwitted the law of reciprocity! Think about the sacred place the Hebrew Temple held with Israel. David had intricately plotted the Temple’s architecture by the Spirit’s inspiration (1 Chronicles 28:11) and then contributed over a billion dollars toward its construction. It contained hundreds of thousands of pounds of gold and silver. At one point, it housed the glory of God and there was never a monument more sacred to God than this Temple and its furnishings. Yet Jesus said the consequences of Israel’s rebellion would result in its total destruction. And in 70 A.D. Titus, the Roman emperor, attacked Jerusalem, torched the Temple, and completely leveled it—not leaving “one stone upon another,” thus, fulfilling Christ’s words.
I don’t like to admit it; no, I hate to admit it! But America’s day of reckoning is about to emerge. We will suffer for sowing the seeds of abortion, social deviance, and wanton fiscal spending. And I shudder to consider those consequences! America needs God.
As I close this message, I want to exhort this local body. I’m seriously concerned about today’s Church. I’m thankful for the move of God that is taking place in many American congregations, but I’m profoundly concerned about the general condition of the Church. That’s because many within the Church assume they are exempt from reaping what they’ve sown. They wrongly assume the grace of God will overlook the consequences to their actions.
You must understand that the Bible ordains a standard for Christians to practice. As we obey God’s precepts God’s name will be honored and we will be blessed. But when we violate His commands, as surely as the sun rises, we will face the consequences of our actions.