II. We Reap the Same Kind As We Sow
For those of you who are new to this series, we have been seeing so far that it is very Biblical to pray for prosperity in each other’s lives whether physically, socially, financially, reproductively or any other area of life. This is part of the Shalom which we speak to each other and which Scripture says we must never speak to a false teacher. The theme verse for this series is John’s statement in 3 John 2, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, even as your soul prospers. By the end of this series I hope you have that prayer memorized. In our first sermon we looked at seven characteristics of prosperity that honors God. And I gave a lot of Scriptures which we can hang our faith upon.
Last week we started to look at the eight laws of harvest mentioned in this passage. We saw that these laws are universal and apply to evangelism, counseling, finances and virtually everything in life. And we spent most of our time on law number 1 – that we reap only where there has been sowing. We cannot expect a harvest without it. And so we looked at other Scriptures which tell us how to sow faithfully as stewards. Let me quickly list those ten principles for you.
- Don’t eat all your crop — Scrimp and save
- Watch your timing — Don’t follow the crowd
- Plan your investments but don’t overplan
- Know your fields
- Only plant when the fields are ready
- Don’t put all your hope in one crop — Diversify
- Plant something
- Monitor your investment
- Don’t plant or eat the firstfruits or the tithe
- Trust God. Don’t let fear of risk keep you from investing.
II. We Reap The Same Kind As We Sow
(vs. 7,8 “whatever...that” “flesh...Spirit”; cf. John 3:6-7; Gal. 6:7-8; Job. 4:8; Prov. 26:27; Psalm 7:15-16; James 3:18)
Today we get to the second law of harvest which is that we reap the same kind as we sow. Paul says in verse 7, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. And the first thing we see about this law is that it really works. This is a universal principle. He says, “whatever.” . Ridderbos in commenting on the “whatever” says, – “it holds for everybody, and everything he does.” That’s no exaggeration. Let’s take a look under four subpoints.
This law really works (“whatever”)
This law was set in motion at creation
This law was set in motion at the time of creation. It’s a part of the very created order. One of the things that you see in Genesis 1 is not only God’s repeated command that things multiply according to their kind, or after its kind, but a declarative statement that this is the way things are. This command is given with respect to the grass, seed plants and trees in verses 11-12. God again declares that sea creatures and birds will produce after their kind in verse 21. The same is said of land creatures in verses 24-25. And so this is a law that is imbedded right into the creation by God’s decree. It doesn’t matter how you mix corn and squash seeds, or how you label the packages, the seed will produce only after its kind. It ignores labeling or the desires of men. And that’s why we call it a law.
This law continued applying in the sinful realm.
But this law also continued to apply after the fall when sin was introduced and thorns and thistles were introduced. Romans 5:12 says, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men… There are no exceptions. All men inherit Adam’s sin nature and the death that came with it. Romans 5:18 says, through one man’s offense judgment came to all men… There are no exceptions. As Eliphaz said, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. (Job. 4:8). So this law was not overturned by the fall.
This law continues under redemption
Nor was it overturned by redemption. Genesis 3:15 shows that the same law applies under redemption or in salvation. Though this predicted salvation would reverse the effects of sin, it still ensured that like would produce like. As Jesus told told Nichodemus**, that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.** An unbeliever can contribute nothing to his salvation. It is the Spirit alone that can bring spiritual life. But Galatians 6 indicates that even after we are saved we find that the flesh produces flesh and the Spirit produces spirit. This law cannot be broken even though we are saved. Like produces like. You will always harvest the same thing that was sown. And that’s why it is so important that we think through what kind of seed we are planting moment by moment and day by day. John 6:63 says, It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. You can’t get anything of spiritual worth from your flesh. And yet how often do we seek to contribute to God’s kingdom merely from our own resources? Scripture indicates that the kind of sowing of (for example) money into the kingdom that will really count and that will be prospered is giving that is done in faith, for God’s glory, motivated by love and seeking His kingdom. If we just give so that others will see us or because it is expected of us, there won’t be a harvest. It’s got to be sown to the Spirit. We may read a book without any sense of need for the Spirit’s discernment. That’s sowing to the flesh. We may go on a trip without any prayer for the Spirit’s blessing. That’s sowing to the flesh. You may have brains, but apart from God’s Spirit, your brains will benefit only the flesh, and not the kingdom. You may expend great efforts in church and in the community, but if you are not seeking to glorify God by the power of the Spirit, it will only be hay, wood and stubble monuments that will be burned up at the Second Coming. How many of us will stand at the second coming sadly watching most of our life go up in flames because we have been laboring to sow seeds into the field of the flesh (in otherwords by the strength of the flesh) rather than sowing to the Spirit? Paul says, For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. I Corinthians 3 is a sobering commentary on that. In fact, why don’t you turn with me to 1 Corinthians 3. Paul merges two metaphores in this passage – that of planting and that of building, but they both teach the same lesson. 1 Corinthians 3:5-15.
1Cor. 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?
1Cor. 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. [Remember that we saw that we have responsibilities in the planting and harvesting department, but only God can give the increase. Only He can cause us to prosper. He goes on in verse 7]
1Cor. 3:7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
1Cor. 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
1Cor. 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.
1Cor. 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it.
1Cor. 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1Cor. 3:12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
1Cor. 3:13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
1Cor. 3:14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
1Cor. 3:15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
That’s exactly what Paul is saying in Galatians 6:8. Only what’s sown to the Spirit will last. Everything else will eventually rot.
It works for money, body, etc.
So under this first principle that it is universal – that it really works we have seen that it worked from the time of creation, it continued to work after the fall and curse of God, it continues to work under redemption, and even forgiveness does not do away with the harvest. But lastly, it applies to everything we do. In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul applies it to a pastor sowing seed into the lives of his people. Galatians 6:6 applies this law to the people sowing good things into the life of the pastor. Galatians 6:10 applies it to mercy ministries within the church and outside the church. Hosea 10:12 says, Sow for yourselves righteousness… till He comes and rains righteousness on you. Matthew 13 applies this law to sowing the word in verses 1-23 and then applies it to allowing unbelieving members in the congregation in verses 24-30. Proverbs 26:27 says that when you are mean to others, meanness will come back to bite you. Psalm 7:15 says that when you are treacherous with others, eventually others will be treacherous with you. Verse 16 says that violence will breed violence. Christ said he who lives by the sword will die by the sword. James 3:18 says on the other hand, Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. In otherwords, the only way we will have peace is if we are sowing peace. There are numerous passages which indicate that this law is an absolute law applied to absolutely everything. That is even true in the riches we lay up in heaven – the jump start (if you will) for our eternal responsibilities when we get to heaven. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul insists that even with our bodies, there is just as much of a tangible relationship between the new body that we get and the old one. And he illustrates that by likening the difference between old body and new body to the difference between a seed planted and the harvest that grows. Yes there is a difference. The harvest is far more glorious and full than what was planted. But there is a relationship. You reap the same kind as you sowed. Hopefully I have not done overkill. I just want to demonstrate that his principle really does work all the time if we only have eyes to look.
Our tendency is to be deceived (“do not be deceived”)
Now back to Galatians 6, here’s one of the problems. This is the second major point. Here’s one of the problem. We tend to be deceived about this very law. We know it works in the natural realm, but notice the prefacing words in verse 7: Do not be deceived… Paul knows us. He knows our self-deception. One of the family traits of Adam was for men to try to live independently of His laws. We can’t, but we try. Man wants to believe that he can sow spiritual dandelions and get spiritual watermelons. In other words, man persistently believes that he can sow evil all they want and still reap good. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can skip devotions in the morning and still reap a good day. Or that we can sow lack of bodily exercise and still have a healthy body. Or that we can fail to invest and yet somehow come out OK when we are old. Or that we can neglect our children year after year and not reap children with similar habits. I don’t know how many of you have heard the old 70’s song, Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin? It’s about a father who never has time for his son, and the son grows up to never have time for his dad. We act as if this law is not true in many of the things that we do. We tend to be self-deceived and thus need to be on guard.
Our tendency is to try to pull the wool over God’s eyes (“God is not mocked”
But the third main point is that our tendency is not only to be deceived, but to try to pull the wool over God’s eyes. That’s what Paul means when he says next that God is not mocked. In other words, you can’t pull a fast one on God. When David sinned with Bathsheba he sought forgiveness, and God forgave him. But God also told David that he would reap bitter fruit from that sin. Here’s what he reaped from that one dandelion seed that he planted. David’s children were involved in murder, intrigue, rebellion, incest and other problems. Those came from the dandelion seed that David had planted. And we like David think that if we ask forgiveness that somehow God will brush it all away. It’s impossible to avoid reaping a larger harvest. The only thing we can do is minimize the amount of dandelions there will be by digging them up consistently, and eventually there will be a clean garden. But we cannot pull the wool over God’s eyes by thinking that we will not gain a harvest. A church that does not invest in ministry as God commands is a church that mocks God’s laws of harvest and will never be prospered. They will reap lousy ministry and lousy dividends. So take the ten characteristics of godly sowing that we looked at last week seriously. God is not mocked.
We must begin sowing with the end result in mind (reap)
The fourth main point is that we must begin sowing with the end result in mind. We don’t sow for the sake of sowing. We sow with a purpose in mind, that we might reap. That is Biblical. Anyone who thinks that rewards is not a Biblical concept needs to read the Bible again. There are literally thousands of references to rewards.
We’ve got to live with the future in mind and especially with eternity in mind. Galatians 6:8 calls us to have an eternal perspective. We need to ask ourselves questions like, “If I do this sin, and I get a multiplied increase of that in my life, what is this going to look like?” We need to realize that even though it may seem hard and useless right now to be sowing righteousness into Omaha, by faith we can look to the future and claim God’s promise that our labors in the Lord are not in vain. It’s guaranteed that we will reap what we sow. Paul admonishes us to keep that future in mind when he says, therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
The law as applied to money & other resources
Fifth point: (and let’s end with this), Let’s look at some examples of how this law applies to money and to other resources. We will look at the principle of giving to pastors in verse 6, then to mercy ministries in verse 10, and then to some other examples of sowing and reaping money and resources. And I’m emphasizing what Paul is emphasizing in his application, probably for the same reason – we tend to space it off or we tend to doubt that this principle really applies to finances.
Mark 10 tells us that when we give up everything we have to God, God gives back the same things back 100-fold (with persecutions – its not always pain free – but even in prison Paul had more than he needed for himself), and he includes in that list of what God gives back houses and lands in this time, and a generous addition in the life to come. But it is the same seed that is sown that is harvested. You cannot spiritualize passages like that away.
Let’s start with the application Paul starts with in verse 6: Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. It’s not limited to money. It’s all good things. That could include labor, encouragement, food, help like the lawyer Zenas gave to Paul. God rewards a person who invests his time and labors for the pastor. Just as a pastor sacrificially gives of his whole life to ministry, you can aid in any of those areas and find the blessings of that pastor transferred to your life. There is a reciprocal relationship. The passage I read earlier from 1 Corinthians 3 indicates that the kind of pastor you sit under will profoundly impact your life. You ought never to relocate for a job without considering first “How is my family going to spiritually grow in that church? What kind of seed is that pastor sowing? Is it only pietistic seed?” If you are a field that is only getting a scant amount of seed sown, you will only grow and prosper spiritually in a scant way. Paul said that by the power of the Holy Spirit he was sowing seed into the lives of his people, and he calls them his field. And it was producing fruit not only in them, but it was bringing reward to him. OK? This is that reciprocal relationship. He said, Now he who plants and he who waters are one and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. Paul was entering into rewards by generously investing in the lives of this congregation; pouring his heart out in service and ministry of the word.
But the reverse is true as well. Paul indicates that to the degree that the pastor is well taken care of and good things are shared with the pastor, God guarantees that the congregation will share in the rewards or harvest of the pastor. You give money generously into the pastor’s life, and you do it by faith and out of love, God says that he will prosper you. I think I have sinned against God’s people by being fearful of preaching on finances and on these kinds of subjects. I think in all of the years that I was at Trinity I only preached on this subject once, and that was when Carl Shoemaker came. And I urged the people to honor him monetarily and to not be stingy. Now I am very content, and always have been with what I have received. That’s not the issue here. It’s your blessing that is the issue. And even though this may seem self-serving and might be misunderstood (there is always a danger when you are preaching of being misunderstood), I think I will miss totally Paul’s main point in Galatians 6:6 if I don’t address the issue of how you guys can be prospered in precisely what verse 6 talks about. Get out your Bibles because we are going to do a quick search of Scriptures proving that how you give to ministry dictates how you will receive back in kind.
Turn first to Matthew 10. This is a passage which speaks about how we ought to receive one another in the Lord. Matthew 10:40-42.
Matt. 10:40 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.
Christ is putting this into its spiritual context. Don’t treat your relationship to the pastor or even to other believers purely on a human plane. Christ said in Matthew 25, inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me. The reason we are rewarded as if we were serving Christ is that we truly are serving Christ. HE is united to every believer, and we need to start treating other believers in the same way we would treat Christ. This past week I was listening to Elizabeth Elliot as I was driving back from Glenn’s and she was relating a story about a lady who finally came to the place where she was willing to treat her husband as if he was Jesus even though he was a lazy couch potatoe who never did anything, and the spiritual transformation that brought to both her and to husband. She finally saw her work as not just to her husband, but as sowing to the Spirit; as serving Jesus. But notice what application Christ makes of this in verses 41 and following.
Matt. 10:41 “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. [OK? That’s cool. When you receive God’s messenger, you receive his reward.] And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. [Well, that gives me an opportunity to receive a reward when I receive you in the Lord. There is a reciprocal relationship. Verse 42]
Matt. 10:42 “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
Now we need to stop and ask ourselves, “What is a prophet’s reward? What is a righteous man’s reward? What is a disciple’s reward?” You don’t have to study many Scriptures to see that it is both earthly and heavenly. We read from Mark 10 that it is now in this time, houses and lands and brothers and sisters, as well as rewards in the life to come. Which means that as we minister to and help a prophet we share in both the earthly and the heavenly kinds of rewards that those people might gain as a result of our help. Now that only stands to reason if this law is true: that we only reap the same thing that was sown.
Look at Phil 4:14-19.
Phil. 4:14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.
Phil. 4:15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.
Phil. 4:16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
Phil. 4:17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. [Notice that Paul not only received, but he was praying that they would receive. Verse 18]
Phil. 4:18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
Phil. 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. [We can’t say that verse 18 is talking about money and resources for Paul (which everybody agrees that it is], but verse 19 is only talking about heaven. It is saying that as they gave to Paul out of their poverty by faith, God was going to pour back richly into their lives.]
And there are many other passages that speak of how we reap the same kind of blessings that we sow into the lives of the pastor.
Let’s look at giving to the poor in general. This is more of an application of verse 10 of Galatians 6.
Turn with me to Psalm 41 and I want to read the first three verses. Psalm 41 deals with sowing and reaping the same kind of seed, but having a harvest more glorious than what we put in because God’s harvest is always a multiplied increase. Psalm 41:1-3
Psa. 41:1 Blessed is he who considers the poor [OK? This is an individual who is willing to engage in mercy ministry for the poor. “Blessed is he who considers the poor. Here’s what he reaps.]; The LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. [Mercy ministry delivered the poor out of trouble, and God says that you can expect the same to happen to you. You reap the same kind that you sow. Verse 2]
Psa. 41:2 The LORD will preserve him and keep him alive [Just as you preserved and gave security to the poor, God will do the same to you], And he will be blessed on the earth [notice that this is not just a reward in heaven. Verse 2 says, “And he will be blessed on the earth”]; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies.
Psa. 41:3 The LORD will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed. [He is talking about prosperity in every area of life.]
Now there are literally pages upon pages of Scriptures like these that I am pulling together that I hope to make into a handout for prayer. But there is plenty upon which we can bank our faith that this second law of harvest will work as we are generous to ministry by tithing and generous by giving of offerings and alms.
Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” There’s that law again.
Deuteronomy 15:1-11 says that as we release poor people from their debts God will so bless that there will no longer be any poor among us.
Prov. 19:17 He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given. Did you see that it is the same thing reaped as what was sown. “He will pay back what he has given.”
Now what about the heavenly reward? There are several passages which promise that when we give to the poor that we are also laying up treasures in heaven. I don’t think he is just using poetic language. Scripture indicates that what we do on earth determines the degree of responsibilities and rewards and resources we will start off with. There is a seed-harvest relationship between time and eternity in the area of resources. And we will be needing and using resources in heaven. We won’t be like God. We will be limited. And the resources we have will be limited in measure by what we plant in this life. Now that’s heavy.
Nor should we look at this dynamic only in the realm of the possible. No. As we saw last week, sowing requires faith. Indeed, God makes things prosper in ways that are miraculous all the time. Now we tend to be skeptics, so some of you may not think this is a miracle at all. But I think God is prospering us with our photocopier. The Lord healed the photocopier to start with. Michell’s business gave it away because there were features that weren’t working, and they weren’t working when we first had it here. The feeder didn’t work at all. It kept getting jammed, and you could only duplex one sheet at a time. So I talked to Bishops Office Equipment who serviced the machine and they said it couldn’t be fixed. And they recommended against buying cartridges because they are so expensive. So we prayed, and it has worked smoothly ever since. A month ago the indicator said we were totally out of toner. We’ve gone through a lot of copies. And you could see that the toner was gone on the pages. Pages finally had so little toner that they were illegible. I tried my trick of shaking it, to no end. We didn’t want to spend the extra $300 bucks right away for the expensive replacement cartridge for that machine. Well, we prayed, and Deb opened the machine and knocked. Doesn’t the Bible say to ask, seek and knock? And from that time a month ago to the present it has been putting out sharp black pages. We have copied thousands of pages - and it still registers empty. Now some people might want to say it is natural. But I give the glory to God.
Keep in mind that we deal with a God who created all things out of nothing in Genesis 1. Keep in mind that this is the same God who fed from 1-3 million Jews in the desert without trains filling grocery stores every day. That’s incredible. Liberals say its impossible. He provided water (Ex. 15; 17; Numb. 20) for them and even meat (Ex. 16; Numb. 11). That is no small miracle. This is the same God who kept the Israelites from having their shoes and clothing wear out over the course of 40 years (Deut. 8:4; 29:5; Neh. 9:21). For all who observed the sabbath year and didn’t plant or harvest that year, God made the harvest so great the previous year that they had plenty for three years. He used the ravens to feed Elijah and kept the oil jar pouring. Sort of like our never ending copy toner. God promises in Malachi 3 to open the windows of heaven in blessing those who tithe. He is talking about going beyond so-called natural processes. He’s calling for faith. Jesus instantly caught a boatload of fish. He fed 5000 with a little boy’s lunch. He can make this law of harvest work in your life too even when you can’t see how it can possibly happen.
So even though this law says that it is the same kind that is sowed that God gives you harvest, it can be as amazing and as different as the relationship of a seed to a harvest. An oak tree may not look anything like an acorn, and a towering mustard plant may not look anything like the tiny seed that is planted, but though quite different, it is precisely this law in operation.
Now you might think that if this law truly works, why were Jesus and the apostles not wealthier? Didn’t they drive in a beat up Volkswagen and wear Thrift Store clothes? Well they might have. That’s what we tend to wear. But they were actually better taken care of than you might think. It’s true that as stewards they had given God everything. Peter said, we have left all and followed you. But that didn’t mean they didn’t have more than they needed. The very next verses are the very verses that promise God will give back 100 fold in this life. And so John 13:29 says that they had a money bag to distribute money to the poor. Because they were faithful stewards they had more money than they needed for themselves. They were continually giving away to the poor. But they found they could not outgive God. The seamless robe that Jesus had was the newest invention and was very expensive. It was the equivalent of a modern $1500 suit. Now I doubt that he spent the money on it. I think it was probably given to him. But archeology tells us that it was far out of reach of even the middle class. It was definitely not something a poor man would have. And that’s why the soldiers gambled for it.
Nor were the disciples poor. On the cross Christ put his mother into the care of John the Baptist. Well, John supplied a house for her that was so large that it was able to seat a large a crowd in Acts 12:12. Edersheim demonstrates from first century sources that the kind of home Peter had was clearly a wealthy upper middle class home (vol. 1, p. 502) (Matt 8:14-15) And it shouldn’t surprise us. Hadn’t Christ promised to give back houses? It is clear from the Gospels that John and James were men of social means and standing. In Paul’s travels there were times that he had nothing, and there were other times where he was able to hire men, give alms and be treated with respect by strangers who saw him. Which means that they must have seen some social standing in his clothing. One commentator said, “Paul had use of considerable money at this period, perhaps from his father’s estate.” Paul and Barnabas were wealthy enough that they financed the first missionary journey from their own pockets. Even Jesus had wealthy patrons who ministered to Him. So they fit the pattern that when you give up all by investing into the kingdom, God pours back more than you have given of the same kind.
Now we are stewards, and there are times when God takes away. Paul spent time in prison, but if you look at the last verses of Acts you will see that even there, God gave Paul far more than he needed – so that he could minister to others. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.
So the bottom line is that I want you to begin expecting blessings in this life and in the life to come that are of the same kind as the seeds that you plant into the lives of others. Evil will beget evil. Wind will beget whirlwind. Alms will beget further riches on earth and treasures in heaven. But always, there will be a like harvest that you can expect. Let’s begin to sow generously and expect by faith. Paul says, But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one gives as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work…. Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything… (2 Cor. 9:6-11)