“Be not deceived; God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Gal. 6:7-9).
There is a comforting promise for the people of God in these words; but there is also a warning of responsibility and judgment to all men.
No one is relieved of the responsibility by refusing to do anything either good or bad. Whether we want to or not, we are all sowers that scatter handfuls of seed in the large field of life. If the man is good, he will scatter good seed; but if he is wicked, the seed will also be so. We ourselves, as well as others, reap the results of our sowing.
The most notorious thief in prison today possibly began his career of stealing by taking cookies from his mother’s pantry. The sinful seed of thievery grew until he became a reckless robber.
This inexorable law is operative in all areas of life. He who begins to use foul words will soon have his mouth full of profanity and obscenity. Before long he will be a slave to habit and will not even be aware of his filthy speech. If a man reads nothing but lewd novels and licentious literature, he will become a part of what he reads. Loose speech and vile reading result in immoral living. The first glass of liquor was the seed that developed into drunkenness. He who loiters on the street corner to stare at the immoral woman is standing on the brink of a grave; unless he hastens away he will soon be lying in it.
When I was a boy I heard much corrupt talk. These words have followed me until today and will probably do so until my dying day. I may think I have forgotten them completely; then all at once they bob up into my conscious mind. They even dart into my quiet moments in the prayer chamber when I in a special way want to be alone God.
Where does all this wickedness reside in us all the while it seems to have vanished? Alas, it is lodged in the soul; without warning it comes to the surface and tempts us to sin. Our soul is a marvelous mechanism. It is like a recording machine which catches every sound. Every experience we have is ineradicably inscribed on the sensitive receptor of the soul. Years later the “music” is played back to us; at times it is played in the presence of others, and thus it is inscribed in their souls also.
It is a serious matter to be a human being.
Tremendous powers are concealed in the waterfall; where has it all come from? It has been made by the water which drop by drop has fallen from the sky.
Our life is made up of “drops” which have been “dripping” into our soul, one by one. In time they become a powerful force for good or evil. “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
If we look at life in city and country we see the same law at work. The strongest of the young people sets the pace for the others; the rest will become as he is. The leaders set the example, and the others follow. Examples are contagious; there is a great truth in the old adage, “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you what you are.” The Bible puts it this way, “Whatsover a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
If all those people who live their lives in sin and godlessness would consider this truth seriously, they would surely begin to feel some of the responsibility that is theirs. Perhaps it might even lead them to repentance and a new life.
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We have more than a reminder of responsibility in our text; it also contains words of comfort. The comfort is that if we persevere in good work we shall reap fruit. It is not only evil which grows; God has promised that the good shall bear fruit in us and through us.
You Christian fathers and mothers, you who try as best you can to make the way of salvation plain to your children: You have a right to claim the promise that your work shall bear fruit and that your children shall be saved. You Christian teachers, you who labor day after day in the classroom among seemingly unresponsive children: Be confident that your work shall not be in vain; you shall also reap.
For that matter, there is no limit to the promise. Any Christian who seeks to serve God has a right to claim the promise. He may be a parent, teacher, preacher, missionary or servant in any legitimate position in life. The two most liable to lose courage are a preacher whose preaching seems to have no effect and a mother who has unsaved children.
There is a story told of a mother who was on her deathbed. When she realized that her hour of departure was near she called her children to her bedside and told them that she had a treasure hidden in a small box; it was her wish that they should divide it among themselves. “Mother!” exclaimed the children; “Have we not always been poor? What treasure is this of which you speak?” “It is my Bible,” replied the mother. “I have moistened every page with my tears.”
She was the mother of Bartholomew Ziegenbalg, one of the first Lutheran missionaries to India.
Many a mother with the Bible before her has shed tears over herself and her children. Such have not wept in vain. Perhaps you are one who has had such experiences; if so, do not lose hope. God has given you a great promise. Let not your courage fail as long as He is faithful who has promised. Ziegenbalg’s mother went to her grave before her son was saved; but He who promised that whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap was still living. He is as strong and gracious as ever.
Perhaps these words will reach a Christian father or mother who just now are discouraged and bear a heavy burden in their heart because of their children. That which presses most heavily upon your heart is that you did not do as much as you might have done for the spiritual welfare of your children. That is indeed a crushing burden, and guilt is most certainly there. But as a child of God you have asked and do ask forgiveness also for this sin of omission; that God will forgive you is beyond doubt. Therefore you must not let the judgment crush you when God has removed the guilt by His forgiveness. Continue to place yourself and your children on God’s shoulders; they are strong enough for any burden.
Then a word to you who preach the gospel, you who in a special way stand as a watchman on the walls of Zion. You may be discouraged many a time. You may hear voices telling you that it is absolutely useless for you to continue. These voices are not from God. Even if you often fail to find fruit of your labors, the promise is still that what you sow, that you shall also reap. The fruit will appear in due season if you sow in the Spirit. Cling to that promise, for it is from God. It may be that others shall reap where you have sown, but the blessing is yours even today. Take courage, therefore, and be strong; the Lord will pros pe your work.
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In spite of all, it is so easy for many of us to give up. Discouragement creeps upon us as stealthily as fog upon the countryside. Temptations to give up increase as we grow older; as pride and conceit are the besetting temptations of a young worker in God’s Kingdom, so he will be tempted to yield to the waves of discouragement that engulf him when he is older. May neither of these sins break us and rob us of the fruit we should bear for God.
The promise of fruitfulness in God’s Kingdom is woven together with the warning against becoming weary in well-doing. A good beginning is like a fresh shoot with a good root; a good ending is the full- grown ear of grain. Many began well, but became tired and gave up; the stem was broken just when it was becoming strong. May not that be your and my fate. May we rather stand erect in God’s field until we are garnered into His granary.
There is still fertile soil in the souls for the seed of life. Sinners will still listen to the proclamation of the gospel; we have no reason to be discouraged on that score. As long as God has not removed the candlestick from us we have work to do and a promise of fruit.
Take courage, faint hearts! Do not become weary of well-doing! Continue to work in your corner! The day of grace is still here, but “the night cometh when no man can work.” Our Lord and Savior will then take His faithful servants to their rest with Him.
Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ‘mid springing flowers;
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.
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