Yesterday our church celebrated its one year anniversary of meeting together as a local congregation. Our guest speaker was Mike Hulinsky, lead pastor at LeMars Bible Church.
As he preached from Galatians 6:7-10, his first point was simply a restating of verse seven: you reap what you sow.
This seems obvious, intuitive, and you almost ask, why, Paul, is this even necessary to state? But there is a reason he needs to say it: we don't want to believe it. We want to think that our actions don't have consequences. We want to act like they don't.
There used to be a phrase, which I don't hear as often anymore, but I think that has more to do with a change in vocabulary than a loss of the idea. You'd see someone, usually a young man, making some very foolish decisions with their life, and it would be described as sowing their wild oats. Johnny is doing a lot of partying and spending time with girls who are sexually indulgent, just sowing his wild oats. Ronnie takes up gambling and is getting into the drug scene, it's a phase, he's just got to sow his wild oats. And honestly, growing up, I just thought this was a phase most people went through. It was obvious to me that you didn't have to. But I thought it was normal, and while maybe not intelligent, not particularly problematic.
However, as one old farmer once remarked, the problem with sowing wild oats is that you then are harvesting wild oats. Or, as Paul says in Galatians 6:7, Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Choices have consequences, to think otherwise is to mock God. Those are pretty stark terms to put it in.
Now, the good news of the book of Galatians is that God is more than willing (and able!) to both forgive and change sinners like you and me. We all have done more sowing of the wrong seed than we would care to admit. But Christ died as a substitute, that we need not die eternally for our transgressions of God's law:
Galatians 3:13-14, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"--so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Jesus takes our curse, takes our ultimate punishment. And if our hope is in him, we are given the Holy Spirit of God, who himself is the power to change us. He will conform our desires to God's, so that we can choose to sow good seed.
But this doesn't remove the reality of our earthly past. While we can find forgiveness, hope, and the power to change in Jesus, we often still face the painful realities of the choices we have made that are wrong. God does not magically remove every temporary and earthly consequence just because he's removed the eternal punishment. We still live in a world in which cherry tomato seeds produce cherry tomatoes, corn seeds produce corn, and wild oats produce wild oats. Your decisions still matter. Don't think that you can mock God. Sow to the Spirit.