I was over at a friend's house yesterday, after not having been to her home before, and noticed that she has beautiful box gardens out in the front of her home. I had to fight "the envy response", and told her so. Here we are in the middle of winter, and there was still lovely produce in her beds. In our neck of the woods, you can grow various foods outside, 10 months out of the year, if you work at it. This is what hit my mind as I read today's text, because Paul uses the gardening metaphor in
Galatians 6:6-10. Let's sow precious seed into our souls this morning as we examine this text.
The overarching themes of this passage are generosity and focus, because they are intertwined.
The first key question is: how are you spending your time? I want you to really think about that this morning.
I had occasion to really think about this deeply over the past couple of days, while you didn't get a post here at the RD blog. I was under a heavy workload, from my two contracted jobs. Plus, another opportunity crossed my path, which I'm praying about. These circumstances have "moved my cheese", as the book1 says, causing me to ask: "How am I spending my life? Am I planting selfishness, which will produce a crop of weeds?" It's an important question, no matter one's age - - - young, middle-aged, or well-seasoned.
One translation of 6:7 says, "Don't be deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap." It's a principle of God's order. If you plant pumpkin seeds, you'll harvest pumpkins, not half-runner pole beans. If you plant strawberries, you'll not harvest corn. The same is true with our lives. God gives each one of us the tools we need for this life, and only asks that we use them to follow Him. Yet, He leaves the choice of whether we use our tools, how we use them, when we use them and for whose glory we use them - - up to us.
I'll tell you this, fellow believers. I pray I've chosen well, and that I continue to choose well for the remainder of my earthly days, no matter how many of them are left.
Young people have a lot of angst about "what to do with my life". I remember that stage, and it IS difficult. Here's my advice. Look at the gifts God has given you. If you stink at writing and hate it, don't choose a career that requires skill at writing, for example. Is there something you love to do? Find a creative way to make a career of it, as long as it brings glory to God. And, then, throughout your life, look for open doors. God will lead you, if you seek, trust and obey Him. Don't be afraid to walk through them. One of my university professors used to say (borrowing from A.W. Tozer), "There's no difference between the secular and the sacred"1, which means that for the Christian following Jesus Christ and seeking to honor Him, all is "sacred". All God-inspired work is holy work. When we are submissive to Him, His Holy Spirit "does a growth work" in us, producing in and through us a harvest of "real life", "eternal life"!
Now, for the other side of this equation: generosity. I've had the t.v. on "mute" as I've been blogging this morning, but I just dialed up the sound. There's a news story on, about a "chain" of people who got out of their cars on a snowy interstate highway to heroically rescue a man, trapped in the cab of an 18-wheeler, hanging over a precipice. It was generosity that prompted them to do that. What if they had just left him hanging there? What if they had made excuses - - - "It's too dangerous! I might be hurt or killed myself!"
And similarly, Christian, when all around us lost people are headed to Hell at warp speed....what is our response? How much more should we generously extend a hand, using the gifts we've been given, to rescue them?
Unfortunately, the culture of American society is often this: to get as many goodies for myself as I possibly can, whether I earned them or not, and then to spend my time indulging my every desire. The biblical word/phrase for this is "worldliness" or "the lust of the eyes".
15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of lifec—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
1 John 2:15-16 (ESV)
God, by contrast, commands us to be generous people, starting with lavishly supporting those who have "raised us up" in the Christian faith. Preachers hesitate to preach on this verse, because it sounds self-serving. But, the truth is - - - we should generously compensate our church leaders for the very valuable work they do. Sure! There are excesses! Some very "successful", well-known religious leaders have used their money to purchase solid gold bath fixtures in their homes or multi-million dollar jets (or tried to). In general, though, pastors and missionaries and Bible professors and so on are not rich in material goods. They should be some of the most financially well-off among us! I don't think that it is an accident Paul emphasizes that we should share our financial blessings with those who are making it their life's work to spread the gospel or equip believers.
Even beyond that, we should live lives of generosity, sharing the riches (both material and spiritual) God has given us with those around us. This is love. Love is not stingy. You can't love another person (especially God), while at the same time being stingy with your treasures. That is why God gave us The Shema2.
There are so many fabulous Bible verses I could share here, but won't, for the sake of time. (Mother tells me my posts just run on and on...). But, under Sources: I will post a link, where you can click and read many such verses3.
Lord God, Giver of all precious blessings, You open Your hand so generously to us! Cover our tightly-closed fists, our locked-up hearts and open them. Break them open so that we can lavish love on those around us. For Jesus' glory and in His name, amen.
1. Johnson, Spencer. Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life. New York: Putnam, 1998. Print.
3. Deuteronomy 6:4; Luke 10:27