Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s Foundations Podcast. Whenever and wherever you find time to listen to this today – well done for carving out space in a busy and probably challenging day ! Our prayer is that through engaging with his word each day, God would transform our hearts and minds, that we would get to know him better and that we would seek to live the better life he calls us to.
Our passage for today is Galatians 6: 6-10. We are going to focus on verse 8: Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
When I read this passage, verse 8 didn’t feel the easiest one to bring a reflection on but, as I prayed, I sensed that God wanted to say something or more point – to ask something through this short verse. His question to us today is big and challenging… How do we view our lives and what we do with them?
Today’s reading contains some of Paul’s final thoughts to the Galatian church – the things he wanted to leave them with. And his message to them was this – everyday there is a choice. A choice to live for God or a choice to live for yourself.
In reality that’s what this verse boils down to. Every day we are sowing. It’s this agricultural metaphor Paul uses here that would have been widely understood at the time of writing. Sowing is doing, it’s living. It’s what do we do with what God has given each us – our time, money, resources, skills, gifts – it’s the whole package. Paul explains to the Galatians that there are in effect two ways in which we can live.
We can sow to please the flesh. I heard Andy Hawthorne, CEO of the Message Trust, explain it a bit like this… you knock the h off and flip it around. It’s sewing to please the self. And the reality is that it’s the prevailing spirit of our modern age – one of entitlement and consumerism. The message from advertising, culture, through the media is….we always need more and that we deserve it.
My reflection is that we now find ourselves living in days and times where what we once took for granted, what we thought was ours by right has been restricted or even taken away from us. For some, it means that we can’t do our jobs as we used to. For some they’ve stopped altogether. For some, and indeed for all us in time, we are finding that there our financial challenges in terms of how we use our money. It’s affected our relationships – how we connect with others…now from a distance. It’s impacted education – something which is now happening in our homes and for many that’s a real challenge.
Lockdown life has totally challenged this notion that we can do what we want, where we want and how we want to do it.
And in all of it…we face the same two choices that were facing the Galatian believers that Paul was writing to, as we have throughout the entire history of God’s people. ‘Choose whom this day you will serve’…to quote Joshua – one of the key leaders of God’s people in the Old Testament
It’s very easy to see that under lockdown our default would be to just look after our own interests. To sow to please the self.
It’s this… ‘I’ve got to get that Tesco delivery slot before someone else’ mentality. My job and my tasks are more important today so…. can yours just wait? It’s my night off so we’re watching what I want to watch ok?
Under intense pressure, and that’s often what it feels like at the moment during this crisis, what’s inside of us – our character- comes to the surface. To paraphrase something I once heard Andy Rushworth, leader of the Shine ministry, say ‘When you squeeze a grape, you get grape juice. If you squeeze a Christian, you should get Christ’.
Sowing to please the Spirit is sowing in the opposite spirit of the age.
What does that look like? Paul explains this for us in verses 9 and 10 of this great passage. It’s looking around us today and saying….who’s in front of me and how can I do good for them?
Sowing to please the Spirit is asking – How can I bless my family? Shall I offer to cook tonight? To do the clearing up? To let go of the television remote? To make that extra space and time for a facetime call despite the fact that I can only see the top of my Nan’s head and it’s rather frustrating? That’s just me!
It’s asking how can I bless my neighbours? Shall I pop a card through their letter box? Or set up a Zoom quiz because we could all do with a do with a night off watching BBC news updates?
It’s asking…How can I bless my colleagues? Can I encourage them with a timely email or text? Can I offer to share some of the workload with them for an upcoming project? Can I offer to pray for them if things are challenging?
In these days and in these times, we have a choice. Do we seek to build God’s kingdom or are we seeking to build our own?
We haven’t really focused on it but we can see from the end of verse 8 that one way – the Spirit’s way – will ultimately build something for God which will last; the other, building for just ourselves, in the end ultimately leads to nowhere.
God help us today to be a people who walk in step with your Spirit. Who are known as the goodness and kindness people in a time when things are really tough and self preservation mode kicks in. As we seek to live in that opposite spirit today may we see something of your kingdom, of heaven being built here on Earth – in our homes, our workplaces and our communities… as we live for you this day. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Galatians 6:6-10
Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.