This is the fifth post in our blog series by Karis Women on Galatians 5:22, check out the rest of the series here.
Galatians was written to a church full of gentiles who were saved from their sins by grace, through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Believers who were being turned aside from the gospel. Because religious people were questioning their identity as children of God (questioning their right to call themselves part of the family), questioning their salvation, their practices, or lack thereof. Wanting them to prove their devotion to God by keeping His law. All around there was intense pressure to try harder, to be better, to be more religious. Galatians is so much more than a fruit covered Sunday school poster proclaiming Christian virtues. Please take some time to study this whole book–it will feed your soul.
Galatians chapters 5 and 6 outlines two obstacles to walking “in step with the Spirit” and “doing good to all people”. First, there is the sinful nature (or flesh) within us. The conflict between the sinful nature and the Spirit of God within us is direct, constant and obvious. Our flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit of God. When we give into the sinful nature, we give into sexual immorality, to drunkenness, to jealousy, to envy, to anger and so on (Galatians 5:16-21). I think we are preoccupied with fighting against the flesh most of the time. But this fight has already been won through the Crucified Christ and us being crucified with Christ (5:24).
The second obstacle is the slow accumulation of discouragement, weariness, disappointment, and fatigue. While we are busy fighting our sinful nature head on, it flanks us. Disappointment and weariness creep up from behind and start draining us.
Galatians 6:7-10 says, "Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."
Imagine I planted my first seeds of the spring in my garden and when they haven’t turned into healthy productive plants in 2 weeks I say “Why bother?,” and I don’t plant the rest of my garden. Or say I let the seeds grow until July and then just pull the plants out because I was expecting fruit not flowers. The problem wasn’t the seeds I planted, the problem was with my expectations. I failed to read the “days until harvest” info on the seed packet so my expectations were way off. I know this is a silly example, and yet, don’t we get confused and discouraged when we see people sowing to please their sinful natures, and not reaping destruction?
Meanwhile, we’re sowing to please the Spirit and don’t see the fruit we are wanting and expecting, in ourselves or in others. And just like the believers in Galatia we begin to lose heart, we become weary, we wonder what the point is, why we even bother. We start to believe that the lack of fruit is because we aren’t doing enough, trying hard enough, aren’t good enough. We despair because we are impatient and near sighted. We are distracted by short-term yields (or lack thereof) not realizing the seeds we are called to plant produce a harvest in eternity.
We haven’t grasped what “in due season” means. We have been given new seed through the gospel. We have been set free from the endless cycle of sin and death. What we sow is what will be harvested. We need to read that seed packet again, more carefully. Planting seeds requires faith. Whether those seeds are literal or metaphorical. Do you believe that God keeps His promises? Do you? Don’t be deceived (don’t let anyone convince you otherwise): you will reap what you sow. If you sow to please the Spirit, from that Spirit you will reap eternal life. Do not grow weary doing good, for, in due season, you will reap. Keep planting. Keep doing good to all people as you have opportunity remembering your role is faith in God, faithfulness to continue planting and an invitation to the harvest.
God makes the seed and the sun, the soil and the rain, He causes the growth. Don’t be impatient, eternal life has a long growing season. God has planted His Spirit in you. God cannot be mocked. You will be filled with its fruit. Your life is being transformed. You will be like Jesus because God is faithful. He keeps His promises and tends what He has sown. Enjoy these first fruits, but don’t expect the harvest too soon.