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Charles Stanley - The Principle of Sowing and Reaping


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Well, life is full of choices. And we make all kind of choices in life. And what we don't realize is that we make choices early in life that go with us for the rest of our life. It's becomes part of our character. Because you see, early in life we'll hear things, we see things, we experience things in life that we think that's in the past and that's gone, that's forever. The truth is, all we see, all we hear, all we experience is still there.

And when I think about children who grow up who want their way early in life. They will grow up and they'll want their way later on in life. Until someone helps them to understand what life's really all about. Because you see here's what happens, whatever's planted in our life as a child becomes the seeds of the things that build our character. So, the truth is, all of us today are the result of those people who have put seeds of good ideas and good habits into our life. And then there have been those who have tried to build other things into our life.

And you know it's interesting that the Lord said in a very short verse, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he'll not depart from it". And yet we have the idea that somehow if we just let kids grow up any way they want to they'll be okay. The truth is, that is not true. Because if a child grows up, no discipline, no real instruction, no biblical understanding of the things of God, they will grow up and their character will have been formed by those things that were added in their life. But also by the things that were neglected in their life. And that's why it's so important that you and I train up our children in the proper way. Pour into their life the ideas and the thoughts and the beliefs that somewhere along the way they'll guide them.

We have to be careful what we sow into the lives of our children. Because what we're doing is we are laying the foundation, planting the seeds of their future character. Because the truth is, all of us are the result of those things people have built into our lives. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're not so good. And so, when we think about the effect of sowing and reaping, I want us to turn in a few moments to a passage of Scripture in Galatians. It's one of the most important principles in the entire Word of God. Because it is a, listen, it is a divine principle, a universal principle. It is a principle that absolutely is certain to take place. And it's unavoidable. It is a principle that we call the Principle of Sowing and Reaping. And when the Bible says, "Whatever a man sows, that will he also reap".

The truth is, we can say it in this light, whatever we sow, we'll reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow because that's the principle of agriculture. That's why we have farmers. And that's why we have food. And so, the same thing happens in your life and mine because into our lives have been sown those things that have helped to make us who we are today. So, think back in your life for just a moment and what did your father plant in your life? What did your mother plant in your life? What are you building in the life of your children? So, I want you to turn if you will to this sixth chapter of Galatians. And begin with this seventh verse.

So, here's what Paul says, he says, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will 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. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in good time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So, then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith".

So, I want us to look at this passage of Scripture because it's so important. It is the law of God. It is a principle of Scripture that is absolutely irrevocable. You cannot change it. And while you may deny it, while you may not like it, while you may object to it, while you may just revolt against it and while you may declare that you do not believe it. That does not change this law. You can fight against it if you choose but it is already taking effect in your life whether you realize it or not. It is so important. And I think one of the reasons that Paul certainly thought it was important is the way he began this passage of Scripture.

Now normally you would think if we were going to help you to see why something's good or bad; the first thing you would do is state what the principle is and then tell me what's wrong with it. But notice how he starts. He says from a very negative point of view to some degree when he says that we are to watch how we're sowing and how we're reaping because. So, what he does, he starts with a negative by saying, "Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked". Whatever we sow, we'll reap. What we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow. Now notice the emphasis here, he starts it out by saying here's the warning, don't be deceived. That is, do not let yourself be misled, carried away, headed in the wrong direction by someone else's words or something that you read, something that you hear. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked".

Now when he says, for example, that we're not to be deceived here, he's simply saying this, don't believe a lie. And the devil's got lots of lies. But other people are very deceptive. And they will feed into your life things that will ultimately destroy you if you allow them to do it. Because you say, Well, I heard it but I forgot it. And thus it's no longer in my mind. Everything you've ever heard, seen, felt is still there to some degree and in some fashion. So, when he says, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked". Now where are people the most deceived in? They're most deceived about spiritual things. For example, there are many people who believe that there is no such thing as life after death. That spiritual things are not necessary. That they can get along just as well the way they live. They don't have to go to church, don't need the Bible, they don't need any of this. And they think that somehow, it's all going to turn out just as well. And notice what he says, he says, "Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked".

Now the word "mocked" really means to turn up your nose at God. And to be arrogant, rebellious, and sneer at the principles and laws of God. He says, "God will not be mocked". That is, we will not be able to disobey God and get away with it. And so, when we come to look at this whole idea of sowing and reaping, all of us who are here today and all of you, we are at this point in our life the sum total of what we have thought, felt, believed, responded to and all the things that have affected our life. This is who we are. And some people are living a very corrupt life. Some people are living a very godly life. The issue is this, it does make a difference who our friends are, how they affect us, how they impact us, what we read, what we see, what we hear, where we go, where we work. All of these things impact our lives. And we either reject them or we accept them. And the things we accept into our life are like seeds that are being planted.

And we have to ask ourselves the question, what kind of life do I want to live? For example, in the future, what do I want to look like in the years to come? Because you see, once you start planting a certain kind of seed more than likely you're going to keep on allowing it to be planted. So, I want you to notice what he says in this passage because it's simple in a way and not so simple in another way. So, I want us to just take a moment to clarify some terms. So, look if you will in this eighth verse. "For the one who sows, to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will also reap eternal life".

Now let's think about that for a moment. When he talks about sowing to the flesh what does that mean? Well, our flesh according to Scripture is that attitude within us; that spirit within us that desires to live and to act independently of God. You say, Well, I've been saved in my life. Well, you trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior. He forgave you of your sins. He pardoned you. Now you're a child of God. And you have a new spirit because the Spirit of God came into your life to give you life. You say, Well, if I have a new spirit then what's this other thing in me? Listen, this attitude and this desire to act independently of God is a spirit of independence. For example, it's still in every single one of us. And so, no matter how godly you may be and how Christ-like you may try to live, we all have to deal with that spirit within us, that attitude within us that sometimes desires to act independently of God. That's our flesh. And when we are saved we don't lose that. Don't we all wish we would and could? But we don't. We still have it. So, we have to keep dealing with that.

Now, listen, sowing means if I'm sowing something that means I'm craving it. I'm absorbing it. I'm taking it in. That is, I'm accepting it. Why does a person sit down and watch some dirty movie? Why does a person get into pornography? Why do people just sit and look at sensual things? Because they are feeding that what? They are feeding that ungodly attitude of wanting to be independent of God. They're feeding something on the inside. Now he says, for example, what it does, it produces corruption. Which means it's a form of death. In other words, if you're body is corrupted with a deadly disease you just die a little bit at a time. And here again I say because the crop doesn't come in instantly you think you're getting away with it. Well, I know people who are doing thus and so. Give them time. Just give them time. Living in rebellion toward God, there's no such thing. He says, listen, don't be deceived, don't believe that lie. Don't try to mock God by saying, Yes, I can do all these things and it's going to be okay. It's not going to hurt me. It is going to hurt you. It's going to destroy you. And if you'll just stop and look around how it's destroying people all around us. And yet, they think somehow they're going to be an exception. No exceptions to the laws of God.

So, he says we can either sow to the flesh or we can sow to the Spirit. For example, when you read the Word of God you know what you're doing? You're putting the Word of God into your mind and heart. You, listen, you're sowing to the Spirit. When you share your testimony with somebody, you're sowing to your spirit. When you're listening to the Word of God, you come to church, you have a notebook and a Word of God in your hand. And you write down things that speak to your heart. What are you doing? You're sowing to the spirit. The Spirit of God is growing in your life, influencing and impacting your life. Every aspect of it. And so, you're sowing to the Spirit which is life, life eternal. And now when he says for example, "For the one who sows to his own flesh will reap the flesh of corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will also reap the Spirit eternal life". Eternal means length of time. It also means quality of life.

So, when he says that you and I sow those seeds that are righteous and holy and godly. When we sow those what are we doing? We're sowing seeds that build into our life a quality of things that have eternal value. Or we sow the other. So, when he says, watch what you're sowing and be careful how you are thinking. And notice what he says. He doesn't say, Well, one of these days you may reap it. He says three times, you will reap what you sow. Now does that mean that you can't be forgiven of things in the past? No, God will forgive you and cleanse you of anything you bring before Him. And, listen, He will forgive anything you bring before Him in genuine repentance. It doesn't belong in my life. I'm sorry. I'm asking You to forgive me on the basis of what Jesus did at Calvary. And God will forgive you. Does that mean you will never be harassed by it? No, it doesn't mean that. Does that mean that the Holy Spirit within you will enable you to overcome that? Yes, it does. But, listen, after time of asking God to overcome that in your life and that you're willing to lay it down every time it pops up in your life, you're willing to lay it down and ask God to purify your thinking. And make you a godly man or a woman. And then there are some things you'll live and die with no matter who you are and how godly you may be. It depends on what God planted in your life.

Now listen to what he says, he says for example, "For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life". Now then he says, "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we'll reap if we do not grow weary". Now what is he talking about? Well, think about this and I think about this as pastors for example. Here's a pastor who comes to a church; it's a small church. Maybe have fifty or seventy-five members, maybe a hundred. He's there year after year after year and somehow, he spends his life in that little church preaching the Word of God, teaching people, never have a big congregation, never live in a big house, never have a big salary. True to God. He puts up with cantankerous deacons. He puts up with people who say, Well, we want to keep him humble God. And will You keep him humble, we'll keep him poor. And giving him a hard time. They don't want to grow and but he stays in there. And he's faithful, loyal to God.

Here's what he's saying, he's saying, "In due season we will reap if we do not grow weary. Then he says, "So, then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith". So, think about it, he says all of us have an opportunity. And what's our opportunity? All of us have the opportunity to sow seeds into the lives of other people. And so, the issue is, what kind of person do you want to be? He says, Look, he says we are to impact. We have an opportunity to impact people for good.

So, let's just forget everything about the bad seed for just a moment. And think you can take this same passage of Scripture, just preach part of it and say, You know what? Remember whatever we sow, we'll reap what we sow, more than we sow, later than we sow. And put it all on the positive side. Talking to people about Jesus, giving out tracts, pointing them to the radio, television sermons. In other words, think about all the good seed that you can sow out there. And he says, Look, don't think you're going to sow all that good seed and God ignore it. You're not mocking God. But in other words, You don't realize that God sees all the little good things.

For example, if you reach down to pick up something from some little old lady or some little old man who can't do it. What are you doing? You're being kind. Well, you say, Well, God's not interested in that. That's exactly what the fruit of the Spirit is, love, joy, peace, kindness. And if you look at that fifth chapter and and just notice what Paul says. He says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control". That is, all of us have the privilege of feeding into other people's lives things that build character and godliness and righteousness and holiness into their life.

And let me ask you a question, what greater thing can you do? You can give them a lot of money and they can die and go to hell. You can you can send them to college and they can die and go to hell. You can do a lot of things for people that bring them no real, genuine, lasting fruit. But when you feed them the things of God and the qualities of Jesus, of kindness and gentleness and goodness. And forgiveness. And praying for them. And talking to them about the Lord and what God has done in your life. You are feeding those persons' spirit. And you may forget it and they may forget it for the moment but one of these days, God will have used you to reap a great harvest in them.

So, I ask you this question, in any given day are you feeding your mind, your soul, your spirit, your life, are you feeding that part of you that wants to act independently of God, the flesh, are you feeding yourself things that satisfy the flesh supposedly? Are you feeding your life those things that are building you up? That are making you godly? That are making you different? That are making you like a living well of awesome spring of water? Food, spiritual food that's making a difference in their life? Are you feeding yourself and feeding others the kind of truth that will ultimately determine their eternal destiny? Do you realize how powerful your life is? What an impact you can have that'll, listen, make an eternal difference in somebody's life. Don't be deceived. Don't be misled. Don't mock God by thinking that you can live ungodly and get away with it.

Listen, not that I say you can't, God says you cannot. But neither can you live a righteous, godly, holy life and it go wasted and not reap a crop. Yes, you will. And it is my prayer that if you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior remember this, you're already sowing seeds. You're already being corrupted. You're already cheating yourself out of the rewards of heaven that God has in store for you once you trust Him as your Savior. You may say, Well, I don't believe any of that. Remember this, that's your privilege but it does not change the truth; the irrevocable, unchangeable law of the living God which says, you will reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow. And what you do by making choices, you choose the kind of crop you're going to reap in the life that you're going to live. And the judgment before which you'll stand.

Father, thank You for teaching us the truth of Your Word. And I pray that every person who hears it will take it to heart because it is eternal truth. And that You will change their attitude, their actions. And that You'll help them to see instead of being a detriment to other people they can become an awesome asset through sharing the righteousness that is within them through Jesus Christ our Lord. In whose name we pray, amen.


Well, I would just say to you if you haven't been saved this is a great time for you to give your life to Christ. Because here's what happens, the moment you do, you change the whole picture. You can either walk away today having listened and will be eternally responsible for what you heard. And ignore it, live in sin the rest of your life, be deceived, mock God and die and be lost. Or you can say, You know what? I've heard the truth. And you ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sins, cleanse your heart, the Spirit of God comes into your life. Change you, make you a whole new creature. And by His power enable you to live a godly life.

You say, Well, is it too late for me? I'm seventy-five years of age. Is it too late? Well, let's put it this way, it's too late for you to have the reward you could have had but it's not too late to get to heaven. And it's not too late, listen, to make a difference where you are from this point till the end. You say, Will I have any reward left? Yes, because remember this, God judges us on the basis of the light of truth we know and what we do with it and how we respond to Him in our life. announcer: If you've been blessed by today's program, please visit us at InTouch.org. announcer: "In Touch," leading people worldwide into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and strengthening the local church. This program is sponsored by In Touch Ministries and is made possible by the grace of God and your faithful prayers and gifts.
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