CALLED TO LIVE IN FREEDOM

9526a07d9f8686ec5667a96cad064ff6

NEW TESTAMENT CONTEXTUAL COMMENTARY

by Dr. Robert R. Seyda

PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIAN CHURCHES

CHAPTER SIX (Lesson CXXXIX)

6:8 If you plant seeds belonging to your sinful-self, you will reap crops fit for corruption and condemnation. If, however, you plant seeds belonging to your spiritual oneness with the Anointed One, the Spirit will yield crops suitable for everlasting life.

EXPOSITION

Here Paul seems to take a turn in his narrative and starts down a different road while staying on the same theme of encouraging the congregations in Galatia to share good things with their teachers. However, he raises the issue of principle and ethics. Perhaps Jesus’ parable about the sower whose seed landed on a hard road, rocky ground, ground filled with weeds, and fertile soil, gave Paul the inspiration for this teaching. It will be very easy to see into which soil the call for pastoral and teacher support fell.

So, Paul now advises the Galatians that there is a better alternative to trying to squeeze by with unconfessed and unforgiven sins they think they can hide from God and other believers. Paul cautioned the Romans not to do what he encourages the Galatians to avoid. Do not allow sinful tendencies to use their bodies to do wrong things, but submit themselves to God, as people who have been resurrected and alive in the Anointed One. Instead, to offer their bodies to God for doing good.[1] Paul does not exclude a person’s talents, gifts, abilities, and intelligence.

The Apostle Paul goes on to tell the Romans and the Galatians that if they use their bodies to do what their sinful tendencies want; they will die spiritually. But if they use the Spirit’s help to stop doing the wrong things some people do with their bodies, they will continue to live in union with the Anointed One.[2] And the way to do this is for them to be more like their Lord Jesus the Anointed One so that when people see how they live and conduct themselves, they will see the Anointed One motivating them. They should not allow themselves to concentrate on how to satisfy their sinful desires and tendencies.[3]

All of this adds up to conventional wisdom. Those who participate in sinful activities will reap sorrow. And in the end, they will be made useless to God by the very immoral activities they practiced.[4] The prophet Jeremiah used another way to express this same truth about trying to do unethical things undercover. He told the children of Israel that such disillusioned people think they are planting wheat, but end up harvesting thorns. They work themselves to the point of exhaustion, but they get nothing for all their labor. They will be ashamed of their crop. The Lord’s displeasure caused this, says Jeremiah.[5]

And the LORD gave the prophet Hosea the inspiration to tell the people that if they plant goodness, they will harvest faithful love. But if they plant evil, they will harvest trouble. They will eat the fruit of their lies because they did not trust in their abilities and the power of those sent to protect them.[6] We often hear the words of King Solomon, “Throw your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days,” [7] in a positive light. But it can also have a negative connotation. Let’s call it the “boomerang” effect. You say something evil about another person, and you will get evil things said about you in return.

In his revelation from the Lord’s Messenger, the Apostle John received this warning: Don’t keep secret the words of the prophecy in this book. The time is near for these things to happen. Let anyone doing wrong continue to err. Let anyone unclean remain in pollution. Let anyone who is doing right go on doing what is proper. Let anyone who is living a holy life to maintain their sanctification. Listen, said Jesus, I am coming soon! I will bring rewards with Me. I will repay everyone for what they have done.[8] That same message should be taken seriously by every believer from now on until He does return.

The Psalmist has an engaging poetic way of expressing the need for believers to remain faithful in both good times and bad times, sickness and sorrow, when hated and when loved. He writes: “Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy. He who goes out weeping as he carries his sack of seed will come home with cries of joy as he transports his sheaves of grain.” [9] And the Preacher in the First Covenant had this to say: You don’t know where the wind blows. And you don’t understand how a baby grows in its mother’s womb. In the same way, you can’t guess what God will do – and He makes everything happen. So, begin planting early in the morning, and don’t stop working until evening time. You don’t know what might make you prosperous. Maybe everything you do will be successful.[10] Since that is true of our everyday life, it is certainly true of our spiritual life. The Apostle James indeed says “Amen” to this.[11]

This commitment is not partial, part-time, temporary, or passing. Listen to the words of Jesus: “Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” [12] I can assure you of this having gone to the foreign mission field three times in my life. I had to leave family, friends, a home, and sell all my possessions to get there, but it was worth it all. What the good Lord has given me I could not have earned or purchased. It is all a gift from God.

“So, don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food,” says Jesus. “Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God, the Father has given Me the seal of His approval.” [13] That’s why Paul was able to tell the Romans that they were free from sin. They have become servants of God, and the result is that they now only live for God. It will bring them eternal life.[14] Living totally for God does not mean crawling into a cave and spend the rest of your life in meditation and prayer. Instead, it means being a light to the world, the salt of the earth, and a daily witness to His saving grace.

We heard this same theme in Paul’s confession to young Timothy when he told him that God granted him mercy so that in him Jesus, the Anointed One could show that He has patience without limit. Did not the Anointed One show Paul His patience with him, the worst of all, sinners? He wanted him to be an example for those who would believe in Him and have eternal life.[15] And to Bishop Titus, Paul wrote that God generously poured out on us the Holy Spirit fully through Jesus the Anointed One, our Savior. We were made right with God by His grace. God saved us so that we could be His children and look forward to receiving a life that never ends.[16] To this, the Apostle Jude admonishes everyone to keep themselves safe in God’s love, as they wait for our Lord Jesus the Anointed One in His mercy to give them eternal life.[17]

This concept of reaping what you sow was already an established proverb in Judaism.[18] Roman philosopher, politician, lawyer, orator, political theorist, consul and constitutionalist, Publius Maracus Pinarius Rusca, who lived between 106-43 BC, offered an allegory. Serving as a consul, he held the highest elected political office in the Roman Republic in Rome (489 BC). During those days, he proposed a law for establishing the minimum age for candidates for office and submitted a question to an opponent, Marcus Srevilius. He asked: “Tell me now, Marcus, if I speak against you, will you abuse me as you have done the rest?” Marcus replied, “As you sow, so you will reap.” [19]

Another version of this same quotation renders it: “You will reap your sowing.” [20]  So Paul was making this statement as a quote known by everyone. I like what early church writer Ambrosiaster said about any attempt to trick God. He writes: “Nobody doubts that God cannot be fooled, but everyone receives from Him what he deserves.” [21] In other words, God will not over-punish or under-punish anyone; He’s always right on the mark. Perhaps that’s why the statue of Justice shows her holding a scale where the two trays are even. That means no matter what amount of sins placed on one side, God will put an equal amount of punishment on the other. We see this in the fact that while Justice holds a scale in one hand, she holds a sword in the other.

Paul informs us that what we do with every working minute of the day, with every act, every word, and deed, is, in a sense, sowing. If we use our energies to sow those things that are of interest to our sinful, immoral nature, we will reap whatever those seeds produce in our flesh. For a list of those things created can be found in verses nineteen to twenty-one, in chapter five. By the same token, when we sow those things that are of interest to our redeemed and spiritual nature will bring in a harvest pleasing to God, and we can find that list in verses twenty-two to twenty-six, in chapter five. And always keep in mind, you cannot fool God, so don’t even try. You cannot outwit God by bringing something manufactured by the flesh and pass it off as having been motivated by the Spirit. Cain could not do it in the beginning, and we cannot do it now.

It appears that Paul is using a double-edged sword here. First, to the members, he is saying that you pay for what you get.  In other words, if your congregation is known for not supporting the pastor or financing the church’s outreach, then don’t be surprised if pastors with great talent and ability do not answer your call to the pulpit. He warned the teachers and preachers; do not expect something for anything. Just holding credentials as a teacher or preacher does not qualify you for sufficient support when what you teach or preach is boring, useless, self-serving, and spiritually void.

[1] Romans 6:13

[2] Ibid. 8:13

[3] Ibid. 13:14

[4] See Proverbs 22:8

[5] Jeremiah 12:12-13

[6] Hosea 10:12-13

[7] Ecclesiastes 11:1

[8] Revelation 11:10-12

[9] Psalm 126:5-6 – Complete Jewish Bible

[10] Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

[11] James 3:18

[12] Matthew 19:29; Luke 19:29-30

[13] John 6:27 – New Living Translation

[14] Romans 6:22

[15] 1 Timothy 4:16

[16] Titus 3:6-7

[17] Jude 1:21

[18] See Hosea 8:7; 10:12; Proverbs 22:8; Job 4:8 (Cf. 2 Corinthians 9:6)

[19] De Oratore of Cicero, Translated by F. B. Calvert, Published by Edmonston and Douglas, Edinburgh, 1870, LXV, p. 121

[20] Ibid. Translation by E. W. Sutton, Published by William Heinemann Ltd, London, 1967, Bk. II, Ch. LXV (262), p. 395

[21] Ambrosiaster: Commentary on Galatians, loc. cit., p. 32

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s