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“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” (Galatians 6:7–9).

IDEAS HAVE EMOTIONAL CONSEQUENCES, AND THE IMPACT THEY HAVE ON US CAN BE COMPLEX. Sometimes a single idea may produce effects that are on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. For example, there are a number of ideas that are both sobering and encouraging at the same time. This is not a problem; it is a blessing.

Writing to the Galatians, Paul wanted to encourage them to remain faithful and keep doing the Lord’s work even when they were persecuted. But he also wanted to warn them of the consequences of unfaithfulness. So he pointed to the process of sowing and reaping: “whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” What emotional effect would it have on these Christians to realize that we will reap what we have sown? If they thought about it, they would be both sobered (a person can’t sow to the flesh and not reap corruption) and encouraged (if we keep sowing to the Spirit, we will reap eternal life; so whatever happens, we must not give up).

Why do texts like this have such a balanced effect on us? It is because both of their points of emphasis are inherent in the character of God. A simplistic view of God would see Him as either a God of love or a God of judgment. The truth, however, is that He is both, and if either component of His character is left out of our thinking, we will be worshiping not the real God but an imaginary God that we have constructed in our own minds.

Even after obeying the gospel, we still need to be reminded of the sobering side of God’s truth (1 Corinthians 10:12). But what if you have not yet obeyed the gospel? What do you need to hear? You need to hear all of the truth that God has revealed about Himself. So study all of the Scriptures. You will be encouraged, but you will also be sobered. To repeat, this is not a problem; it is a blessing.

“The judgment of God is the reaping that comes from sowing and is evidence of the love of God, not proof of his wrath. The penalty of an evil harvest is not God’s punishment; it is the consequence of defying the moral order which in love he maintains as the only environment in which maturity of fellowship and communion can be achieved” (Kirby Page).

Gary Henry — +

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