Lent Devotional: Galatians 6:7-10
by Jonathan Haefs
Today’s devotional is authored by John Kegley
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.
Sin is often so deceitful not because it tricks us into believing complete lies but because it tricks us into believing half-truths. For example, sin tends to deceive us into believing that our behavior and actions do not matter to God. After all, if we are justified by faith apart from works, why does our behavior matter before God? If we have already been saved, what difference does it make how we live? Does God really care about how we treat our neighbors, how we behave towards our spouses, how we raise our kids, what we choose to watch on TV, what politician we vote for, and what sexual identity we choose?
Sin wants to make a mockery of our lives by tricking us into believing that our behavior does not matter. Sin wants to make an embarrassment of our lives by tricking us into believing that how we live makes no difference. Have we bought into Satan’s half-truth that because we have already been saved and made right with God that we need not pay attention to how we live? While we often buy into Satan’s deception and allow our lives to become a mockery, Paul leaves no room for Satan to deceive us on this matter: GOD IS NOT MOCKED. We may believe Satan’s lie that God is unconcerned with how we live our lives, but the day is coming when God will render a verdict on our lives, and while if we believe in Christ we need not fear punishment for sin, let us strive to not be among those who “will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15).
How then shall we live?
First, Paul instructs us to not “sow” or live according to our flesh, in such a way that our own desires and personal gratification is all that really matters. One chapter earlier in Galatians, Paul describes the various manifestations of living according to the flesh: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Gal. 5:19-20).
Second, Paul instructs us to “sow” or live according to the Spirit. He summarizes what this means in v.10 when he instructs us to “do good to everyone.” To live life according to the Spirit is to live in such a way that we are focused on the good of those around us and on bearing each other’s burdens. This Spirit lifestyle will produce fruit like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” and will ultimately reap what we have already been promised and assured by faith in Christ, “eternal life” (Gal. 5:22-23; 6:8).
In sum, Paul reveals that while we have been justified by faith alone apart from our own works and efforts, our faith is never alone but always leads to behavior and actions which reflect the Spirit’s work in our life. While I think C.S. Lewis overstates the point, I think the following quote from Mere Christianity encapsulates Paul’s point in Galatians, that although we are not saved by our choices and efforts, our choices and efforts still matter. He writes, ““Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 92).