Do Good in the Power of the Spirit: Galatians 6:6-10 (Sermon)
Do you have a garden? What is in it? We planted kale, watermelon, tomatoes, flowers, cucumbers, peppers, and broccoli. We water it, weed it, Fence it, and wait for it. Eventually, it will bear the fruit of our labor. I love fresh tomatoes. How about you? What is in your garden?
Have you ever planted weeds? It seems like they come up naturally. We wouldn’t sow creeping charlie, dandelions, or poison ivy. We want to sow good things. However, our decisions can naturally bring out some rotten fruit in life. By the choices we make, we either are planting to please God or ourselves. We are sowing good or evil to the Spirit or the flesh. How do we grow good things and not bad? What does it look like? The text today has an answer.
We are near the end of the series in Galatians: one week left. Paul has spent most of the time telling us that we have eternal life not by actively obeying the works of the Law. Now, in five verses, he will add a nuance that could be confusing: we should do works, good works. We should do good using a farming image. Let’s go to the text to make sense of this.
I have T.T. reading for us. If you can, would you stand with me in honor of God’s Word?
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 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. (Galataians 6:6–10)
Thank you. Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for your Word. Thank you for your guidance in life. Help us understand it and how it relates. Help us put our faith into action by the power of the Holy Spirit. Please help us do good to everyone. Help us in Jesus’s name, amen. You may be seated.
By way of reminder, Paul, the Apostle, wrote Galatians as a corrective to some erroneous teaching. He was there in the church’s beginning. Then, he left to plant and encourage churches. While away, false teachers came in and distorted the Christian message. They were teaching that we are justified, or made right before God, by doing works of the Old Testament Law: like the command to circumcise all males. Looking at the text, certain holidays and other laws may have been important to these false teachers. Regardless of which rules they thought the church needed to follow, Paul refuted them over four chapters. In chapter 5, we hear how all these theological truths should flow into the community of faith. Our theology is to impact our activities. For example, we are free from the Law of Moses; however, that freedom doesn’t mean we can live however we please. We must obey a new law, the law of love, the law of Christ. That means we must walk out our faith by helping one another in the power of the Spirit because Christ loved us first. This fits with the overall theme of Galatians, “Return to the gospel of grace so you can walk in freedom with the spirit”: avoid #Gospeldrift.
The passage's main idea is to sow to the Spirit by doing good to everyone. Let me repeat: sow to the Spirit by doing good to everyone.
The passage describes three groups of people we are to do good toward:
Verse 6 talks about doing good to church leaders. In verses 7 and 8, Paul told why doing good through the Spirit is essential. Then, in verses 9 and 10, Paul expanded on the scope of his command to everyone and one focus group.
DO GOOD TO PASTORS
Verse 6 starts, “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches” (Galatians 6:6). Paul said those who preach and teach the Word deserve remuneration. (I like that word because it sounds and looks funny.) Remuneration is another word for compensation. We should do good to those who do us spiritual good. Using language from last week, we should help those who help us. By the way, Paul was not saying this to get a raise. He was a tentmaker. He had a side gig that helped pay the bills. He didn’t want any money to interfere with his ministry. He didn’t want someone accusing him of fleecing people or teaching for hire. Most of our missionaries don’t ask the people they work with to support them. Yet, they could. Paul defended paying preachers and teachers and pastors and missionaries in verse 6. He also endorsed this perspective in his letter to the Corinthian church. If you have a Bible, keep your place in Galatians and move back a few books to 1 Corinthians chapter 9, starting at verse 8. Paul will rely on logic, the Old Testament, and a farming analogy to communicate his point.
Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not certainly speak for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more?
Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.
But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. (1 Corinthians 9:8–15)
Thus, if people contributed to priests, farmers, and cows, how much more should we do good with those who share with us the good news.
That being true, I don’t have an outside job as a pastor. Your tithes and offerings support Joe, Mike, Jeff, and myself. On all of our behalf, thank you. Thank you for your generosity. My family thanks you. When you give to the church, a significant portion affords us the privilege of serving the youth, serving in counseling, serving in Sunday school, serving in men’s ministry, serving the seniors, and doing evangelism. We pray for the sick and plan our teaching full-time because of your generosity. We don’t have to worry about money as we may if we had to work a different full-time job. Thank you. You make service a joy. You have done well obeying Galatians chapter 6, verse 6. This verse flows from the previous verses about helping others by the Spirit.
DON’T BE DECEIVED
Paul knew that giving would not always be easy. Sometimes we want to sit back and relax and enjoy ourselves. We have the freedom to. We should, at times. That is not always selfish. Yet, we can abuse that freedom in Christ and neglect the call of the Spirit to serve one another in love. This neglect leads back to the flesh, which Paul will discuss next. Look at verses 7 and 8 of Galatians chapter 6.
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. (Galatians 6:7–8)
Why did Paul say don’t be deceived? Some may have thought they could pull a fast one over God. And some may have thought they could use their freedom in Christ to indulge themselves more than they should. Maybe, some thought that helping others and doing good would earn them salvation. Whatever they were considering, a tendency existed toward self-deception. We, too, can forget the spiritual truths that have changed us and stray from the path the Spirit would take us.
In the last chapter, Paul talked quite a bit about the works of the flesh. Look at chapter 5, verse 16.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do…. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:16–21)
The principle of sowing to the flesh results in corruption. What does that mean? They get the opposite fruit and inheritance, a whirlwind of disappointment, death, and eternal destruction. We don’t want that. Do we? Often this takes a while to see as the fruit. But the end is sure. Just look at those who have it all but invest in the flesh. We sensationalize their downfall in the news.
On the other hand, if we invest in the Spirit, Paul wrote, “The one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). Eternal death and life are at stake with our spiritual gardening. This isn’t hyperbole. Paul was not exaggerating. Does that mean we earn our salvation? No. Remember Galatians chapter 2 verse 16. “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:16). Our work won’t justify us. We are justified by Jesus’s work. Remember also Galatians chapter 1 verses 3 through 5.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:3–5).
Grace is a gift, not remuneration for something earned. In verse 6, Paul wrote that God “called you in the grace of Christ” (Galatians 1:6). In chapter 2, verse 21, Paul wrote, “for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Galatians 2:21). Jesus died to forgive us sins and convey God’s eternal love and adopt us as sons and daughters by faith.
In chapter 3, verses 11 and 12, Paul wrote, “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:10–13). We live by faith. Our faith is evident in what we do. Jesus took our sin and the penalty on the cross when we believed. Finally, we read about God’s grace and mercy in chapter 5, verse 6“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).
So, good works don’t justify us before God. On a closer examination, our good works are evidence that we believe. The reaping and sowing are a result of believing. That belief results from God converting us by the power of the Spirit. If you believe in Jesus, you are saved. If you believe, then the Spirit has acted on your heart and changed your soul and mind so that you have the freedom to sow to the Spirit or the Flesh. You have a choice to make that demonstrates your new identity or old one. You and I are not perfect, but becoming more and more like Jesus on Earth, by grace. Therefore, are you living out of your new identity or old one? Is life only about you or about the Spirit? What are you sowing? We only have 365 days in the year, 52 weeks, seven days a week, and 24 hours a day. What are you doing with your time, money, and energy? Those are finite resources. Where are you investing, planting, and sowing? Let us walk in the Spirit with what we do. Are you banking in your flesh or God’s Spirit? Jesus said a tree would be known by its fruit (Luke 6:44). You act out of your thoughts. Your thoughts flow out of your identity. Whom are you demonstrating you are?
SOWS TO THE SPIRIT
If God wants us to sow to the Spirit, what does that look like? Paul previously wrote, "walk in the Spirit", be "led by the Spirit", "live by the Spirit", and "stay in step with the Spirit". I think these are all related. Sowing relates to not allowing the flesh to have an opportunity to grow in our lives (5:13). Fight the flesh. Make war with sin. Don't plant this invasive species back in your life. On the flip side, sowing to the Spirit is helping those who are straying and struggling. And it is doing good to your spiritual leaders. But that is not all. Keep reading Galatians chapter 6 verse 9.
Verse 9. “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” (Galatians 6:9–10). Planting to the Spirit is doing good. Be a do-gooder in the power and direction of the Spirit. Talk to God, ask him what something good you can do this week or this day is. Listen to him. God created you to do good work. He made you on purpose. Look at Ephesians chapter 2, verses 8 through 10. It clearly states that we are saved by grace but made for God to work through us.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8–10)
What good work can you sow your time, money, and energy to this week by the Spirit?
DUE SEASON WE WILL REAP
I think Jesus had this idea when he talked about using our resources in his Sermon on the Mount. He taught,
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19–21)
Jesus said our good deeds matter to our heavenly Father. In the visions of heaven in the Bible, we read that the Elders take crowns God gave them as a reward and throw them down at Jesus’s feet in worship (Revelation 4:10). Perhaps that is what our treasure will be used for in heaven, worship. Let us store up worship instruments for God. Let us sow to the Spirit and reap the Spirit’s fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.
IF WE DON’T GIVE UP
Go back to verse 9. I have a couple more things to point out. Do you see the phrase “if we do not give up” and the word “weary”? They direct us to the perseverance of the saints. What they tell us is that the reward of God is not instantaneous. Doing good can be costly. Jesus died doing the ultimate good deed, dying for our sin. Most Apostles were killed for their faith. Jeremiah the prophet was thrown in a well and starved. Isaiah was sawn in two. Daniel was thrown into a lions’ den. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were placed into a fiery furnace. Joseph was sent to prison for years.
Sometimes, we might not see the benefit or reward after doing the right thing. You might get crucified for it. That doesn’t mean our efforts are wasted. Don’t stop doing good if it is costly. Take the long view. Wait for the fruit. The season of watering, weeding, and waiting may be long. Walk in the Spirit. He may say, “give when it hurts”. He may say, “stop and rest”. Let us take time to pray about how God is leading. Listen to God. Don’t stop following him. Don’t grow weary or lose heart. Our trials have a purpose. God said,
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)
Hang in there. Sow to the Spirit by doing good to everyone.
DOING GOOD TO
Let us do good to everyone. Everyone? Yeah. Even those who hurt us? Even our enemies. What would that look like? Well, it could be as simple as a prayer for God’s grace and mercy on their souls headed to corruption and destruction. Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. So do we (Matthew 5:43–48)? Think of what would happen if God answered our prayers and our enemies came to Christ? Think about what would happen if, like Paul, they changed from breathing out murderous lies, sowing to the Spirit by doing good to everyone with the Spirit? That would be amazing! It can happen. Do good to enemies. Do good to neighbors, family members, and friends. Do good to your spiritual leaders. Do good to everyone with the Spirit’s help.
HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH
Paul then wrote that our sowing should be accented toward the body of believers. Doesn’t that seem anti-evangelistic? Well, if people see the love in the body for one another, it is evangelistic. They may praise the Father in heaven because the world doesn’t look or act like that. This is not about doing good to those who are like us. The church is diverse with people hurting and healthy, introverts and extroverts, organized thinkers, and free spirits. God wants us to love each other in a Spirit-filled way. What might it like to sow in that direction? Let’s brainstorm for a moment. Quiet the distractions and listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Pause. Write out in your bulletin, on your phone, or in your head what the Spirit may be prompting you to do this week, to sow to the Spirit this week? Perhaps, you already are.
This passage is all application. It is about doing good to pastors and teachers, doing good to everyone, and doing good to the church. The Holy Spirit has freed us to serve one another in love, to act out of our faith and a new identity. He empowers our “yes” to his voice. We sow out of the Spirit that has given us new life and new ways of living.
Again, this is not about earning salvation. You are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. God saved us, and because of that, we live a life of grateful obedience doing good to everyone. This is what sowing to the Spirit means.
Your good work won’t get you into heaven if you are not a believer in Jesus and the Bible. It may be rewarding, but it is not atoning. You need Jesus’s forgiveness. Just like us. No one is good in an ultimate sense but God. Jesus, the only perfect man, died to take away all our sins. He paid the price with his life. No sin is too big, gross, or scary for God to take care of. Communion was and is a tangible marker of Jesus’s work 2000 years ago. Consider joining us now by faith. Turn from selfishness to Jesus.
Let’s pray. Dear God, thank you for your Word. Your Word is truth. We thank you for it. Work in our lives to bear much fruit. Help us do good to everyone for your glory, in Jesus’s name, amen.