Reaping and Sowing (The Gospel Lived…)

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Text: Galatians 6:1-18
Full Sermon Draft

This was the final installment of the series on Galatians. In chapter 6 of Galatians Paul does two things. In the sermon I reversed the order in the sermon because it makes more sense for a congregation or someone listening for the first time. First Paul gives a concrete glimpse of what living the Gospel looks like. He does that using three images:
1) The image of confession and absolution. We all fall and all need to be restored.
2) The contrasting of images of the burden of the labor of day and the load of a ship’s cargo. One we are to help carry for each other. The other we carry ourselves into the final port. The quick summary of this contrast would seem to be: Be quick to take part with the people of God in the work of the Kingdom, while watching and maintaining your personal spiritual life regardless of the work of others.
3) The image he dwells on the most is sowing and reaping.

Paul applies sowing and reaping to three places:
1) Ministry – What does this gospel look like? A shared ministry where the teaching of the word is supported and respected.
2) Personal Holiness – The harvest starts with what you sow. Sow to yourself, and you will reap destruction. Sow to virtue and you will reap eternal life.
3) Good Works (the outgrowth of personal holiness) – If you are well taught and active in the word, if you are sowing to the Spirit through virtue, we do not tire of doing good – first at home with the family of faith and then to others.

After his concrete statement on the gospel lived, Paul returns to his major points: Apostleship, grace and Walking in the Spirit.

I started the sermon with some personal pondering. I probably should have cut it out as not really on point, but Paul’s swift conclusion got me pondering those things. Paul gets to the end and what do you say? How do you end an address on the Christian life. (Galatians may very well have been the first such letter ever written). Elsewhere Paul collapses into greet so-and-so and laundry lists of good wishes. Here, he concludes simply with what we know as the apostolic greeting: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (Gal 6:18 ESV)” Which in the context I take as a sending. Go live the Gospel. God live by grace through the spirit. In that faith and in that Spirit, brothers and sisters. We want so much tied up neatly. But so much of the Christian life – the freedom of the Gospel – is untidy. Go live it. Fail at it. Come back for repentance and absolution. And try again. But in the midst of that struggle we have peace. The Lord Jesus Christ bought it on the cross and now lives and reigns to all eternity. What are our struggles compared to that?

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