Enjoy summer’s bounty! With abundant rainfall nature explodes with prolific beauty. ‘Tis also the season of growing in preparation for harvest sowing. Take care now and plant wisely so that later you can reap many blessings.
What does sowing vegetables have to do with spirituality? The Apostle Paul in Galatians 6: 7-9 shares insights about spiritual sowing and reaping. “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you so to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6: 7-9).
There’s often tension between forces within the physical universe and the spirit world. Material reality has physics, chemistry and mathematics among the many aspects relating to nature. Qualities of the spiritual realm involve mighty virtues such as love and truth, which shape a moral and ethical universe with spillover into physical life. Spiritually aware people recognize that both the natural and supernatural worlds exist simultaneously, each with causes and effects.
Although the spiritual universe is not limited by the constraints of physical reality, there are interesting parallels between heaven and earth. Paul’s statement about reaping what is sown indicates that even God’s followers are not free from consequences. All actions produce effects, good and bad and just about everything in-between. As to human behavior, Paul’s stark reminder about reaping destruction needn’t be felt like a slap in the face. Paul is making a comparison and the point is to gain spiritual insight so that you can live a better life.
Other religions such as Hinduism also recognizes the cycle of causes and effects. For instance, karma refers to a process akin to a spiritual bank account, where peoples’ attitudes and especially their actions accumulate over time and thereby enhance or detract from their life quality. However you refer to it, many things in life are connected and there are interesting chain effects and causes, revealing relations between physical and spiritual existence.
Aside from the incidence of miracles, the laws of the universe apply to everyone. It may be tempting for even a spiritual person to excuse himself or herself from consequences of bad behavior. A person who thinks this way might believe they are immune from accountability simply because they believe in God and are “mostly” good. According to Paul, this is distorted reasoning. You and I and everyone else are subject to cause and effect. Also, humans are spiritual beings integrated with their physical body. People on earth are comprised of matter and as such they are governed by physical laws with potentially dire results when those laws are violated.
Miracles disrupt the natural order in certain circumstances but God isn’t obligated to put someone in a miracle bubble to protect them from their persistent foolishness. God provides people with minds to help make life-enhancing choices. So it isn’t the wisest course for someone to live as if angels will rescue them every time they deliberately make bad decisions. As people of faith it is our privilege and responsibility to help others realize that poor choices generate negative effects for which neither God nor others should be blamed.
Paul was especially concerned about people indulging the flesh, which refers to a delusional, rampant pursuit of selfish pleasure. Paul’s mission to spiritually awaken his audience meant that he contrasted spiritual living against peoples’ tendency to be slaves to their desires. Part of what it means to be on a spiritual journey is to prioritize life in a way that put matters into proper perspective. Although it can be tempting to live as if there is no tomorrow, as spiritual beings made in God’s image humans have a much deeper and wider potential than to exhaust themselves grasping for the next deceptive distraction. It’s far better to live with a long-term vision of reaping a rich harvest by planting properly in the here-and-now.
If you seek a close relationship with God then Paul encourages you to sow and nurture love and truth which, during life’s harvest times, will lead to a bountiful, blessed harvest. As you do gardening or simply observe nature’s glory consider what it is that you are spiritually sowing. As you receive and share noble virtues you will generate a harvest of soul food for which nothing can substitute.