Enjoy summer’s bounty! With abundant rainfall nature explodes with prolific beauty.
This is also the season of growing in preparation for harvest sowing. Take care now and plant wisely so that later you can reap many blessings. We are blessed with fruits and vegetables, for instance, which when properly planted and cared for can produce nutritious and satisfying food later.
What does sowing fruits & vegetables have to do with spirituality? 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 sow 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).
Material reality is governed by the laws of physics, chemical and biological processes, and mathematics. In comparison, qualities of the spiritual realm involve mighty virtues such as love and truth, which shape a moral and ethical universe with an interesting spillover into physical life. Spiritually aware people recognize that both the natural and supernatural worlds exist simultaneously, each with causes and effects and with one realm able to influence the other.
Paul’s statement about reaping what is sown indicates that even God’s followers are not free from consequences. A person’s actions produce effects: good, bad, and just about everything in-between. The warning is that certain behaviors and attitudes result in unpleasant effects. Get angry, for instance, and not only will your blood pressure rise and muscles tense (a bad physical effect) but you may also elicit a harsh response from the person receiving your anger (a bad social consequence).
Consider for a moment Hinduism, another religion that recognizes the cycle of causes and effects. Karma is a Hindu concept that describes how a person’s actions accumulate, thereby affecting them for both good and bad. However you refer to it, many things in life are connected and there are chain effects and causes, revealing relations between and within the physical and spiritual universes.
The laws of the universe apply to everyone, except in the case of miracles where something happens that defies a usual explanation. It may be tempting for a person to excuse himself from consequences but everyone is accountable. Belief in God and having great faith doesn’t mean that cause and effect no longer apply.
Humans are spiritual beings integrated with their physical body. Yet people are comprised of matter and thereby governed by physical laws with potentially dire results when those laws are ignored. As people of faith it is our privilege and responsibility to help others realize that poor choices generate negative effects from which God may not miraculously swoop down and rescue them. In other words, don’t blithely rely on miracles to get someone out of trouble.
Miracles disrupt the natural order in certain circumstances but God isn’t obligated to put someone in a miracle bubble to protect them from bad decisions. God provides people with minds and sources of knowledge to help make good choices. So it isn’t the wisest course for someone to live as if angels will rescue them every time they make a mess. Cut yourself with a knife and you’ll bleed; place your hand in a fire and you’ll get burned. Yes, God is merciful and gracious but it is reckless to assume God will alter the universe to suit your whims and foolishness.
Paul was concerned about people indulging the flesh, which refers to a delusional, rampant pursuit of self-destructive pleasure. Paul’s mission to spiritually awaken his audience meant that he contrasted spiritual living against peoples’ tendency to be slaves of desire.
As spiritual beings humans have a much deeper 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. This means that living mindfully in the moment is always great advice.
If you seek a close relationship with God then Paul encourages you to sow love and diverse forms of goodness. In doing so you will generate wonderful future results. As you garden or simply observe nature’s glory consider what it is that you are spiritually sowing. Along with your beans and blueberries also plant seeds of compassion and justice. As you do, you can expect a harvest of soul food for which no bushel of fruits or vegetables can substitute. –Reverend Larry Hoxey