10 Minutes in God’s Word: Reaping and Sowing Revisited

By Barry Shafer | Director of InWord Resources (, author of Unleashing God’s Word in Youth Ministry (Youth Specialties/Zondervan) and has developed many small-group Bible studies for teens. | May 3 2010

There's a biblical rhythm that's even engrained in pop culture: You reap what you sow. It's a maxim that God wrote into the DNA of the universe, which might explain why Scripture expounds on this truth from many angles. More than a universal maxim, proper sowing is a specific activity to help us thrive in this fallen world until we reach the final harvest.

Jesus' followers had reason to expect Him to return within weeks or months; but months morphed into decades, and followers may have been a little anxious by the time Paul wrote the passage below from Galatians, one of the first New Testament letters written. As you read this passage, look for Paul's plea to endure along with tasks to do while waiting for the final harvest.

Scripture Text

Galatians 6:8-10 (NIV)

The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Think About It

What is "doing good"? The phrase do good can conjure up hundreds of ideas, which may have been God's intent with this passage; but there is something in the Greek word for good that may narrow the search: "Make sure the good you do actually has benefit. It's not busy work. It's not a mission trip just for the sake of a mission trip. It's certainly not a mission trip for the sake of our teens, but rather for the sake of the recipients of the good. I lose sight of this at times.

Do Good to All People

Given the cultural divides of the Galatians era, the phrase "all people" would have struck a chord. Admittedly for us today, some people are easier to do good toward than others. It's easier to do good toward someone we like as opposed to someone we think deserves to lie in the bed he or she made. The word all doesn't give us the option to choose.

Especially the Family of Believers

What an interesting designation. You'd think all people in the previous phrase would cover the "family of believers," but God gave a special nod to a special group. Why? Many reasons come to mind, but given the context one reason bubbles to the top: The family of believers is the crew that helps us survive in this fallen world, the people who help keep us safe until we enjoy the final harvest. Furthermore, they provide the encouragement and energy to keep from becoming weary in doing good. So, take care of the crew.

Apply It

Not to get too "geeky Greeky," but "as we have opportunity" can be rendered "while we have opportunity," as in before the harvest, as in now. So now might be as good a time as any to evaluate all the "good" your youth ministry is doing:

• Is it actually beneficial to the recipient, or is it more for the teens?

• Does it include some aspect of all people?

• Is there opportunity for your youth ministry teens to do good to or for the body of believers?

The final harvest may seem a long way off; but like a child on a long trip, when we have something good to do, the time will seem to pass more quickly.

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