Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever 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.
Paul is moving to the thrill-packed conclusion of his letter, pointing out that God cannot be mocked. In saying this, it is important for us to note that he is speaking in a specific context of flesh vs. Spirit. His major point then, is that we cannot follow Jesus by living a life dedicated to ourselves, our wants, likes, preferences and desires.
I’m, writing this and trying to think of an example of this “mocking” scenario, and the first thing that pops into my head is an example I hesitate to use, not wanting to appear to be too harsh… but consider this one: People who are always late for church. Yes, I’ve heard the excuses, they forgot to set the alarm… 10 weeks in a row. The wife takes forever to get ready, can’t get the kids going that early, blah blah blah! Funny thing: They get the kids to school on time, they get to work on time, but on Sunday it simply isn’t possible… and church is later than work or school. Now, let’s be candid, these good folks aren’t fooling me, so they aren’t fooling God either. They just don’t care very much about worshiping God; they can do it on their own terms, when they want. This is “flesh” speaking, and if this sounds wrong to you, please reread “Rebellion.”
There are plenty of other examples, and you may think this one is cutting too fine a line; maybe you’re right! Yet Paul is talking about priorities here, where do our priorities lie? Are they on the things of God, or are they on the things of the earthly life? Yes, I agree that timeliness may be a small matter, but it does reveal our priority systems. How much more serious would it be if these priorities extend into other areas? Something to think about…
In any case, Paul’s point is crystal clear, if we are focused on the flesh, things won’t always turn out so well. If we are focused on the Spirit, the rewards more than cover any inconvenience we might endure. Therefore, as much as is possible, we should “do good” for others, for this is pleasing in God’s sight, because it is an active expression of God’s love in our lives.
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What an excellent example!
I’d like to add to your list getting up during services to go to the bathroom. I’ll bet they don’t go that often while watching a TV program. It interrupts everything. I just don’t understand it. Your comment about late people reminds me of what I tell (that they don’t hear) drivers on the highway who are speeding: “If you’d gotten up 15 minutes earlier, you wouldn’t be running late.” I love them, but don’t understand them.
I remember the late speech I once heard from a football coach having to do with people who think that their free time is more important that his free time. It was really a great speech about life’s priorities and showing respect to others but, in the end, I think it was the many miles the whole team had to run when one guy was late to practice that really drove the point home 😊