GRACE TO GROW
Sow to the Spirit
Jerry A Collins
v How do I help a sinning believer?
v What am I sowing and reaping spiritually?
v What opportunities should I take advantage of?
A few years ago I was raking leaves and doing general yard work in the autumn. It was a beautiful clear bleu skied afternoon—a little chilly—Ruth was pulling weeds and putting the garden to sleep for the upcoming winter season. I finally gathered a nice sized pile of leaves and decided to burn them. After striking the match and inhaling that wonderful leave burning pungent smell I watched the pile light up in a rush. I stood for a moment transfixed by the consuming bellows—I was suddenly startled as I noticed for the first time the intense heat this pile of leaves generated and then was awakened to the fact that this hot burning pile of leaves was in close proximity to our garage. I noticed how close when I watched some of the vinyl siding begin to melt! Yes, melt! I frantically tried to put this blaze out with my plastic rake—I stopped this absurdity and then could only stand by and watch all of the siding melt and sag in the intense heat. I was sick—Ruth decided to walk over right at this moment! Some sin is just like that. It is not calculated or premeditated—you just get caught off guard and overcome. Our new freedom is to be used in sacrificial service toward specific kinds of people. We have 4 of them here.
1. RESTORE A SINNING XIAN
Brethren indicates we are dealing with a family problem here. So believers have an obligation to one another. This is family business we are to attend too.
Caught indicates that this sin catches and overtakes a person. It was not anticipated but even unexpected it has somehow now overpowered the believer. The scope and guilt and consequences are overwhelming.
Restore So what are we to do for this person? In 1 Cor 5 responsibility is to remove the sinner. In Matt 18 the responsibility is to reprove the sinner. Here responsibility is to restore the sinner. A word used for the mending of nets or the setting of bones. A procedure that could bring healing and strength and restoration to the sinning believer. It is believers who walk by the Spirit and have a degree of spiritual knowledge and maturity that step out here. This is delicate work, sensitive work, encouragement and support and correction must be done gently (2 Tim 2:24-26; 2 Thess 3:14-15; 2 Cor 10:1). Restoration takes time and is a process intersecting many areas.
Tempted being conscious that noone is immune from falling into and being overtaken by sin. Don’t assume this could never happen to you. It could. It might.
Bearing so we lend a helping hand like this and when we do we are fulfilling the law of Christ—the law of love or a reference most likely to what Christ both taught and did on earth (Peter—get behind me Satan etc.,). This burden is something the believer is not able to bear—guilt, controlling power of the sin, damaging consequences. So we are our brothers keeper and we assume responsibility for the restoration and recovery of a fallen family member.
2. BEAR OUR BURDENS
3 Here is how we must deal with burdens—humbly. Watch out for the beam in your own eye Jesus tells us—in other words understand your own burdens as you take responsibility for the delicate surgery required for others. Don’t be high-handed our haughty—remember this motto-we are nothing—not we are something! Otherwise you will deceive yourself into thinking you are above failure. We should never shy away from restoration ministry—saying I am not worthy to attempt—but do not do so proudly.
4 The remedy is to examine or test yourself—that is your own actions. Don’t do that by comparing your actions with others—you can always find someone that makes your actions look superior. Step back and objectively look at yourself—your actions then you can boast in what God has done in and thru your life.
5 So we must bear others burdens not impose burdens on them by condemning them or legalistic rule-keeping. Then we should humble ourselves remembering God will judge us individually not by comparing us with others. We each have our own load to bear. This load is different—like a soldiers knapsack. Burdens all our own we are meant to shoulder. Jesus assured us these kinds of burdens are light.
3. SHARE WITH YOUR TEACHERS
6 The responsibility here is with the ones who are taught. So we are obligated only to those who teach us. This is not a general responsibility we have with everyone who is teaching the Word. If you are learning and growing through another’s teaching then you have a responsibility to hem as well. That responsibility is to share it says all good things. One of these is financially. Another would be esteem and appreciation and fellowship. Just as the teacher is sharing good things of God’s Word so the taught shares all good things with the teacher as well. So (1) teachers ought to be supported by the people they teach. (2) Giving should be a desire of the taught not a demand of the teacher. It should be initiated but not coerced.
7 Each sower (the one sharing all good things), by the way, decides what his harvest will be. First a warning—God cannot be mocked. In other words, no one can turn their nose up in the air at God disagreeing with this law. A person will reap what he sows. This is true for everyone. You cannot get away from that!
8 There are two kinds of harvesting we can expect. One is reaping corruption. That is a harvest which will fade into oblivion. It will have no lasting value here or in eternity. That kind of reaping is result of sowing to please your own sinful nature. So you end up spending and investing to indulge your flesh or shortsighted this side of the grave indulgence. The other reaping is eternal life. This kind of giving is sown of the Spirit and brings an everlasting return. This kind of sowing is consistent with sharing all good things with your Bible teacher and spiritual instructors. So the ‘law of the harvest’ is the assurance that such reaping will take place. You will carry into eternity the product of your investment in this life. Life is too short and the stakes too high to live fleshly lives.
9 We can become discouraged with spiritual sowing because the harvest often takes a very long time. So do not become weary about this and give up—throw your hands in the air! Everything is in God’s timing. The further out the reward the more virtuous your life will be.
4. DO GOOD TO ALL
Whenever the occasion arises, do good to all. Jesus fed both saved and unsaved. Do all the good you can to all the people you can all the time you can. This is especially true when we can do this for other believers. This is not just social activism but a sowing in the Spirit. Hat xian responsibility we have to one another (Rom -21).
(1) We have to take seriously sin that overtakes lives of believers. This is no guarantee they will listen or be changed by our caring but restoration removes a problem they are having with God. (2) Each of us will manage burdens custom designed for us. Physical, financial, mental, relational, educational. Bear it as a cross you have from Christ.
(3) Be a magnanimous giver to your spiritual teachers & to all. Don’t hoard—give generously of all yours.