Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Galatians 6:7)

When we read the Bible, it’s important to consider context. If Galatians 6:7 were taken as an absolute statement, something always true in every case, then no one would go to heaven and the Bible would contradict itself. This isn’t a law of karma or the principle of attraction; this is a true statement in its context, considering what comes before and after the verse.

Sowing and Reaping

In the verse before (Galatians 6:6), Paul told believers to support those who teach them in the faith, to “share in all good things” with them. This is a basic, though sometimes neglected spiritual principle. Those who feed and bless believers spiritually should be supported materially (1 Corinthians 9:11, 9:14, 1 Timothy 5:17).

Therefore, for those who are hesitant to “share in all good things” (Galatians 6:6) with those who teach them, Paul reminded them of God’s principle of sowing and reaping. Their giving would not be like throwing away money; it would be like planting seeds, and whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Paul’s main point was not that God’s people should support those who teach them because it is good for the teacher. Rather, they should be supported because it is good for the one who is taught and shares, shown by the principle of reaping and sowing.

This is clearer when we consider the verse after Galatians 6:7. There, Paul wrote of sowing to the flesh and sowing to the Spirit, and the harvest gained by each kind of sowing. If believers want to reap to the Spirit, they should not hesitate to sow to the Spirit with whatever resources God gives them.

The farmer reaps the same as he has sown, but not exactly. The apple seed doesn’t merely grow more apple seeds, but more apples containing seeds. Even so, when we sow to the Spirit – even with material things – what we reap is not necessarily material things, but something better: we reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:8). We don’t give as a crude “investment” or money-making scheme, though believers are confident they will never be the loser for giving.

In context, the statement whatever a man sows, that he will also reap has application beyond giving and supporting teachers and ministers. It applies generally: what we get out of life is often what we put in. Yet, if only good people received good things from God, then we would all perish – because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Here, Paul simply relates the principle of sowing and reaping to the way resources are managed (as in 1 Corinthians 9:11 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-10).

We may fool ourselves by expecting much when we sow little, but we cannot fool God and the results of our poor sowing will be evident. When managing what God gives to you, sow abundantly and reap abundantly.

Click here for David’s commentary on Galatians 6