Archive for Character Formation

Apr
13

The Law of the Harvest

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Over the weekend I finished It Takes What it Takes, by Trevor Moawad. If you’re unfamiliar with him, he’s a mental coach who works with professional athletes and NCAA athletic programs. The quote that stood out to me from the book is as follows: “You are what you do, and you’ve become what you’ve done.” Simply put, you have to accept the responsibility for the choices that we have made, and if you don’t like what you see in your life, change your behavior(s).

That bold statement reminded me of a verse I’ve been meditating upon for the past two weeks. “Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant” (Galatians 6:7, NLT) You probably are more familiar with older translations which say, “You reap what you sow.”

Paul packed a lot in that simple verse, which is more clearly understood as The Law of the Harvest.

Law #1: You reap what you sow. Simply, if you plant corn, you can expect a harvest of corn, versus beans or wheat. Like begets like.

Law #2: You reap more than you sow. In the world of agriculture, the farmer has faith that the one seed he plants in the ground will yield exponetially more. One seed of corn may produce hundreds of kernels on multiple ears from a single stalk.

Law #3: You reap later than you sow. An experienced farmer knows that it takes many days and weeks for the seed to produce a harvest. The harvest always comes later…sometimes much later than we expect.

The Law of the Harvest reminds me that what I do today will beget something similar, sometimes much greater, somewhere in the future. This principle is neutral. You can plant good seeds of good deeds and habits that reap a greater reward in the future. A person can also plant bad seed which will obey the same principles.

Each day we have the choice before us as to what we will plant. Each seed that is sown is not an isolated act or incidence. It will produce a large return at a later time. So let’s choose wisely each day.

May
21

The Fruit of the Spirit

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The Fruit of the Spirit

If you want to evaluate your Christian maturity, don’t assess your gifts. Don’t bother to measure your ministry involvement. If you want to evaluate your maturity inspect your fruit! Tomorrow I’m beginning a new sermon series from Galatians 5:22-23, on The Fruit of the Spirit. I hope to share some thoughts throughout this series here on my blog!

Sep
15

Fakers: 3

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Before I wrap up this conversation on hypocrisy, I want to make one more observation. Astute Bible readers have learned that first occurrences in any story line are important. That’s what makes Genesis, for example, an important book in the Old Testament. In the story of the emerging church in Acts, this passage about the first instance of God’s discipline should get our attention. What is God trying to say to the congregation then? What is God trying to say to us today?

As for then, I think God was making a statement to the people about character and integrity. Were Ananias and Sapphira the only sinners there? Were they the first to commit a sin? My answer would be no and again, no. So what’s the deal? God was teaching them that the goal of faith is character development that reflects the image of God. This is more important than their (or our, for that matter) attempts to attain some form of sinless perfection. Life is to be lived from the inside out. Hypocrisy attempts to live from the outside in, which is an approach to faith that must be soundly rejected.

The passage concludes in verse 5:11 with the first use of the word ekklesia, which is rendered “church” in our English translations. So what does it mean when we see the first instance of church discipline and the first use of the word church in this narrative account? I recall reading a book on small group ministry where Bill Hybels wrote, “The value of community lies in the possibility of exclusion.” God was trying to take this crowd of passionate believers and shape them into a new society, an alternative community of faith that would pursue the Kingdom of God with every fiber of its being. Authenticity is one of God’s values and should be one of ours as well. Don’t get me wrong, sin is not good and God is holy. But you can’t genuinely possess clean hands without a pure heart, unless you have a thing for legalism.

Participation in God’s new community comes with some stiff demands, and he sets the standard high. Jesus said we must love one another as we love ourselves. Paul’s epistles flesh that principle out even further. We should be discerning about this in our churches today. Not in ways that prescribe litmus tests to our morality and ethics. But in ways that insist on authenticity, character, and integrity that reach beyond whether our baptism is in order and we adhere to doctrinal statements and confessions.

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