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Back to Basics: First Things First

A triangle is a collection of three lines, but three lines alone don't make a triangle. A triangle is a collection of three lines, connected together by three angles. The lines are the pieces our eyes are drawn to, but it’s the angles that give them shape. Eugene Peterson likens these angles to the personal faith disciplines required to give shape to a Christian's life. Angles are essentially unseen. Similarly, prayer, scripture reading, and spiritual disciplines are hidden from public view. People may only see the public speech and the public actions, but our personal life gives shape (and hopefully integrity) to our public life. It's a shame that these very important personal disciplines are neglected. We neglect our prayer life because it is unseen and instead give more attention to what others notice about us.

The apostle Paul knew all about this and the struggle it can be for people of faith. He wrote a letter to a church in Galatia because they were paying too much attention to the outside than the inside angles of faith. He writes in Galatians 6:7-9 (NIV), "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."

You reap what you sow - if a man plans corn he will harvest corn. If a man plants soybeans he will harvest soy beans. In the entire history of the entire world no one has ever planted tomatoes and harvested green beans. It’s a basic truth of life and science! We all know this, except when it comes to our spiritual lives. People (maybe you) claim to want more of Jesus but fail to pray, read their scripture, or move on faith. Instead of prayer, they watch TV. Instead of their Bible, they read the news. Instead of moving on faith, they live in safety. They are not sowing spiritual seed so it really shouldn't come as a surprise that their life is devoid of God!

This also happens in relationships. Marriages fall apart because a man spends more time looking at porn than talking to his wife! It can happen at work. People lose their jobs because they spend more time complaining about what they want than doing what their employer needs. This even happens in school. Students fail tests because they spent more time on Instagram or Fortnite than studying! This passage tells us that God is not mocked, in other words the laws of nature are not circumvented. You can’t expect to harvest something that you don’t sow! If you invest in eternal life you receive eternal rewards, if you invest in this passing life you receive temporary rewards.

You harvest what you plant whether that's in the soil or your relationships or in your soul. Today you are harvesting what you've previously planted because it takes time to receive the reward of harvest. This means you had to have invested before now to reap now. You can't change what you harvest today, but you can change what you harvest tomorrow. You change tomorrow's harvest by today's planting. You have to invest now in order to reap later.

This is the part that so many people struggle with in the spiritual life. If I watch a TV show, I’m entertained instantly and feel good now. Happy Hour is called that for a reason, if you go you can be happy for an hour. Reading your Bible, prayer, going to church, these are long term investments. You might not feel better if you pray now, you might not feel closer to God if you read scripture now, in fact you might feel worse. But, it will pay off. If you're tired of harvesting the same frustration, then decide today to plant something different, plant spiritual seeds, and soon you'll see a harvest of eternal life.