Scratching Where It Itches

I confess I don’t have the greenest thumb on the block. As a matter of fact, I was thinking it might be easier to just give up on all other greenery and grow a poison ivy garden instead. Except that at this point I’d have to start from scratch.

Scratch? Get it? Anyway, I decided it would probably be better not do anything that “rash.”

That’s because we really do have to be careful what we plant. We will reap what we sow. It’s right there in Galatians 6:7. And according to the verse that follows, not only should we be careful what we plant, but we’re told if we choose to live only to please our own sinful selves, we’ll reap a harvest of death and decay. I think I’ve grown that kind of plant before. But when we’re talking about what we’re growing spiritually, we’re talking about an especially ugly garden. Eternally worse than poison ivy. Don’t even bother with the weed-whacker. Round-Up won’t cut it either.

Take a look at the passage:  “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who 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” (Galatians 6:7-10 NIV).

I love how Paul rounds out his point in verse 9 with an understood “so” when he charges us to “not become weary in doing good.” He lets us know that the harvest kind of thinking and learning to live to please the Spirit instead of the flesh leads to staying energized in doing good things for the Kingdom—leads us to not “give up.” And that leads to a harvest of everlasting blessing.

Our gardening time here is short. We need to stay on task. 2 Timothy 4:2-5 charges us to, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (NIV).

Instead of catering to the poison-ivy-itchy-ears of those who simply want the easy way, and instead of letting them distract us, we’re called to keep our heads and to steadfastly keep on working in whatever ministry God has called us to. The passages in Galatians 6 and 2 Timothy 4 are the kinds of sound-the-charge verses we can put to memory. They can remind us all along the way to stay tenaciously resolute in our service. It’s then that we can become more and more the kind of Christ followers who don’t just tickle itchy ears, but truly scratch those eternal itches.

So, ready to write down those passages? Okay, but first you’ll need some scratch paper.