Scratching Where It Itches
By Rhonda Rhea –
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: “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Galatians 6:7-10 NLT).
I love how Paul rounds out his point in verse 9 with the big “so.” “So let’s not get tired of doing what is 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—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. Second 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? First you’ll need some scratch paper.
Rhonda Rhea is a radio personality, conference speaker, humor columnist and author of seven books, including High Heels in High Places and her newest book, Whatsoever Things Are Lovely: Must-Have Accessories for God’s Perfect Peace. You can find out more at www.RhondaRhea.org.