STUDY | Spend the week studying Galatians 6:1–10. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | The direction I am going (what I’m sowing) will determine my destination (what I reap).
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
SOMEWHERE DOWN THE ROAD
Many people today find themselves where they don’t want to be and wonder how in the world they got there. How is it that people end up in mountains of debt, addictions, life-shattering affairs or criminal activity that puts them behind bars? Because somewhere along the way they made the decision to take one small step. At the time, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. The next step didn’t seem all that significant either. However, each step was going in the wrong direction, and despite countless warning signs to stop, they kept going. Now they have to suffer painful and life-altering consequences.
The steps you take today determine where you end up in the future. This week your group will look at four principles to live by in order to put you on the path towards spiritual growth that bears fruit.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve received about making wise decisions?
Q: What can hinder you from growing spiritually and being fruitful?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
THE HARVEST PRINCIPLE
In Galatians 6:7–8, Paul uses a farming metaphor to illustrate what we call the “harvest principle.” He warns theGalatians, “Don’t be a fool. Don’t mock God by thinking you can get around the principle that you reap what yousow” (6:7). The picture Paul gives them is a harvest field where there are two kinds of ground: the flesh and theSpirit. Each person chooses to sow seeds in one of these grounds with their thoughts and actions. This results in one of two kinds of harvest: destruction or eternal life.
Then Paul exhorts believers to not grow weary of doing good as they wait patiently for the reward of eternal life(6:9–10). They should remain faithful workers who continue to sow seeds in the Spirit, even in the face of afflictionand persecution.
READ: Galatians 6:1–10. In what ways does Paul call the Galatians to support one another in verses 1–6?
Q: Explain the harvest principle in your own words.
Q: How do we mock God when we think the harvest principle doesn’t apply to us?
Q: Recall a time when someone’s warning helped you from making a foolish decision.
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
THE PRINCIPLE OF THE PATH
The harvest principle tells us that choices always come with consequences. Every choice is a step that puts you on a path leading to a destination. The second principle, the principle of the path, is that the direction you are going (what you’re sowing) will determine your destination (what you reap).
Andy Stanley refers to this important principle when he writes:
The direction you are currently traveling—relationally, financially, spiritually, and the list goes on and on—will determine where you end up in each of those respective areas. This is true regardless of your goals, your dreams, your wishes, or your wants. The principle of the path trumps all those things. Your current direction will determine your destination. And like every principle, you can leverage this one to your advantage or ignore it to your disadvantage. Just as there are paths that have led us to places we never intended to be, there are paths that lead us away from those places as well.1
We can choose to walk the wise or foolish path in life. We are responsible to make that choice and will bear the consequences for it, whether good or bad. The Book of Proverbs gives us the same essential message. If you’re not walking the wise path in life, you need to change direction and walk a different path. You can start immediately with one wise step in a different direction.
Q: Describe the differences between the wise and foolish paths.
Q: Share one area in life where you need to change direction.
THE GOSPEL PRINCIPLE
The principle of the path is great, but it’s just good advice on its own. You need something more. You need to understand that God has done something to make real change and growth possible in you.
We all have a big problem that keeps us from changing and growing: sin. Sin makes us think we can violate these principles. It makes us think we’re the exception. Sin simply makes us stupid. It makes us think irrationally and against the basic truth that sinful thoughts and actions result in painful and destructive consequences.
The only time these principles were violated was at the cross, where Jesus reaped death for the sin you sowed. He did this so that you could reap eternal life based on the obedience that He sowed in His life. The third principle, the gospel principle, is that Jesus enables you to change direction away from sin and towards God.
Q: Why do we need something more than good advice?
Q: How does the gospel principle give you hope for real change and growth?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
THE GROWTH PRINCIPLE
In Christ it’s possible to change direction away from sin and towards God. Paul tells us in Romans 8:1–17 that Jesus has set you free from sin’s enslaving power to live by the Spirit instead of the flesh. He has set you free to live differently. The fourth principle, the growth principle, is that God produces change and growth in you when you yield to the Spirit instead of the flesh.
Q: What difference does it make that Jesus has set you free from slavery to sin?
REVIEWING THE PRINCIPLES
Let’s review the four principles:
- The harvest principle – You reap what you sow.
- The path principle – Your direction determines your destination.
- The gospel principle – Jesus enables you to change direction away from sin and towards God.
- The growth principle - God produces change and growth in you when you yield to His Spirit.
The Christian life is about change and growth. It’s about transforming your life to look more like Jesus (2 Corinthians3:18). The gospel makes real change and growth possible. But ultimately, this is God’s work—not yours. It’s God Spirit working in you to do what you can’t do through your own strength and willpower.
Q: If change and growth depend on God, what are you responsible to do?
Thank God for these life-giving principles. Praise Him for His goodness in giving you guidance to have the best life possible with Him. Ask Him to reveal any sin that’s keeping you from spiritual growth and fruit in your life.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read Romans 8:1–17 and reflect on what this passage says about the differences between the flesh and the Spirit.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
Lessons from Wisdom Literature
The harvest principle should be understood as a general rule of life.We all know from experience that sometimes good people suffer misfortune and loss, even though they make goodand wise choices. Wisdom literature like Proverbs shows us that God gives us helpful wisdom to live by. Generally speaking, living by God’s wisdom results in good consequences. However, life is mysterious and random and there are many things outside our control (see Ecclesiastes). In the midst of mystery and randomness, we need to understand that God is always just and wise in everything He does (see Job).
What Kind of Reward?
“Reaping” in Gal. 6:7–8 does not refer to temporary blessings but eternal ones. We should not expect ease and comfort in this life as believers. Paul and Jesus make it clear that we should expect affliction and persecution for our faith (2 Cor. 4:17; John 15:18–21; 16:33).
Free in Christ
“Christian freedom must be understood in the context of man’s two natures. Freedom is a release from the domination of the old and warped within us, and a release which gives the Spirit full reign to produce good fruit. Christian freedom is the capacity, and the strength, to act in love, to know and share joy, to experience and promote peace, and all those other blessings that come only through the Spirit of our God.”2
1. Andy Stanley, The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2008), 15.
2. Larry Richards and Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 910.