You Reap What You Sow!
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Have you ever
been a "victim of
circumstance"? Or do
you get exactly what's
coming to you every
By Bernard W. Schnippert
He got away with it! As amazing as it sounds, he got away with a quintuple murder!
This middle-aged, unemployed salesman from a large town in the southwestern United States killed five members of his own family (his wife and four small children) in cold blood, and then walked away from the heinous act scot-free. And he got off because he confessed!
That's right, he confessed. And since he had no attorney present at the confession, and had not been informed of his "rights," he
was released to walk the streets. He absolutely, completely got away with it!
Or did he?
You need to know. For the way in which you answer that question will decide just how vigorously you work at ridding your own life of evils. Your answer will show whether you truly believe in the most important and basic tenet of good and evil, of right and wrong - namely, that God rewards good for good and evil for unrepented evil.
Do you believe it?
The apostle Paul put it in these striking words in Galatians 6:7: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
Do you believe that, really? Do you believe that a person gets what's coming to him or her every single time, without fail?
When it comes to God's spiritual laws, we can feel that sometimes the laws let us down. We feel that sometimes the evil prosper and the righteous don't get their earned reward.
Why? What makes us doubt? We doubt because we see so many apparent exceptions to the rule that the rule itself - that we always reap what we sow - seems to be of little real effect.
Exceptions to the rule?
The first exception that tries our belief about the law of cause and effect is the age-old belief that who you are makes a difference.
We feel that the wealthy or the famous or the powerful can do what they want and yet still prosper.
But this thinking is wrong. For proof, look to righteous Abraham. He was faithful and obedient to God (Genesis 26:5), and increased in wealth and power. Certainly, if ever the law of cause and effect (reap and sow) were to be suspended even just a little, it would be for Abraham. But it wasn't.
For in spite of Abraham's legendary faithfulness, he was not perfect. He unwisely took his wife's handmaid as his concubine and had a child, Ishmael, by her. His wife Sarah became jealous and ultimately demanded that Abraham cast out his son.
And Abraham's reaction? "And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham's sight because of his son" (Genesis 21:11).
Abraham grieved because of the unwise decision he had made. He suffered because of his own mistake. He reaped what he sowed!
Another so-called exception to the rule is the belief that time alters the reap-and-sow principle. That is, if the penalty or reward
for an act doesn't come quickly, it isn't coming at all, and hence the law of cause and effect is broken.
But what if a farmer thought this way? What if just because the seed he planted on Monday hadn't sprouted by Tuesday, it meant it wasn't going to sprout? Or, if it did produce, he would get, say, beets when he had planted carrots?
Ridiculous? Of course it is. But we humans tend to do bad acts and then think we got away with them, or do good and then become discouraged, simply because the pain or pleasure that's supposed to follow takes a while to come.
Solomon said it this way in Ecclesiastes 8:11: "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."
How true! And conversely, how quickly we become discouraged from doing good works if the reward doesn't come back to us almost immediately. Yet, like a boomerang, our good and bad works will always come back to haunt or bless us.
Good intentions don't count
Perhaps one of the most insidious mistakes is to believe that you do not reap what you sow, but what you think you sow, or what you say you sow, or what you wish you had sown, or what you want others to believe you have sown. But realize this: You reap what you actually sow.
How ridiculous it would be if a farmer planted a field full of wheat, thinking he was planting carrots. Would he receive carrots instead of wheat merely because he was innocently mistaken, or because he wished he had planted carrots, or because he told his neighbors he had planted carrots? Of course not. He would reap what he sowed.
So it is with you and me. If we deceive ourselves, even innocently, or deceive others, perhaps intentionally, it makes no difference. Our spiritual crop will be faithful to our acts.
Another common, supposed exception to the cause-and-effect rule is that fallacy that "a little never hurt anybody." As humans, we just naturally tend to believe that evil in small amounts isn't too harmful.
The effect of this false belief can easily be seen in a problem experienced by millions of people worldwide being overweight. It seems incredible that only one cookie, or one piece of cake, or one extra soft drink could make so much difference. So we go blindly on, adding cookies to cake to soft drinks until our waistlines reap the fruits of our illogical thinking process.
So remember: We reap what we sow. God does not say we reap only when we sow a thousand acres of evil or good, but merely that whatever we sow, in whatever amount, will take root and grow. One single seed will sprout as surely as a million acres will.
Effects can't be avoided
The next misconception is that we can erase the effect of evil we have done by doing good.
For example, a few joggers seem to feel that if they exercise they can then eat whatever they want - like two huge chunks of cake with lunch, washed down with two soft drinks - and suffer no ill effects because the exercise they get makes them impervious to harm. It is as if they believe that exercise somehow magically turns the two hunks of cake into a chef's salad without dressing!
Of course, this is not true. And neither does a good work, however admirable, somehow erase an evil seed and cause a crop failure. Certainly, the good work will itself cause a good crop, but it will not destroy the evil. Were that the case, we could sin with impunity as long as we did just a little more good than evil, and our net reaping would be all good. How illogical!
The final error of reasoning that leads us to believe we don't reap what we sow is the belief that we humans are mere victims of circumstances - that our lives are the result of mere luck.
Of course, life is partially beyond our control. Solomon said that the best runner does not always win the race, but that "time and chance happen to them all" (Ecclesiastes 9:11).
But consider: Although time and chance happen in life, as Solomon said, they happen to everybody ("all"). Everyone has good and bad "luck," and in about the same amounts.
So we all have about even chances of success or failure in the end. And, even more importantly, the "luck" we do have is
not the most important or controlling factor in our happiness. Our actions - what we sow (and hence reap) - are the most important factor.
You control the cause
It helps, finally, to see what the supposed exceptions have in common with each other. The answer is that in each case the observer who looks at himself or others and concludes we do not reap what we sow is looking only on outward appearances.
This is the very mistake David almost made in Psalm 73. David saw that, in this world, the wicked sometimes seem to prosper. But when he finally looked inside people, or far ahead in time, or into God's future plans for punishment or reward, he could conclude, "Evildoers shall be cut off; but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth" (Psalm 37:9).
We will reap what we sow!
Think what this means. It means your life is not the result of luck, but of cause and effect. You are not merely a victim of circumstances. You need not worry about luck, politics, who knows who, or whether men will reward you or punish you. God always will, in the end.
If you don't believe this, then you have allowed yourself to fall into one of the errors of thinking explained above. And worse yet, you have allowed yourself to believe the first lie - the lie Satan told Eve when he tempted her with the forbidden fruit.
Do you remember the story? God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would die. Satan told them they would not die. Adam and Eve ate of the fruit because they believed Satan's lie. They believed they would not reap death when they sowed disobedience.
But they were wrong - dead wrong - because they were deceived! But, "Do not be deceived," wrote Paul. "God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7).