Life is filled with problems and difficulties, everyone experiences them, but too often Christians bring on many of their own problems by violating the Word of God. If you were to take a hammer and hit your thumb with it, it would cause great pain. It you continued to do this, you would constantly be in pain. It you continued to hit your thumb and yet complain about the pain, you would be a fool. And yet I see this so often in the spiritual realm. People do things that hurt them, such as violating the will of God, and yet complain about the pain. How foolish is this?
The reason we have so much trouble in our lives is because we don't obey God. And when you violate the laws of God, you suffer the consequences. If a man jumps off a twenty story building, what happens? Splat! Why? Was it because God was mad at him that he died? Or are there laws built into life? What is true in the physical is true in the spiritual. There are laws built into life, laws that when violated bring consequence.
We are constantly trying to avoid the consequences of our actions. If you eat a lot of junk food, it will effect your health and most likely your weight. In order to avoid these consequences, we have developed Olestra, a fat substitute, so we can eat chips and ice cream to our heart's content without raising our cholesterol. Over the years, we've developed a multitude of artificial sweeteners cyclamates, saccharin, aspartame so we can drink all the sodas we want without rotting our teeth and expanding our middles. And if you do happen to eat something with actual fat or calories, you don't need to go to the gym to lose weight. All that sweating and huffing and puffing is not needed anymore. Now, you just make an appointment with your friendly local liposuctionist, and for a couple of thousand dollars, he'll suck that fat right out.
In short, what we're constantly trying to do is repeal the law of sowing and reaping, sever the connection between action and consequence; not just with eating and drinking, but in every area of life. It's a universal human urge; people want to enjoy the benefits without paying the price. Take money. Why is the lottery so popular? It's an opportunity to become wealthy without labor. There are other ways to acquire wealth, but they're not nearly as appealing, because they all involve work. That's why we love game shows like "Who wants to be a millionaire?" Just answer a dozen trivia questions, and you're rich - no years of school, no years of working late at the office, no years of sacrificing and saving and investing. Just ten minutes sitting across from Regis and boom! instant wealth. We should ask ourselves why these shows are so popular. It's the appeal of having wealth without having to earn it. It's the appeal of breaking that link between work and reward.
Now, while you may be able to acquire wealth without labor, or reverse the consequences of overeating, there's at least one area of life where the law of sowing and reaping always applies; and that's in our spiritual life. Our character, our relationship with God, our relationships with one another, these are ruled by the law of sowing and reaping. It's part of the moral fabric of the universe. This law can't be overturned by science; it can't be repealed by a winning lottery ticket. It holds fast. Ignoring the law of sowing and reaping only leads to sorrow and regret.
Galatians 6:7 (NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
This is a solemn warning. "Be not deceived..." We deceive ourselves when we think that it doesn't matter what we sow, as long as we mean well; when we think that we can sow and not have to reap.
"...God is not mocked..." That does not mean that a man cannot lift up his nose at God. It does not mean that a man cannot sneer at God, make fun of God, laugh at God. It does not mean that a man cannot try to get away with sowing without reaping. But what it does mean is that in spite of all of this, the rule of God stands. Man can think what he wants to think. Man can deceive himself if he wants to be deceived. Man can be as wicked as he wants. But all of that will not change God's rule. What a person sows, he will surely reap. That rule of God is always operative. It is operative in the natural realm. It is operative in the spiritual realm. It is a law which God has put into the very fabric of the universe. That rule can no more be changed than the rule that we must eat and drink to survive, or the rule that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. God is not mocked, because whatever a man sows, that will he also reap - no matter what.
We may be able to hide our sin from family and friends, but not from God! God not only sees us in the brightness of midday, but He also sees us in the blackness of midnight. What Paul is telling us here is that you don't get away with sin. It's corrodes your soul. It destroys your integrity. It erodes the foundation of relationships, and places a barrier between you and God. And sooner or later, it is going to come out. Sooner or later, you will reap what you've been sowing.
"When Harvard Divinity School dean Ronald F. Thiemann, a Lutheran theologian, suddenly stepped down from his post, he said it was for 'personal and professional reasons.' Then, the Boston Globe filled in the blanks. It said he had been forced to resign after technicians at the school told Harvard officials they had found thousands of pornographic images on his university-owned home computer. Mr. Thiemann had summoned the workers to install a larger hard disk and to transfer the contents of the old disk to it." [World Magazine, June 12 1999]
Did Mr. Thiemann expect to be exposed? Certainly not. But in the sovereignty of God, it did come to light, and the result was a stained career and reputation. But, what if you don't get caught? Sometimes the cover-up works, doesn't it? What if you're never exposed? What then? Well, at the very least, hidden sin weakens our relationship with God. When Christians try to conceal their sin, it distances them from their Lord. It erects a barrier to prayer; it destroys fellowship with Christ. You see, people who think they're "getting away with it" may be able to con everyone around them, every day of their lives, until the day of their death. But they can't con God. God deals with sin.
1 Timothy 5:24-25 (NKJV) Some men's sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. 25 Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.
The writer of Hebrews puts it this way:
Hebrews 4:13 (NKJV) And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Everything we sow eventually bears fruit. It's the law of sowing and reaping. If what we're sowing is bad, then the harvest will be bad. Over and over the scriptures bear witness to this:
Job 4:8 (NKJV) Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same.
Bryan was a man who was terribly negligent in the area of his finances. He was constantly bouncing checks, was repeatedly late on his credit card bills, and often had to park his car several blocks from his house so the repo-man wouldn't be able to find it. One day Bryan re-dedicated his life to Christ and soon began to get serious about straightening out his financial life. He made some drastic changes - started balancing his checkbook, moved from his expensive apartment to a cheap rooming house, and put a "For Sale" sign on his truck. Before he could sell it, though, he was in a wreck. No one was hurt, but he soon discovered that he didn't have insurance, because his insurance check had bounced a couple of months earlier - before he began trying to straighten out his finances. Now he was responsible for $4,000 worth of repairs to the other person's car, plus he had to pay for the repairs to his own vehicle before he could sell it. About that time he got a letter from the IRS. They had found a mistake in a previous return and informed him he owed an additional $1200. He realized he needed to get an additional part-time job, but he didn't have transportation; he was having a difficult enough time getting to his full-time job.
Needless to say, Bryan became totally discouraged. He said to a friend, "I have tried as hard as I can possibly try, but it's just no use. I don't know if this is God testing me or torturing me, but I've got a monkey on my back, and it looks like I will never get my finances straightened out."
Bryan was not experiencing some mysterious phenomenon; it's the Law of the Harvest. You reap what you sow.
The insurance and IRS problems weren't God's way of getting even with Bryan. He was simply reaping what he sowed. For years he had sowed the seed of financial irresponsibility, and even though his commitment to straighten out his life put him on the right track, it didn't change the fact that there was still some harvesting left to be done in his life.
What about forgiveness? Doesn't God forgive us when we confess our sin? Yes, we are promised forgiveness in:
1 John 1:9 (NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Bryan had been forgiven, but there were still some consequences to deal with. There's an old joke that some people spend all week sowing wild oats, then go to church on Sunday and pray for crop failure. It just doesn't work that way.
Forgiveness doesn't mean the consequences of our actions go away. If you've been robbing banks and then suddenly repent and ask God to forgive you, he will forgive you, but you still have to deal with the consequences left over from your life of crime - you have to face the law. If you've been having an affair and then repent and ask God to forgive you, he will forgive you, but you still have to deal with consequences your actions have left on your marriage. If you've been yelling at your children and belittling them every day for the last ten years, and you repent of this sin and ask God to forgive you, he will, but you still have to deal with the consequences your actions have left on your relationship with your children.
David confessed his sin to God, and God forgave him, but he still suffered as a result of his sin.
2 Samuel 12:9-15 (NKJV) 'Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. 10 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.' 11 "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 'For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.'" 13 So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 "However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die." 15 Then Nathan departed to his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and it became ill.
God forgave David. Nathan said, "The Lord also has put away your sin". But he still had to reap the harvest of his sinful actions.
The law of the harvest is not just negative, we reap what we sow, and when you sow good things, the harvest will be good:
Proverbs 11:18 (NKJV) The wicked man does deceptive work, But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.
Hosea 10:12 (NKJV) Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
James 3:18 (NKJV) Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
In 1978, two women began their own business - Wetherill Associates, Inc - in an industry you wouldn't typically associate with women entrepreneurs; automobile parts. Wetherill rebuilds and distributes replacement car parts.
The founders (Marie Bothe and Edith Gripton) had the idea to develop a business based on ethical practices; they wanted their company to be a living example of the maxim: "Right actions lead to right results. Wrong action leads to wrong results."
As part of their training, employees were taught to apply ethical standards to all matters of their job performance. For example, sales people were told never to pressure customers, never to discredit competitors, never to use negative sales tactics, and -most of all - under no conditions were they to lie.
So what are the chances a company led by two idealistic women can survive in the dog-eat-dog world of used car parts?
Most people who were asked that question in 1978 laughed condescendingly. But they're not laughing anymore.
Twenty three years later, Wetherill Associates is still going strong. Sales are in the hundreds of millions; profits are in the tens of millions, and the company is debt-free.
You've probably been told before that you have to cut ethical corners in order to succeed in business. This kind of thinking has even worked its way into the ministry. In contrast, God's word reminds us of the real truth: You will reap what you sow. We see this happening all the time; sowing and reaping, deed and consequence. Let me ask you some questions: "What are you sowing in your life right now? How did you spend last week? Are you giving any thought to what you're going to harvest from the seeds you're planting right now? Are you seeking to please God, sowing seeds of obedience and service? Or are you sowing seeds of sin that will produce a crop of judgement?" Our words, actions, and decisions are more significant than we can possibly know. They echo through our lives and the lives of everyone we meet; they reverberate into eternity.
What are you sowing in your children's lives? What are you teaching them? Are you teaching them? What kind of example are you setting? How are you preparing them to walk with Christ?
What are you sowing in your own spiritual life? Are you reading the Bible? Are you praying? Are you cultivating a relationship with God? Or are you neglecting your spiritual life? What kind of harvest are you expecting? Are you sowing seeds to produce a strong faith, joy, and peace?
What are you sowing in your relationship with your spouse? Criticism? Neglect? Disapproval? You shouldn't be surprised if those seeds produce a harvest of thorns and thistles. Or are you sowing encouragement, praise, and attention? The harvest of those seeds is love.
What about your relationships with others? Are you sowing peace, or discord? What are you filling your mind with? How are you spending your time and money? What kind of seeds are you planting in these areas? What kind of fruit are you expecting?
We don't have a choice as to whether the law of sowing and reaping is going to apply in our lives. "A man reaps what he sows." We don't have a choice whether the seeds we plant are going to bear fruit. And we don't have the option of harvesting good fruit without first planting the seeds. The only choice we have is what kinds of seeds we're going to plant. The choices you are making today, the actions you are taking today, with respect to your family, your marriage, your children, your relationship with God, your time and money these will bear fruit; either good fruit that will bring you joy, or bad fruit that will bring you heartache and sorrow. You have to decide; which will it be?
Now at about this time, I expect that some of you are starting to form some objections, some questions. Because this law of sowing and reaping, although absolutely true, is not necessarily simple in its application. For example, sometimes the "good fruit" doesn't look all that good to us. We do our best to obey God, we pray, we read the Bible, we speak the truth, we seek peace with others, we stay faithful to our spouses, and we love our kids. And yet, things still go wrong; conflict, bitterness, angry words, betrayal, tears, sorrow. What gives? I thought that if I sowed good things, I would receive a good harvest. Let's look again at Paul's words:
Galatians 6:7-9 (NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
"Let us not grow weary..." This word means: "to cease, give up, lose heart, despair." It is used elsewhere in the Scripture as a warning against fainting or giving up.
2 Thessalonians 3:13 (NKJV) But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
Paul exhorts the believers against growing weary in doing good.
Paul thought it necessary to caution us against becoming weary. He spoke about reaping a harvest "in due season" Why? Because sometimes the harvest doesn't come when we expect, or when we desire. Sometimes the "harvest" takes months, years, decades. Sometimes we're unaware of who we've influenced; the fruit appears when we're not around to see it. And, in some cases, the harvest just doesn't come in this life at all. Our reward is "Well done, Thou good and faithful servant."
Here's another thing: Not only does the fruit sometimes appear at a time we don't expect; sometimes it appears in a form we don't recognize as good fruit. We were expecting strawberries, and we got potatoes. Sometimes the result of obedience is not an improvement in our circumstances, but a strengthening of our faith and a refining of our character. God, in His wisdom, defines that as good fruit, even though we may be looking for something else.
So, what should we be doing? Just doing whatever we feel like, and hoping for the best? A garden treated that way would produce nothing but weeds. We need to reflect on how we're living, we need to consider what kind of seeds we're planting with our life. We need to work diligently to plant the right kind of seeds, so we won't be disappointed at harvest time:
Proverbs 20:4 (NKJV) The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.
We need to place our trust and confidence in God. Only he can produce a good harvest. It's by His power and grace, and not because of our effort, that good fruit comes.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NKJV) I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
Finally, what about the bad seed we've already sown, the sins we've already committed, the months or years that have been wasted? Well, you may have to endure the consequences of your sin. You may need to accept that you're going to be reaping some bad fruit. Maybe you're experiencing that right now maybe you're suffering the consequences of your past actions. What you need to do is to start sowing good seed and hang on until that harvest starts to come in.
This is important to understand. Your life today is the harvest of what you planted before. You are, today, reaping what you have sown in the past - both good and bad. When you decide to make changes in your life, there is a period of time during the process that you still have to deal with junk from yesterday. It doesn't just magically go away.
Don't let this entice you to quit. Don't let the fact that you may still have some consequences to face become an excuse for giving up. Remember the Law of the Harvest. If you are now sowing good seed, you will eventually reap a good harvest. It's just a matter of time. Don't give up.
There are two things to keep in mind about the Law of the Harvest:
1. You reap later than you sow; i.e. you sow in the spring and reap in the fall. Sowing and reaping are separated by time. Sowing is the beginning of the process, while reaping is the culmination of it. When the farmer sows his field, he must do so in faith, trusting that all of his efforts will eventually be worthwhile. Nearly everything which the farmer does, he does in the light of what he hopes to be the outcome; so it is with the spiritual life. It is true that, for the present, holding fast to the gospel of God's grace will often result in present denial and suffering. The principle of sowing and reaping reminds us, however, that our sowing will ultimately be rewarded by our reaping
2. You reap more than you sow; i.e. you sow a tiny little apple seed, and you reap (eventually) a huge tree that produces countless apples. You ask a farmer how much corn seed he is planting, & he might reply, "Oh, 15 or 20 bushels."
Then you ask him, "How many bushels do you expect to harvest?" And if he answers again, "15 or 20 bushels," you'll wonder about him, because that doesn't make any sense at all, to expect to harvest only what you have sown. But that is not the answer he will give. He'll say, "I expect to reap wagon loads of corn. I expect to reap much more than I sowed." You see, the great principle of sowing & reaping not only tells us that we will reap what we sow, but also that we will reap more than we sow.
Often we find ourselves wishing things were different, wondering how events occurred, and the answer is that we made some choices, and the results were inevitable.
You may remember Aesop's fable about the shepherd boy and the wolf. He found tending his sheep tiresome, so he ran toward the village shouting, "Wolf! Wolf!" The villagers came running to drive off the wolf, and there was no wolf. Well, that was great fun, so he did it again every now and then. The people would always come running, and no wolf. Then one day a wolf really did come. The frightened boy yelled, "Wolf! Wolf!" but no one came. If you had asked him as the wolf was killing all the sheep, "Did you intend for this to happen?" he would have said, "No! I was just having a good time. I was just bored. I was doing this innocently, I thought." But his choices had established him as someone who couldn't be believed, and that cost him dearly.
That's the argument that Paul is making here. Eventually, when the crops begin to grow, and you wish they wouldn't, it's too late to say, "This isn't what I meant to have happen." What you reap is what you have sown, not what you wish for. So, if what your reaping in your life isn't what you want, start sowing good seed. Start living your life in accordance with the will of God, and you will eventually see a good harvest.