You Reap What You Sow
"You reap what you sow" is a concept that exists in every culture and every period throughout history. We paraphrase this concept in lots of ways that are familiar to all of us:
"They got what they deserved"
"You get what you pay for"
"I made the bed, now I have to sleep in it"
"Cause and effect"
"Karma" "Self-fulfilling prophecy"
...and the list goes on. This is often used as wise counsel in helping someone decide what to do. It is also used retroactively to diagnose why something bad happened. But what about those times where we did something good and got something bad? Maybe you did a bunch of favors for someone but felt unappreciated and taken for granted. Maybe you put in extra effort at your job while there are others who don't and they get treated the same or better than you do. Maybe you've let someone in front of you at the McDonald's drive through only to have them order $17,000 worth of food that takes an hour and a half to pass through the window. It would seem that when we do these things we sow good but reap bad. But is that really the case?
I am proposing that doing good versus doing bad is only part of the formula. What is missing in this formula is intent. You can have a good reason for doing something as well as a bad reason. For example you could mow your neighbor's lawn because they are a good friend and you want to help them or you could do it so that you can have them owe you something. In the first scenario you did this out of the kindness of you heart with no expectation of the favor being returned. Even though you don't care for the mundane task of cutting grass you have a huge feeling of joy and accomplishment when you are finished. And if the favor is returned? Well then that is just icing on the cake. It was not the "crop" you were trying to "harvest." Perhaps your true "harvest" happens as you peek through the blinds to see the bewildered look on your neighbors' faces when they pull in the driveway.
But let's say it was more like the second scenario. Now to be fair, this feeling of being owed something is probably not at the front of your mind. Most of us are not so manipulative and conniving so as to trap our neighbor into owing us something. But we may still harbor a small, almost-but-not-quite-subconscious thought that we are now owed a favor and that our "crop" will not ripen until that favor is returned. This scenario could end badly in many ways. For one, the neighbor may never return the favor. This will cause resentment to build and harden your heart toward your neighbor. Or maybe the neighbor mows your lawn but does a bad job of it or cuts it shorter or taller than you would prefer. Again, resentment builds. Or maybe the neighbor mows your lawn AND washes your car. Now you are the one in debt!
The bible talks extensively about the principle of reaping and sowing and the passage that resonates most with me is the parable of the sower. Open your bible to Matthew and you will find this parable in the first half of chapter 13. In this parable Jesus talks about a farmer who sows his seed everywhere. Seed goes on the rocks, in the weeds, on the path, in the dirt, everywhere. It's fascinating how the farmer spreads his seeds with such reckless abandon. In fact it seems down right foolish to be so wasteful. The cool and rather unique thing about this parable is that Jesus actually explains it. Matthew tells us that Jesus pulled his disciples aside and explained to them how the seed is the word of God and that the different types of soil are different types of people.
Now I've heard theories about how farming methods were different back then, attempting to justify the foolish actions of the farmer, and maybe that’s true. But I can't help but wonder if Jesus didn't make this farmer appear foolish on purpose to get everyone's attention. The key to this is defining what exactly the word of God is. Many would say it's the bible but the problem with that theory is that the bible did not yet exist and would not come into being for another 300+ years. That's not to say that the bible isn't made up of what God says; I'm just not 100% certain that this is what Jesus was referring to.
So let's entertain this possibility for a minute and go to John, chapter 1, verse 1, where we find an intriguing clue. That verse states that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Now we have a little different definition of “word,” don't we? Maybe Jesus means we should spread God around? Well that just seems weird and rather confounding considering that God is already omnipresent - everywhere. But God is lots of things, isn't He?
Do a Google search for "names of God." Go ahead. Yes, right now. I'll wait. What did you find? You probably found lists. Looooong lists. And amidst a myriad of names, on any of the lists that are even close to thorough, one name you will find is LOVE. 1 John 4:8 tells us that "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." So if we are willing to take some leaps here could we then conclude that since God is Love and the Word is God that the "seed" Jesus is referring to is actually Love? I would argue a resounding "yes" with the key piece of evidence defending my argument being what Jesus did every day that He walked the earth. Everywhere He went He loved on people. There were never conditions. He did not heal the blind man with the condition that the man become a volunteer at his church. He didn't heal the leper with the expectation that he would start donating ten percent of his income. He did not create the Facebook meme that says "if you love me you will share this." And He certainly didn't die on the cross with the intent of us somehow repaying Him. He simply scattered love with reckless abandon. He did not concern Himself with the outcome, nor did He conserve His love, seeking out fertile ground. He merely did the right thing with the right intent: He loved with the intent of loving, no strings attached.
We all want more love so how about we start sowing more love? I like to think of it this way: God so loved the world, therefore we sow love on the world. What do you say? Will we change the world or let the world change us?