From the Pastor’s Desk
“April showers bring May flowers!”
Have you ever heard that axiom? To me, it’s a positive statement of cause and effect, and it can be applied to many other things besides agriculture.
For example, the apostle Paul stated in Galatians 6:7-8:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.
And again in v. 9:
And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.
The principle that “we shall reap what we sow” is indeed universal. It is also misunderstood in certain contexts.
What about the child who disobeyed his/her parents? What happens if he/she humbles themself and seeks forgiveness? Hopefully, that child will have parents who are seeking that child’s best welfare, and they do indeed forgive them. Does that mean the incident is erased as if it never happened? I remember from my past experiences when my son asked forgiveness for breaking our rule about riding his bike in the street. I did indeed forgive him, but I also denied his privileges to ride that bike for a week. His response to me was, “But dad, I said I was sorry, and you said you forgave me … why am I being punished?” [Has that ever happened to you?]
My point to my son was that you reap what you sow. I also told him that forgiveness does not always mean the transgression never happened. Think about the drunk driver who kills a child riding his bike – can God forgive that driver for what he did? Yes, but does that mean what that driver did never happened – it gets washed away? Unfortunately, no.
Or what about the man who smokes for 40 years, and then comes to a conviction that as a Christian, smoking is hurting his testimony before his non-believing friends and family – so he quits (I realize that for many, this is an agonizing and difficult thing to do, which illustrates just how addictive smoking really is). As a non-smoker now, can this man expect that he is free from the danger of lung cancer? No. But why? Because there is a difference between forgiveness and consequences. God forgives, but He does not resurrect the victims of car crashes. He forgives women who choose to abort their child, but He does not bring back that tiny life and put it back into the woman’s womb. And what about the criminal incarcerated in jail? Suppose he makes a genuine confession of faith and trust in Jesus Christ as His Savior; should he be paroled now that he is a professing Christian? I would think not. I know of many men who are behind bars for major crimes including manslaughter and premeditated murder, who have come to know Christ as their Savior. It’s great to know that these men can look forward to an eternity with God, but their debt to society demands that they serve out their prison terms. God has given them perhaps the most difficult mission field of all … to be a witness of the gospel of God’s grace, and to encourage other believers in prison to walk by faith and honor God in prison.
If it’s really true that ‘we reap what we sow,’ then how serious should we be in what we are sowing in our lives? If this is really true, then how important is it that we teach our children this principle, and not trivialize the concept of forgiveness. Yes, God forgives sinners. He forgave the thief on the cross. He promised him that “today, you will be with Me in paradise.” But He did not enable that thief to get down off his cross. He was a lawbreaker who found forgiveness just minutes before his death, which was the just punishment from society.
Forgiveness is real … thank the Lord He is merciful and compassionate to sinners. But if you smoke you may develop lung cancer, and forgiveness has nothing to do with that. If you drink and drive, and cause the death of someone else, God forgives, but you must answer to man’s law and accept the required punishment. If you choose to abort your child, God can forgive, but you have taken the life of your child.
We reap what we sow. I challenge you to think of this today, and tomorrow, and every day until our Savior comes to take us home. I close with the apostles’ words from Philippians:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things (Phil. 4:8).
George Maronge, Jr.