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  • Writer's pictureMarco Inniss

You Reap What You Sow

It’s a biblical truth that habits shape your life. Perhaps you’re wondering, “where does God tell us that in the Bible?” That idea comes from Galatians 6.

But God doesn’t use the word “habits.” He uses the metaphor of seeds. Why? In biblical times, people lived in an agrarian society. Nothing was manufactured or cranked out in fast-food joints. Food had to be grown one ingredient at a time. People’s lives and economy were based largely on farming. People back then would understand the concept of planting seeds and harvesting crops, so here’s what God inspired Paul to write: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:7–9).

For us non-agrarians, let’s establish some definitions.

▪ To “sow” means to plant—to put seed in the ground. ▪ To “reap” means to gather the fruit—the result of the seed planted.

So the passage starts, “Do not be deceived.” The idea for us readers is, don’t be led astray. Don’t be fooled; don’t be stupid.

It continues, “God cannot be mocked.” The Greek word translated “mocked” means to snub or thumb your nose at someone. You can do that to a person, but not to God. Don’t be deceived, God can’t be mocked. You might fool a lot of people, but you’re not going to fool God.

The next words are, “A man reaps what he sows.” That’s what we need to understand and not be foolish about. But what does that mean?

▪ You will harvest what you plant. ▪ You will get out what you put in. ▪ Your outcomes will be determined by your inputs. ▪ The results of your life will be based on the decisions you make, the habits you stake, and the habits you break.

Paul gives us a spiritual example when he talks about the differences between sowing to the flesh and sowing to the Spirit. The flesh refers to our sinful nature. Some sow (or plant seeds) to the flesh, meaning they do what’s wrong, ungodly, and sinful. The result? They reap (or harvest) destruction. Bad decisions lead to bad consequences. Others sow (or plant seeds) to the Spirit, meaning they allow themselves to be led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, so they do what honors God. The result? They reap (or harvest) eternal life. So if you live your life with and for God, that’s what you’re going to get out of it. Not just now but (especially) eternally. If you live your life for yourself, ignoring God and apart from him, that’s what you’re going to get out of it. Not just now but (especially) eternally.

But it’s not just true spiritually and eternally. This is the way all of life works. We reap what we sow.

There’s a natural law at work in this idea of planting and harvesting. It’s similar to, say, the concept of gravity. It’s just how the world works. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to agree with it. Gravity will work for you, and on you, the same way it works with everyone. If you jump, you will go up. Then gravity will bring you down. We say people get “tripped up,” but that’s not true. People always trip down. Gravity is a natural law.

In the same way, God tells us there is a natural law of sowing and reaping.

If you plant apple seeds, you get apple trees. If you plant orange seeds, don’t be deceived and expect apples. You can picture a farmer out in his fields: Wait. What’s this? I wanted apples. Why did I get oranges? It’s because you planted orange seeds! If you plant corn, you’re going to reap corn. Don’t plant corn if you want pineapples. That would be stupid. When you put a certain type of seed in the ground, you get a harvest that corresponds with the seed you planted.

Every. Single. Time. You reap what you sow. True in agriculture. True in life. If you plant good habits, you’ll get good outcomes. If you plant bad habits, don’t be deceived and expect good outcomes.

If you find yourself asking, Wait. What’s this? I didn’t want this. Why is this happening? Understand that what you’re getting is because that’s what you planted. You fooled yourself into thinking you could plant one thing and reap another.

It sounds crazy that someone might do that, but it happens all the time. A guy sows seeds of lust. He checks out girls at the gym, girls at his office, girls online. But he still expects to have a good marriage. Then, when his marriage struggles, he’s confused. Wait. What’s this? It’s what you planted.

A woman sows seeds of criticism and negativity but expects good friends. As a result, people avoid her. She’s lonely. She thinks, Wait. What’s this? I guess I have bad friends. No. It’s what you planted.

A recent college graduate sows seeds of showing up late for work and giving a halfhearted effort but expects a promotion. When someone else is given the promotion, the young adult thinks, Wait. What’s this? Man, my boss isn’t fair! No. It’s what you planted.

Some dude eats anything he wants. Praise the Lord and pass the Doritos! He doesn’t exercise. He drinks a six-pack on Friday to celebrate that it’s Friday. He drinks another on Saturday because, hey, it’s Saturday. And he drinks another six-pack on Sunday because it’s the last day of the weekend. He ends up thirty-five pounds overweight in his forties and with cirrhosis in his fifties. Hey! What’s this? This isn’t fair! Is God punishing me for something I did when I was a kid? No; it’s not a punishment, it’s a harvest. You are reaping what you’ve sown.

When people mess up their marriages, friendships, or careers, they get upset and often blame God. Ummm, no. God didn’t do this to you. You did this to you.

If you plant good habits, you’ll get good outcomes.

If you plant bad habits, don’t expect good outcomes.

You reap what you sow.

If you don’t like what you’re reaping, change what you’re sowing. If you don’t like the harvest, change the seed.

Here’s a divine assignment: Take an honest, prayerful look at the disappointing parts of your life. Ask God to help you search your heart. Then pinpoint the habits that have led to each aspect of your life that isn’t what you want. Avoid having a victim mentality or blaming others. That will not help. Take responsibility by identifying the habits you’ve sown that have led to your harvest. Then decide on a type of seed you will consistently plant to get a better harvest.

If you don’t like what you’re reaping, change what you’re sowing.

Because you reap what you sow.

Adapted from The Power to Change: Mastering the Habits That Matter Most by Craig Groeschel.

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