What We Sow
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
Revelation 14:13 (NIV)
In our part of the world, summer ends and fall starts with the September equinox. This occurs between September 21 and 23 every year. So, as we begin the month of November we find ourselves a little over one third of the way through fall.
We also find ourselves near the end of the Autumn (fall) harvest and in the middle of hunting season. The fourth Thursday of this month is Black Friday and the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Up to thirty percent of our nations retail sales occur between Black Friday and Christmas, with largest day of sales traditionally occurring on Black Friday. This is a time of the year when we reap (1) the benefits of most of the crops grown in our area, (2) the results of the management and enforcement of the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations, and (3) the profits or losses of our mercantilism. In a very real way, what we reap at this time of the year is a judgement on our actions and/or inactions in these various spheres.
In much the same way, there is a personal harvest that occurs. What we do in our youth impacts our old age. If we work hard, save our money, and live relatively reasonable lives our twilight years are often more comfortable and enjoyable. If we study hard and avoid reckless behavior while we are in high school our college and vocational training choices will be more diverse.
Our spiritual condition is that which waters the seeds of our thoughts. Our thoughts are the roots of our behaviors and our behaviors are the blossoms of our faith. There are both physical and spiritual consequences for all our behaviors. These physical and spiritual consequences can be both temporal as well as eternal. In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, we are told that Salvation is a gift from God.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Romans 3:23-24 (ESV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23 (ESV)
We are also told that we cannot lose this gift.
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38–39 (ESV)
Paul spoke about the spiritual consequences of our actions when he wrote to the church in Corinth.
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)
Here, Paul is telling us that even though a particular action or inaction will not separate us from God’s love (cost us our salvation), they will come with consequences.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Romans 8:31–33 (ESV)
There are eternal as well as temporal consequences for our behaviors.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Galatians 6:7 (NIV)
Our works (the fruit of our faith) follow us into the afterlife. There are those special rewards or honors for the faithful. We can see this in that there are twenty-four thrones that surround the throne of Christ which are designated for particular elders. We can also see it in the special place that is reserved in heaven for those who were martyred for Christ.
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.
Revelation 4:4 (ESV)
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Revelation 6:9–10 (ESV)
There is a spiritual harvest that we participate in as Christians. This sense of our works following us into eternity is also present in much of hymnody as can be seen in the following: O Jesus, I have promised by John E. Bode, On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand by Samuel Stennett, and The Church’s one foundation by S. J. Stone.
In conclusion, I would like to share a little warning with you. When preaching from Galatians 6, an old Baptist preacher said, “Don’t be like some people who sow their wild oats and then pray for a crop failure.”
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:8–10 (ESV)