Thursday, May 14, 2015

We Don’t Reap What We Sow

Have you noticed some of the old sayings we commonly embrace aren’t true? For instance, “No news is good news.” Especially today with cell phones and instant communication, if you’re worried about a loved one’s well-being, not receiving news isn’t good news at all. When the phone rings (chimes or chirps), or we receive a text confirming they’re OK, that is good news.

We’ve all heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Most of us have felt wounds inflicted by someone’s unkind words, and often those take much longer to heal than physical injuries. Just ask a child scarred by a parent’s constant ridicule – or a cyber-bullying victim.

We not only reap what we sow, good or bad,
but reap even more of it.
And then there’s the beloved adage that tells us, “You reap what you sow.” Actually, this one’s half-true. If you sow tomato seeds, you’re not going to grow watermelons or rutabagas. But in reality, we reap MORE than we sow. As the Bible states in Hosea 8:7, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”

Would you consider sowing a kernel of corn to grow…a single kernel of corn? Of course not. We sow some seeds of something, like green beans or lettuce or carrots, expecting eventually to reap lots of vegetables. Hopefully enough to give away to friends and family members.

We see this reality of reaping more than we sow in virtually every phase of life. We sow acts of kindness, and in return not only see people benefiting from our care but also receive the joy of having helped others. We might even gain new friends in the process.

An entrepreneur makes a big investment – time, money, sweat equity – pursuing a dream, not just to recoup what’s been put into it, but to develop it and receive much in return. Parents happily dote on their children, providing for their needs, intending for them not only to survive but also thrive and grow into mature, productive adults. Aspiring pianists spend countless hours repeating scales and enduring mind-numbing practice, not to develop excellence at practicing but to one day become stellar musicians. 

I bring this up because there’s also a downside to reaping more than we sow. Our society seems to be experiencing the fruits of its “labors,” reaping a lot more than it has sown – and not always in a good way. Here are a few examples.

During the 1960’s, many in my generation, the “Baby Boomers,” decided traditional sexual mores were “puritanical” and aggressively espoused “free love.” Sounded harmless at the time, but the sowing of this libertine approach to physical intimacy has reaped, among other things: an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases; cheapening of the God-created gift of sex, making it seem as inconsequential as a handshake or going to the bathroom; widespread use of abortion as a form of birth control; and devaluing of family relationships and commitment.

The old “shoot ‘em ups” of the early days of TV and the movies were deemed unrealistic, so Hollywood makeup artists and special effects engineers resolved to create more realistic killing. They did extremely well. Now mayhem, not only on TV crime shows and films but also in video games and the Internet, has spawned glorification of violence and an obsession with blood and gore. I can’t help believing this has contributed significantly to our increasingly violent culture.

And consider the decision, in the name of “enlightenment” and “tolerance,” to eliminate references to religion and the spiritual from the school day. No need to offend those who either believe differently, or don’t believe at all. Interpretations of the so-called “separation of church and state” have redefined freedom of religion to mean freedom from religion. As a result, the 10 Commandments, which prescribe wholesome guidelines for living – unless you’re a politician or an attorney, perhaps – were declared taboo within the halls of public learning.

The Pledge of Allegiance, which served as a daily reminder of being citizens of our proud nation, has also been excised from most schools. It seems saying “one nation under God” through the decades has scarred countless millions of students irreversibly.

In the years since – and I don’t believe it’s coincidental – the central problems in our schools have ceased being things like chewing gum, running in the halls, passing notes during class, and throwing spitballs, which were the key issues of decades past. Instead, today we rightfully fret over pervasive drug abuse, violence with guns and knives, sexual promiscuity, and classrooms out of control.

Proverbs 29:18 states, “Where there is no (prophetic) revelation, the people cast off restraint.” Or as another translation puts it, “Where there is no vision (of God), the people run wild.” I’m not advocating the forcible imposition of Christian beliefs. But as someone has wisely quipped, if we stand for nothing we’ll fall for anything.

As the verse from Hosea points out, we’ve effectively “sown the wind” and are now “reaping the whirlwind.” Earlier in the same passage God states, “the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law…. With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction.”

We need to be careful what we’re sowing. We might just reap a whole lot more of it – much more than we ever imagined.

No comments: