A very important principle in the Bible is the law of sowing and reaping. We see this principle working over and over again. Paul stated it in his letter to the Galatian Christians:
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 will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:7-9
The law of the harvest means that we reap what we sow, we reap more than we sow, and we reap after we sow. When a farmer scatters wheat seed, he does not expect to harvest corn the very next day, does he? No, he expects to harvest wheat but he knows it will come several months later. He will be very disappointed if he doesn’t reap fifty or a hundred times the amount of wheat he sowed into the soil in the Spring. The same principle is true for you and me, and it operates on both ends of the spectrum of sin and goodness.
If we spend our time and attention in the pursuit of success, we may achieve wealth and power, but also continually compare success with other people. We all know people who are obsessed with their rank on the pecking order of success, whether in school or business. They can’t even enjoy the money or prestige this brings because they are afraid of slipping behind somebody.
In our day, many people yearn for perfection in some area of their life. Some strain for that perfection in academics; some try for it in business or in their appearance. Many people work out constantly and look at all kinds of websites to get the latest tips on how to have the perfect body. Where does it get them? They may have firm abs and great pecs, but they are also preoccupied with themselves all day and every day. Big muscles and a small world.
All of these are attempts to be the center of attention. They may spring from insecurity or pride, but the result is the same: heartache. The desire for power and attention always reaps a painful, destructive harvest. The Lord said to a man who wanted power: “Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not.” (Jeremiah 45:5) That is God’s message for you and for me.
On the other hand, we can easily see the law of the harvest at work on the positive side, too. When we sow love and encouragement, we receive kind words back, if from no one else, from Christ. When we give freely to others with no strings attached, we get welcome surprises in return. When we speak truth, people are honest with us. To be sure, this is not a hard and fast rule. Just as weeds grow among the wheat the farmer sows, we aren’t immune to some weeds of hurt others put in our lives when we sow love and kindness. But look at the overall pattern, and you’ll see the law of harvest working incredibly well, and the conclusion we reach is that it is just plain silly not to sow truth, respect and kindness. After all, that’s what we want from others and it is what God wants from and for us.
When we experience the love and forgiveness of God, our hearts are transformed. The Spirit changes our hearts so that we want more than anything else for God to be honored. As we grow in His love, we won’t care as much if anyone notices us. If our goal is to be happy, thousands of obstacles will get in our way, but if our goal is to honor God, we can accomplish that goal no matter what circumstances we encounter.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was committed to honoring Christ, so he took an unpopular stand against Hitler and his Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer never regretted his stance for Christ. He wrote; “I am sure of God’s hand and guidance. . . You must never doubt that I am thankful and glad to go the way which I am being led. My past life is abundantly full of God’s mercy, and, above all sin, stands the forgiving love of the Crucified.”
The desire for success, pleasure, and approval, had been removed from Bonhoeffer’s heart. He lived only with Christ’s pleasures as his pleasures. Over and over again, he was dragged into court. The Nazi judge demanded that he recant; again and again, he calmly explained that as a Christian, he was an enemy of Nazi socialism, so they threw him back in his cell. Late in the war, some friends plotted to free Bonhoeffer, but he quickly realized that his escape would endanger the lives of his family and friends, so he refused. On the day he was executed, Bonhoeffer went to the gallows with his head up and his heart full. His faith and dignity impressed his fellow prisoners, and even the guards.
So what were Bonhoeffer’s rewards for a life of faithfulness, obedience, integrity, and eventually a martyr’s death? His ultimate reward was the glory that he brought God, not only in his life, but also in his death. It honored the King. He felt the presence of God as only those who live for Christ in the midst of great adversity can. He possessed the “peace that surpasses all understanding”. We can be assured that he is now experiencing incredible rewards as he sees his Lord face to face. Paul wrote about believer’s future rewards:
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15