I heard a story about a man who one day decided to take a walk along a river. It was the end of winter, things were finally thawing, and he wanted to get outside in the mild weather. As he walked along, he saw large chunks of ice floating on the river, slipping over a waterfall a little downstream from him. Suddenly, he spotted a majestic hawk as it swooped down to the water and gently landed on one of the ice chunks. Apparently, a rabbit had gotten trapped on the ice and so the hawk saw an easy, tasty dinner waiting for him.
Every few moments, as the hawk was eating, he would raise his head and look around in what seemed like the hawk sensing danger nearby. The man assumed the hawk was sensing the fast-approaching waterfall. Despite nearing the falls, the hawk remained on the ice, eating the raw meat of the rabbit. The man started yelling at the hawk, hoping that it would fly away and not plunge into the river below. But the hawk ignored the warnings and, instead, chose to continue to eat the rabbit. The man surmised that perhaps the hawk was confident in its ability to fly off to safety when he reached the falls. At the last possible moment, as the ice began to slip over the waterfall, the hawk raised its magnificent wings high into the air to fly away. But, to the man’s surprise and great sadness, the hawk did not move. Apparently, it’s feet had become frozen to the ice and, despite its efforts, it plunged over the falls attached to the chunk of ice.
Many people are like that hawk: they indulge in dangerous things even when they sense there is danger approaching, ignoring the warnings of those around them. Their desire is to please their flesh and they will take unnecessary risks when they should be heeding the warning signs. The apostle Paul was very clear about this behavior in his letter to the Galatian church. He said in Galatians 6:7-8: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”
Sowing and reaping are common themes in the Bible. Farmers will sow certain types of seeds and will then reap the fruit of those seeds. If a farmer plants corn, he will reap corn. If he plants tomatoes, he’s not going to reap zucchini. This principle not only works in our physical world, but also in the spiritual realm as well. What we “plant” – what we do with our lives – will determine what we “harvest”. It is a simple yet profound truth and one that we can rely on. I had often mistakenly associated only bad behavior with this principle. In other words, if you do bad things, you will reap bad things. But that’s not only what Paul said. He also said if we sow good things – things that last, things that are eternal – we will reap great rewards.
“God cannot be mocked”. You can fool your pastor, your parents, even your spouse, but you cannot fool God. He sees our motives. He sees our attitudes. He sees the things that we do for the Kingdom. He sees the sacrifices we make for others. Even if we do good things for the wrong reasons, He sees that as well. Just like a farmer, we will reap what we have sown.
Don’t be like that hawk. If you see danger approaching, or if you hear warnings from others, pay attention to the signs and listen to the warnings. Sometimes, if we remain on a dangerous course for too long, it could cost us our life. Sow seeds that build up yourself, others, and the Kingdom of God, and He will have great rewards waiting for you, both in this life and in the life to come. God promises that we will reap what we have sown and that is a promise we can rely on. It’s up to us to decide what we will reap at the end of the harvest.