Last week I talked about how God used Queen Esther to prevent the extermination of the Jewish people in the kingdom of Assyria during the reign of King Xerxes. If you recall, the king had Haman – the author of the plot – hanged on gallows that Haman himself had built to execute the Jewish people. It's ironic that Haman’s execution was carried out on a structure that he intended to use to commit genocide against God’s people. God certainly has a sense of humor.
It reminds me of something I did when I was a boy. I need to confess that I was a bit of a devious child (I know, I know – that’s hard to believe). At the risk of permanently damaging my reputation, I will tell you this story. When I was about 8 years old, I was at our community pool with my family when I came up with a plan that - I thought - would bring much amusement to my life - at the expense of others. It wasn’t to exterminate a certain population of people, but rather to set a trap on some poor innocent bystander so that we could all have a good laugh.
The pool was framed by slate tiles, which looked nice but could become slippery when wet. So, I decided one day to wet the tiles near the edge of the pool so that someone walking by would slip and fall into it. I grabbed a hose and wet the tiles while no one was watching. The trap was now set, so then I waited for my victim to appear. But a friend distracted me and I left the area. When I returned, I had forgotten about my plan. As my friend and I played, he started chasing me around the pool. As I ran past my “trap,” I slipped on the wet slate tiles and fell backwards, hitting my head hard on those slippery tiles, which gave me quite a headache. More importantly to me, though, was that it embarrassed me to no end. As I look back at that event, I can laugh about it now. But, at the time, I was mortified.
We often hear the expression “you reap what you sow.” Ecclesiastes 11 uses the expression, “Cast your bread upon the water.” Pastor Don Foster often uses the phrase “What goes around, comes around.” But I have found out that not everyone understands what those phrases mean. Reaping is equivalent to harvesting, while sowing means to plant. So, what you plant is what you will harvest. If you plant zucchini, you will harvest zucchini. Pretty basic geology.
But it is not limited to the natural world; it also is true in the spiritual realm. What we do in life – whether good or bad – will result in what we may receive in life or in the afterlife. If we plant good things, we will be blessed. If we send out trouble, trouble will come around to us. Paul talks about this very clearly in Galatians 6:7-9: “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. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Paul is not saying here that we inherit eternal life by “sowing good things” (see Ephesians 2:8-9), but rather that we will reap rewards for the good things we do. Likewise, we are not damned for doing bad things – rejecting Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross is what damns us – but rather our suffering will be proportional to how we treated others. Salvation is obtained only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ – not by “being good.”
You may not see everyone “reap” what they have “sown” while in this life. There are plenty of godly people who are mistreated, starving, and being murdered all over this world. Likewise, there are evil people who seem to be prospering. But rest assured, when we stand before Christ, we will all reap what we have sown. Judgement day is coming for all of us. So, I encourage you to sow well, people. Sow into the Kingdom of God and your rewards will be great, for you cannot out-give God. What goes around truly is what comes around.