Sow and Then Reap- Hosea 8:7, Job 4:8, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Galatians 6:7-8

For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

COMMENTARY

For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap
The first and most obvious lesson that the scriptures teach us about sowing and reaping is that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. “What you sow is what you reap” seems so obvious that one can hardly believe it needed to be said even once, though the scriptures repeat this message numerous times.
Yet I’m sure we all can think of times where we did something bad, hoping to somehow avoid the negative consequences that always follow. Though the principle “sow what you reap” held true for everyone else, we were going to be the exception.
Many times we talk about having faith in good. We say to trust that good works bring good rewards. But sometimes I think we need to have faith in the bad as well. We need to have a faith that doing bad things is just going to let us down…every time.

The bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up
For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption

Notice that these scriptures allow for the phenomenon of people sowing unwisely and still appearing to be gratified for a time. Perhaps their bud will yield, perhaps they will reap flesh. But sometimes the curse is in the getting. Just ask the Israelites (Numbers 11:32-33).
Often this world puts a delay between action and consequence, but that does not mean the link of cause-and-effect is broken. Play the long game and hedge your bets on the truth that every good deed will be rewarded sooner or later.

Trial Before Blessing, Pleasure Before Anguish- Romans 5:3-4; James 1:2-4, 12; Hebrews 5:8

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
And patience, experience; and experience, hope.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

COMMENTARY

Knowing that tribulation worketh patience
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire
Yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered
There is no lazy path to perfection. If, in your efforts to follow God you find yourself struggling at every step, then good job! You are right where you should be.
I don’t know exactly why, but apparently our nature is such that real change requires the refiner’s fire. As a friend and mentor once told me: “There is a sacredness in suffering.” Never forget that he who suffered all things was also the only one to have risen above them, too.
Waiting on blessings is probably the most universal trial we face, and it is while persevering through this delay that we nurture essential characteristics like patience, experience, hope, and faith.

Trial Before Blessing, Pleasure Before Anguish- 1 Kings 19:11-12

And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

COMMENTARY

But the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire
When one endeavors to try to become something better, they may be surprised that the Lord does not bless their efforts immediately. In fact, often it is Satan who comes to us first.
I have had my own journey through addiction recovery, at the beginning of which I was excited to finally meet the healthier, worthier me. I was shocked, then, when I instead met a very different version of myself: one that was extremely pessimistic and cruel. This version assured me that I would never get any better, that deep down I didn’t even want to get better, that soon I would fail, and that recovery would never work because I just happen to be fundamentally flawed to my core.
This voice was one that raged, too. One might say it came in like a great wind, or an earthquake, or maybe a fire…but the Lord was not in these furies at all. After that harsher version of me passed, another identity came. A still, small one that rang truer and far more hopeful. The one I had been waiting for.
I feel I have very good company in this pattern that I lived. Jonah tried to run before he eventually carried out his mission to Nineveh, Peter sunk into the water the first time he tried to walk on it, Zacharias doubted his son’s birth but later defended that boy, Moses doubted his abilities before leading Israel to freedom. It seems most all of us have the self of doubt before the self of faith.
The problem is when people meet that first doubting self and then assume that that is all there is. They may start to believe that some people have a good core, and others an evil, and there’s just nothing you can do about that. The truth is everyone has both identities, and the test is simply whether we will hold out long enough for the good to make itself known.

Trial Before Blessing, Pleasure Before Anguish- Exodus 32:1, Deuteronomy 8:2, Ecclesiastes 8:11

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.

And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

COMMENTARY

When the people saw that Moses delayed…[they] said…Up, make us gods
The LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart
After the Israelites were led out of Egypt they struggled to maintain faith in God’s ability to protect and provide. At a time where patience was required, they instead sought the immediate gratification of a new god. Eventually they were given a test of forty years, and from the passage above we learn the purpose of it was prove whether they would remain faithful for a period so long.
Where many of us fall from our faith is during the waiting, because frankly most of us initially only do good for the hope of receiving a reward. If there is a delay on that reward, though, our true motivations eventually reveal themselves.

Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
Similarly, many of us initially avoid evil only for the fear of receiving a punishment. If there is a delay on that punishment, though, our true desires eventually reveal themselves as well.
We are wheat and tares, indistinguishable in our infancy and still deciding what we are ultimately going to be. We are trying to learn how to do good things simply because they are good, never mind if we receive a reward right away. And we are trying to learn how to avoid evil things simply because they are evil, never mind if we feel their consequences right away.
If every good and evil act showed their consequences immediately, then we would never define our core selves, we would become dumb creatures of habit. It is only in the waiting that the core self is revealed.

A word of caution: some have interpreted passages like these to suggest that some of us have an evil core self and others a good core self. I want to take a moment to refute that notion entirely. All of us are good at our core. Tomorrow I’ll explain why this misconception arises, and why it is a misconception.