As Ye Sow
As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap
You have heard people say, “What goes around, comes around.” But have you given that saying much thought? It is actually a modern way to express ancient wisdom. The Old Testament stated it this way “. . . they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” (Job 4:8). At least 50 years before the birth of Christ, the Roman statesman, philosopher, and orator, Marcus T. Cicero, said, “As you have sown so shall you reap.” And in the New Testament we find, “…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
The idea that we reap what we sow is more than a cute saying or worthwhile principle. It is an immutable law of nature with as much force as the law of gravity. We ignore this law at our own risk. In ancient times, most people had a clear understanding of the law because of their agrarian experience. By observation they learned the following facts.
1) If you sow wheat, you will reap wheat. If you sow corn, you will reap corn. If you raise cattle, you will reap cattle. If you breed pigs, you will reap pigs. This is the law of like begets like. Pigs do not beget chickens, nor does corn bring forth potatoes.
2) If you sow today, you cannot reap tomorrow. It takes time for your labor to bear fruit.
3) If you sow hundreds of seeds, you will harvest thousands. Your yield will be far greater than you have sown. However, . . .
4) The harvest depends on the soil, or as Christ said, “Behold, a sower went forth to sow. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them. But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:3 – 13-8)
It should be clear from the first fact (like begets like) that if you sow kindness, you will reap kindness, but if you sow prejudice, you will reap prejudice, not understanding. Similarly, sowing hatred will reap hatred, not compassion. This powerful law can help you receive whatever you wish. Do you want to be loved? Obviously, you must first love others. When you do so, they will return love to you. Do you want to make more money? If so, you must first make more money for someone else. It’s only common sense, isn’t it? After all, if you make your employer rich, you will be well rewarded. If not, you can always change jobs and move to a company that will recognize and reward you.
By applying the law of “As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap,” we can gain control of our lives. That is exciting news. But why are so many of us blind to this important law? The reason may be fact #2 (the time delay between sowing and reaping). Because of the gap in time, we fail to see how our actions and their results are connected. When you make a conscious decision to plant a garden in your backyard, the connection between the care you give to the plants and the results you receive is obvious. However, we make countless unconscious decisions every day. For example, when a driver cuts you off on the highway, you immediately become angry. You didn’t plan to get angry. It just happened (because of lack of reflection and lack of self-discipline). Nevertheless, whether you are aware of it or not, you are sowing anger. And the connection of this moment to the anger of others that you will reap in the future is not immediately obvious. For this reason, we need to be aware of our actions and sow only what we wish to reap.
Fact #3 is magical. It states that we will reap more than we sow. Imagine tossing a pebble into the center of a small pond. After the splash, you will see ripples radiating to the edges of the pond. Our actions are like that. When you perform an act of kindness, you do more than make one person happy because invariably, the person you helped will be inspired to help another, who in turn will help still another, and so on. In this way, your act of kindness is multiplied. Similarly, the kindness you reap will be multiplied.
As pointed out in fact #4, the size of our harvest also depends on the soil. Let’s say I’m treating 83-year-old Aunt Millie kindly. But I’m doing so because she is about to die and I want to be included in her will. Although I’m acting kindly, the soil (my intention) is bad. So, instead of reaping kindness, I will become the victim of someone’s greed (just like Aunt Millie). Another example: I may love some people and dislike others. I am, therefore, sowing mixed seeds. Therefore, what I reap will be equally mixed, blessings and suffering.
Did you ever stop in front of a shopwindow to look at your reflection and check your appearance? Well, the world is a mirror, reflecting every act we sow. If you like what you see, congratulations, for you are making valuable contributions to the world. If you don’t like what you see, it simply means there are some changes you have to make. Let’s say I’m finding it impossible to gain the cooperation of the team members at work. I cajoled, begged, threatened, even threw a tantrum, all to no avail. However, after reflecting on the law of sowing and reaping, I realized that I have been sowing negativity and reaping a bountiful harvest of the same. So, it’s time to change. That is, change myself. Since I am seeking the cooperation of others, I decide to focus on how I can cooperate with them, rather than vice versa. What is it that they wish to receive from me? How would they like me to contribute to the team? How can I help? After arriving at some answers, I start helping out without asking for, much less demanding, their support. Lo and behold! Slowly, the team project effortlessly falls into place. Today, we not only work together, but we enjoy doing so! So, now you realize that despite our shirts and ties or fancy dresses, we are farmers, sowing and reaping daily. If we remain aware of what we sow, we won’t be reaping thorns instead of tomatoes, contempt instead of compassion, or pain instead of peace. My final remark is taken from The Koran, “Have you considered what you sow?” [The Event 56.63]
Chuck Gallozzi - email firstname.lastname@example.org