Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the LORD,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
You have plowed wickedness;
You have reaped iniquity.
You have eaten the fruit of lies,
Because you trusted in your own way,
In the multitude of your mighty men.
— Hosea 10:12-13
Let’s clear the air about something: sowing and reaping is a major principle of God’s Word and one we must still recognize and live by. Just as Hosea warned Israel in the passage above, if we sow wickedness with our thoughts and actions, we’re going to reap iniquity—or the willful injustice of oppressors, as the Amplified Bible puts it. We won’t just reap an icky feeling of having lived wrongly; we’ll actually attract injustice and oppression from others.
Conversely, if we sow righteousness—or uprightness and right standing with God, as the Amplified translates—we’ll reap mercy and loving-kindness. When we break up our fallow ground, we are able to receive the soaking rain of God’s blessings. God can rain down righteousness all He wants, but if our hearts are hard, His rain will splash off us like flash floods upon Utah slickrock and not bring lasting change.
In this season where the love and affections of the Father are being reintroduced to the Church in new and powerful ways, it’s easy to lean too heavily upon God’s mercy and forget that our wrong actions still carry heavy consequences.
Paul warned the Galatians (6:7-8):
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
It’s a stern warning: Do not be deceived! Paul would only say that if there were legitimate reason to be concerned about deception. How are we living our lives? Do our actions reflect that we take this spiritual truth seriously? It’s a question I need to ask myself more often. For if I truly lived like this was absolute reality, I’d certainly live differently. And when we don’t live this way, we’re falling into the very deception that Paul warns against. And we’re (yikes!) mocking God—the pure opposite of living in the fear of the Lord. That is not where we want to be.
The Amplified paints a more complete picture of what this ugly, dismissive attitude look like to God:
Do not be deceived and deluded and misled; God will not allow Himself to be sneered at (scorned, disdained, or mocked by mere pretensions or professions, or by His precepts being set aside.)
We probably tell ourselves, “Lord, I would never scorn, disdain or mock you!” just as Peter told Jesus he would never betray Him. Yet, days, if not hours later, when we live as though we won’t reap what we sow, we’re doing it. God sees it as mockery.
When were stingy with our tithes and offerings and wonder why the budget never works out, we’re mocking God. When we consider God’s commandments to be trivial and wonder why things just don’t seem to be going our way, we’re mocking God. When we’re rare with complements and words of encouragement and wonder why people seldom notice or praise us, we’re mocking God. When we’re tight with tips at the restaurant or salon and wonder why people aren’t more generous with us, we’re mocking God. I could go on forever.
What it comes down to is this: Yes, God loves us all more than we can imagine. Yes, God is quick to show mercy and extend forgiveness. Yes, God works together all things for our good. But, yes, you will still reap what you sow. If you want the blessings of God to flow through your life like a mighty river, you have to commit to sowing into that stream of blessing with your thoughts, meditations, words and actions. God will not be mocked.