Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sow Good, Reap Grief?

Someone asked, “There are many people who sow good and reap grief. How do you explain it?”

If we sow good, then we will reap good, and if we are patient, we will see it come to pass.

If we have reaped grief, it is because we have sown grief. The Bible says that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). In other words, all have sown grief. God created us to participate in His glory — to reflect and express His glory, which is the manifestation of His goodness. But we have all declined in one way or another. The Bible calls that "sin." The Greek word is harmatano and literally means to "miss the mark." We've missed the mark of sharing in God's goodness.

We inherited this affliction of grief from Adam. He had the choice of eating from the Tree of Life or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of Life is relationship with God. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is about trying to be God ourselves, something we were never created to be. Adam "missed the mark" and passed his sickness of spirit on to us.

The good news is that Jesus Christ came to redeem us from that affliction, to forgive our sins and bring us back into relationship with Father God. Speaking of Messiah (the Hebrew name for Christ), the Bible says:
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53:5-6)
In other words, Jesus took our place.
  • We sowed the transgressions, but He reaped the wounds.
  • We sowed the iniquities, but He reaped the bruises.
  • He reaped our chastisement, we reaped His peace.
  • He reaped our stripes, we reaped His healing.
  • He reaped what we sowed, and we reaped what He sowed.
In the New Testament, we read more about this great exchange: "God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). In other words, He took our sin and so we could become righteous.

"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23). We should have reaped eternal death (which is separation from God), but Jesus gives us eternal life — the Tree of Life that Adam passed up.

We receive this great gift through faith in Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Though the devil (the thief of this world) comes to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes to give us abundant life (John 10:10).

Now we are free to sow the good — something we could not do before when we were, as the Apostle Paul puts it, "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). We may still reap grief, but often it is because we still sow grief, or have not dealt with the grief we have already sown. Repentance and confession are wonderful means for healing and detoxifying in this regard. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Jesus has also given us authority over sickness and the demonic strongholds we may have let into our lives — we just need to learn how to exercise that authority (which is one of the things Christian discipleship is supposed to be about, but is often neglected).

Make the "Great Exchange" with Jesus Christ. Stop sowing grief. Keep sowing good. Grief will decrease, good will increase. Overcome evil with good.