You’ve heard the adage: “You reap what you sow.” The Word is very clear in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians: […he who is sowing sparingly, sparingly shall also reap; and he who sows in blessings, in blessings shall also reap.] This holds true for many of us if, like me, you’ve been churched all your life.
But, the question could be posed: What do we do with the verses like Matthew 5:45 […(God) sends rain on the just and on the unjust] or Luke 6:35 […for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil]? Was Paul wrong in 2 Corinthians 9:6? Or was he simply laying out a foundational truth that God blesses in the same manner that we bless others?
Do we really always reap exactly what we sow? Does God punish and bless according to our pasts? I’ve been wrestling with this for some time now, and the only conclusion that I can come to is this:
The successes of our pasts carry residual benefits. The failures of our pasts (repented for and forgiven) carry finite consequences.
I know that sounds overly simple, but some of the greatest promises God has for us are simple.
Life: [Honor your father and mother that your days may be long on the earth.] Exodus 20:12
Precedence: [The Lord is the one that goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.] Deuteronomy 31:8
Protection: [When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.] Isaiah 43:2
There are consequences for leaving my marriage with which I struggle every single day. But repentance – true remorse – and the grace and love of Christ that covers a multitude of sins brings redemption to every sinner. And covers every sin.
Does grace give us immunity to sin and the consequences thereof? Absolutely not. It simply gives us a chance to begin again after we stumble.
In three weeks, I’ll remarry, and the priority pursuit within that sacred bond is the creation of a ministry primarily directed towards Christians who’ve divorced (before salvation or after). We want our lives – our mistakes and lessons learned – to not be in vain. We want to share those things we’ve learned the hard way and maybe help others from making the same choices. Leaving my marriage may not have been the advice the church would have given me (or the man I’ll marry in March), but God has shown us grace and mercy far beyond what we deserve and he has restored to us things we never believed possible.
So, we pay the consequences for our sins (all of them), and we enjoy the benefits of blessing God by blessing others. But do we really reap exactly what we sow? Grace says no. [For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God (that is, His remarkable, overwhelming gift of grace to believers) is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.] Romans 6:23
Thank God that, once we accept Christ as the gatekeeper of our souls, we don’t reap death as a punishment for sin but are given chance after chance to redeem our lives and give back to the One who so graciously gave to us a way to live eternally.
Some will always have problems with the sins of your past. Some will only remember the things you did that carry negative consequences; they’ll never remember the redemption that you received after God transformed your sin into a great triumph. But, you will. You’ll forever be reminded of the place from where God brought you. And, hopefully, it will create in you the desire to help bring others out of their dark places and show them eternity in a way nobody else can.