Sunday, April 1, 2012

I See... Reaping What we do not Sow

 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) A related scriptural analogy instructs us that “a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”(3rd Nephi 14:18) When it comes to sin and righteousness, the correlation is very clear- you reap what you sow. Good choices beget more good choices and bad choices beget, well... I think you get the picture. Such is the spiraling effect of the chains of sin that the devil employs to rob us of our free agency and draw us ever further away from truth and righteousness.

One of the most formidable challenges of living close to the Spirit in these latter days, however, is a practical perspective on reaping what we do not sow. A more subdued yet dangerously corrupting undercurrent are the machinations of modern society since the industrial revolution, the rise of capitalism, and the age of computerization, where in most instances, we do not reap what we sow; we reap what other people sow, and we sow for other people to reap.

In the olden days, families worked the land and provided for themselves in almost every aspect of survival. Whether it was soap, a chair, or biscuits for dinner, the connection was clear. You scrubbed off the grit of the day with soap you made; you sat in chairs made out of wood from trees on your own land, and those biscuits for dinner came from grain grown on the farm you worked on a daily basis.

Today, however, most of the benefits and luxuries of life we reap have been sown by someone else. For the sake of analytical symmetry, I can confidently say that the deodorant I use every morning was made by a host of factory workers I don't know in Ohio; the chair I'm sitting in was made in North Carolina, and my favorite biscuits were baked by someone else at our neighborhood grocery store. In summary, it is safe to say that for all practical purposes, most of us had absolutely no hand in producing (sowing) what we actually use (reaping) on a daily basis.

The grand question, however, is the effect that this disassociated life has on us as we strive to make good choices that reap positive consequences. Are we so used to reaping what others have sown that we slowly, gradually become spiritually immune to the whole concept?

Or... does it require the faith that as we sow through our labors, we will be able to reap a corresponding amount of the benefits of others' work? Our whole system of democratic law, republican government, and capitalist economy and society depends on this. I'm not saying that we should turn the clock back to the survivalism of the 1700's; I''m just saying that as we stroll the aisles of the supermarket next week looking for the sliced olives we need for our next gourmet recipe, we spend a minor moment thinking about the benefit we are reaping from what someone else has sown- then think- what am I sowing for others to reap? This exercise will keep the gospel truth of we reap what we sow closer to our hearts and minds, and may spill over to more important decisions we are required to make when we measure the intended consequences of our actions.


  1. Despite modern romanticism about the wonders of living in a primitive and self reliant culture, trade and the market system have provided the majority of most people's daily needs and wants for millennia. By and large, the less a culture engages in the market system (or the less it has evolved to engage in such trade), the more brutal the society. Most moderns cannot even imagine the harsh brutality that was a fact of everyday life for many primitive cultures.

    I believe it is possible to over-complicate a scripture in an effort to reduce it to its simplest meaning. After all, we are supposed to liken the scriptures to ourselves in our current circumstances. It ill serves us to opine about fantasy.

    Members of a market system trade their labor for goods or credits of some sort. They then trade (sow) those goods or credits to receive (reap) other things they want or need. The fact that they rarely directly create many of the goods and services they consume in no way removes them from the sow-reap paradigm.

    A problem arises when we insist on getting (reaping) what we don't honestly pay for (sow). Theft, gambling, mooching, etc are attempts to reap what we have not sown. But, as you note, God is not deceived. We will all reap what we have sown in the long run.

  2. Scott,

    Well thought and said. I would have thought of this too if I would have thought longer.