Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. Galatians 6:7-10 (NRSV)
One of the best encouragements in reading the book of Proverbs each month, one chapter per day, is that we are reminded that we reap what we sow. Of course, this is a generalisation. Proverbs are generalisations. They generally apply. Apply wisdom and you’re blessed, generally. Refuse wisdom and generally life doesn’t go so well.
Whenever we’re disrespected by a person, and perhaps it’s that the person continually disrespects us or even abuses you, or there’s the consistency of a harming pattern in their behavior, we know that they’re not sowing well — the seed they sow is a harming seed.
They’re not just harming us. How they interact with us is how they will also interact with others too. Sure, some won’t see it, and others will allow it, and there are times when others simply haven’t experienced what we have, but time does tell. Truth comes out eventually.
When someone isn’t sowing well when they’re intentionally harming people, there are always consequences eventually; it’s really important we believe this so we can have faith that justice will eventually be done — not in our timeframe, but God’s. This is what we read in a poem like Psalm 37.
There are situations also when a person knows they’re harming people and deep within themselves they wish they didn’t do it (for there is real regret in these, but not enough to produce repentance). Somehow these latter ones know the consequences they’re sowing up for themselves. They know they’re doing the wrong thing.
The former ones, however, who feel they’ll get away with it, are brazen. Narcissistically, they feel entitled to sow abuse and have their way; they feel it’s their right, or at least they wilfully and foolishly dissociate — which is they turn away from facing the truth. They do appear to get away with it. But they don’t. Not over the longer journey. There will be consequences — in this life and in the next.
The consequences in this life for disrespect are the removal of the higher opportunities to be a blessing. Narcissists don’t know what they’re missing out on. They think that being consummately entitled, including for some the feigning of love by playing a game behind the backs of some, is their way to whatever success they’re driven to achieve. But they do dip out. They never get to experience what a heart of kindness, gentleness, graciousness, and compassion can produce. And yet, they don’t understand because they don’t understand. Such an awareness can teach us an understanding that we can only accept.
There are other consequences for withholding blessing from others. The perceptions of others are shaped for what they see and hear. Those engaging in narcissistic behavior may pull the wool over some eyes, but not in many other cases. Damage is sown down the line. Confusion reigns in the lives of those affected, and as soon as a narcissist begins pointing the index finger, the other three fingers indicate where the blame really lies — straight back where there is the refusal to accept responsibility.
And if we believe that God will exact the truth ultimately — an eternal justice — then we need to begin taking God seriously. Those who sow harm in this life will face a heavenly accountability one day. That day could be Today. This is worthy of our reflection now.
When we consider that the nature of life is nobody gets away with anything, it compels us to live an honest life whilst giving us faith that God will exact justice at the proper time. When we take this seriously, we truly begin to make our relationships our key priority.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Tribework