“God is not mocked,” Paul wrote to the Galatians, “for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Of course, he meant it as a caution. It is contrary to the order of agriculture to get a vegetable you didn’t plant, and it is just as contrary to the order of heaven to get something—an answer to prayer, relief from sorrow, success in self-improvement—that you haven’t worked for. Paul makes it clear: such would be a mockery and a denial of God’s perfection, goodness, and justice.
But I’m not writing to talk about the perils of expecting to reap the things we haven’t sown. No, instead, I want to talk about the comforting and encouraging fact of the matter—we will reap whatsoever we sow.
It’s true that a gardener cannot cheat nature by sowing dandelions in an effort to get tulips. However, it’s just as true that nature will never cheat the gardener by causing dandelions to grow from tulip bulbs. That means that the gardener doesn’t have to spend the whole growing season worrying about whether she’ll get tulips. She planted tulips, so she will get tulips.
Similarly, when we work for something, we don’t have to spend our time worrying whether our efforts will pay off. When we give our all and allow God to improve and perfect our best efforts, we can be confident that He will help us to reap abundantly from whatsoever we have sown.
In recent months, I’ve experienced the reality of Paul’s promise that “whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.” In preparing for graduate school, I met with professors and discussed possible programs, wrote and rewrote my application materials, studied for and took the GRE, and used up every other spare minute, filling out forms, mailing off transcripts, or re-punctuating my personal statements. I knew I faced stiff competition, and, frankly, I occasionally feared that my exhausting efforts might be in vain. However, I refused to give up, trusting that God would honor my efforts and bless me to reap the best fruit that my efforts could yield.
After the heady days of submitting applications came the nerve-racking wait. Then, all I could do was pray and hope—despite the nagging fear that I could have sown in vain. Finally, after spending weeks on a couple of waiting lists, I finally heard that a spot had opened up for me at the school that I had hoped to attend throughout the entire process.
I shouldn’t credit my own talent or brilliance for that success—because I don’t think that I have enough of either to credit them—but I do think that, with the blessing of heaven, my hard work in sowing prepared me to reap, even when my own qualifications were limited.
It’s true that we cannot mock God, but it’s also true that God will never mock us! Just as He sends rain and sun to the hard-working gardener, He will send light and strength to His hard-working children, whatever good thing it is that they hope to achieve. He loves us, and, because of that, we can be sure that we will, with His help, reap abundantly from the things that we sow. Our Father in Heaven will not let us work in vain.
The Savior asked His disciples, “[W]hat man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?” He continued, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:9-11). We will not receive serpents when we ask for fish, gather dandelions when we plant tulips, or find failure and frustration when we give our best to achieve worthwhile goals. God respects us and our efforts—and that, I think, is the encouraging, inspiring promise stored away in Paul’s declaration that “whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”