Survival Tip #6: Responsibility

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 7/26/2020
Proverbs  Wisdom 

This morning I want to talk about one of the most “elementary” principles of human existence, of human life. The principle is introduced in Genesis 8:22 when God makes a covenant with Noah after destroying almost every living creature in judgement. God says, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.”

The operative phrase is “seedtime and harvest.” As long as the earth endures, this creation cycle of sowing and reaping will not cease. It’s a permanent, and foundation to our human existence as is the rising/setting of the sun, or the passing of seasons. Many of you are acquainted w/the wisdom of Ecclesiastes. Eccles. 3:1,3 says, “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven. . . a time to plant (sow) and a time to uproot.”

This year Lara and I got quite ambitious and doubled the size of our garden. Months ago we planted lettuce, beans, sweet peas, cucumbers, broccoli, brussel sprouts. We planted tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes… Every day or so I got out and water the garden. Our Schnauzer Rudy tails behind me. He lets out this high pitch squeal because he loves drinking from the hose. He’s hilarious! But the little booger is super observant. Last year Rudy saw me picking cherry tomatoes and now he’s obsessed w/them. He runs over to the tomatoes every morning hunting for any tomatoes. He ate so many last year he came in the house and threw them up everywhere! So, we have to be super vigilant about picking every tomato!

At the end of each year, everything gets uprooted and tossed in the compost bin, and the process starts all over again! Sowing follow by reaping. Seedtime followed by harvest. Planting followed by uprooting. This is how life happens. But the really startling application of this life principle is expounded upon throughout Scripture. . .

For example, Galatians 6:7 says, “Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap.” What’s interesting is that this verse has nothing to do with agriculture. There are other kinds of seeds that we can sow! >> (1) We can sow seeds “spiritually.” Galatians 6:8 says, “. . . the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.” >> (2) We can sow seeds “relationally.” Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” Our “present” has been profoundly affected by our past actions. In the same way, our “future” will be profoundly affected by our present actions. There is a correlation of cause/effect, sowing/reaping, past/present, present/future.

But Galatians 6:7 goes deeper still—for it tells us that God has indeed staked his reputation on this principle. That we shouldn’t be deceived, were going to reap what we have sown agriculturally, spiritually, relationally, and in every way. To try to thwart, or disrupt this reality, is to mock God, it’s to engage in self-deception! Consider Jeremiah 17:10, “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Now every once in a while, we humans attempt to defy God’s natural laws. I’m going to embarrass myself, but true story. When I was a kid my parents bought me a bright yellow Huffy bike with bright blue pads. No helmet. No elbow or knee pads. But still. I proudly rode that bike over to the water plant, where Mr. Lowe daily managed the town’s water supply. Such a kind man. At the water plant there was this concrete trailer ramp, with a 3+ foot drop off. Trucks would back up to that ramp and unload chemicals/supplies.

One day I sat on edge of the ramp contemplating jumping off it with my bike. I began believing I could defy the natural laws of gravity, and that my bike pads would protect me from harm if things went badly. Mr. Lowe saw me and knew exactly what I was thinking. He warned me, “those pads won’t help you if you try to jump off that.” But I knew better, and when he left, there I went! I thumbed my nose at the law of gravity (and common sense) and paid dearly. Do stupid things, win stupid prizes! Sow good, reap good; sow stupid, reap stupid.

I know this is a series on Proverbs, and we’ll get there in a minute. But consider Psalm 1. Psalm 1! The entire Psalm is just six verses, and packs a powerful punch. Do you think it was included first by mere happenstance? Psalm 1:1-6, “How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.”

Application time out! What kind of seeds are being sown? What kind of actions? What kind of deeds? What kind of thoughts? What is the happy person delighting “in” and meditating “upon”? He has a healthy, vibrant fear of God! And what then are the fruits he reaps? Well happiness for sure! But also (verses 3-4)… “He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”

** If you’re present life isn’t like this, what seeds have you sown in the past? If you want your future to be different than your past, what seeds are you sowing in the present, right now? **

Psalm 1:4-6, “The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.”

It’s not just that the wicked have “bad luck.” Bad things always happening. The sky is falling again. Things didn’t work out. No, the Lord has a reputational stake in this matter of sowing and reaping. Do not be deceived God will not be mocked. A wicked person will reap what he’s sown. He will stand in judgement—what we reap is a kind of judgement on what we’ve sown or not sown. But I love verse 6. If you are a righteous person, God has your back. Your life will not culminate in ruin. God watches over you, he will see to your blessing and prosperity.

Here is what is REALLY HARD. As a pastor people seek the church out in their time of need. When a person is in crisis, they are often quite anxious, and desperate. They are looking for a quick fix. Their patience for spiritual instruction, their receptivity, is extremely low. They barely tolerate any kind of instruction, or prayer, or spiritual direction—they want you to fix their crisis right now! But if I really want to help a person. . . if I don’t want to mock God. . . I have a profound responsibility to help a person correlate the past w/present, and their present with their future. What they’ve sown (past) with what their reaping (present)…. What they are sowing (present) and what their hoping to reap tomorrow (future). A mindset has to first change, if a life is to change. Its Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a person… but in the end its led (and is leading) to death!”

The hard part of love is breaking a mindset of self-deception. The goal of preaching, teaching, parenting, discipleship, pastoring is to help people learn the way of wisdom. But if a person is stubborn, our next best hope is that their pain, and brokenness (the fruit of their deeds) will teach them wisdom. We can meet them in their pain and point them to a better way. Sadly, and tragically, and increasingly though. . . people don’t ever learn. They double down on their folly, they pick up their pace, and they race down the path leading to death. There is no spectacle more sad than watching a person crash and wreck, and be left bruised and bloody and bankrupted, from their failed philosophy of life.

Job 4:8, “As I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” Hosea 8:7a, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind…”

Hosea 10:22, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” Matthew 7:16-18, “You’ll recognize [people] by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize [people] by their fruit.”

So, we come to Proverbs. Proverbs 6:6-8. An ANT has more common sense than some people! “Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. Without leader, administrator, or ruler, it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during harvest.” Look at that verse carefully. Without leader, administrator, ruler an ANT takes present responsibility for its own desired future!

It strikes me that one of the great failures of humanity, and most social policy, is to minimize personal preparation, responsibility, sowing/reaping. Everyone is a victim of someone else’s sowing (or lack thereof). People are never a victim of their sowing (or lack thereof). When we allow people to live in self-deception… in the sheer unreality. . . in the belief that they are essentially, and primarily a victim of society, are we really helping them? When social policy perpetually thwarts the principle of sowing then reaping, are we really empowering people? Or are we crippling them? Or even disabling them?

Proverbs 6:9-11, “How long will you stay in bed, you slacker? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit.”

There is real calamity in our world. There are bad things, there are evil things that happen to people for which they have no control nor blame. There are “true” victims of darkness. But what we’ve done is we treat everyone and everything as victims. Not just those in extraordinary circumstances, but those in ordinary circumstances. Were so afraid to call a slacker a slacker. But if you spend your energy in grievance today, what will you reap tomorrow? If you assume a posture of victimhood today, what will you reap tomorrow? If you make no effort to do good for yourself or others today, what good will result tomorrow?

**The reason our society is failing is because instead of sowing differently we’re demanding that our leaders, enable us to take/steal/reap from where we’ve not sown, and from people we’ve come to believe we're the victims of! **

Here is the new narrative of our culture. Because your black, you are a victim of someone white. Because you are white, anything good that you do or have done, has come because you are inherently evil/ or racist/ or bad/ or privileged/ or advantaged. Does anyone now see how deceptive, how evil, how morally bankrupt this narrative is?

God has staked his reputation on this principle—that your sowing will lead to your reaping. Maybe you have indeed been victimized. Maybe you have indeed been bullied, intimidated, disadvantaged in some way. That doesn’t exempt you from doing what’s need today for a better tomorrow. Suppose you are indeed half the moral monster our woke society accuses you of being. Suppose because of your past deeds, the sins of your fathers, you’ve advanced at someone else’s expense. What then shall you do about it? You can’t go back in the past to change the present, but you can sow something different in the present to reap a better future.

Proverbs 12:11, “The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies lacks sense.” Proverbs 12:12, “The wicked desire what evil people have caught, but the root of the righteous is productive.” We can live in grievance, or we can live in productivity. We can live in the fantasy (unreality) hoping to reap where we haven’t sown… or we can get about sowing better today.

Proverbs 13:4, “The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied.” Proverbs 13:4, “Disaster pursues sinners, but good rewards the righteous.” Proverbs 14:23, “There is profit in all hard work, but endless talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 29:21, “A servant pampered from his youth will become arrogant later on.” Proverbs 17:2, “A prudent servant will rule over a disgraceful son AND SHARE IN AN INHERITANCE AMONG BROTHERS!” Proverbs 20:4, “The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks and there is nothing.” Proverbs 21:25, “A slacker’s craving will kill him because his hands refuse to work. He is filled with craving all day long, but the righteous give and don’t hold back.” Proverbs 22:29, “Do you see a person skilled in his work? He will stand in the presence of kings. . .”

Proverbs 24:27, “Complete your outdoor work, and prepare your field; afterward, build your house.” Proverbs 24:28-29. What is the slacker’s mindset? “Don’t testify against your neighbor without cause. Doesn’t deceive with your lips. Don’t say, ‘I’ll do to him what he did to me; I’ll repay the man for what he has done.” Fanning grievance/blame/victimhood, leaves people utterly bankrupt. But fostering better sowing today, enables us to build something better tomorrow. And God stakes his reputation on it.

Scripture Verses

Ecclesiastes 3:1,3; Galatians 6:7-9; Psalm 1; Matthew 7:16-18; Proverbs 6:6-11; 12:11, 13:4, 14:23; 17:12; 21:25; 29:25

Worship Playlist

Found in You by Vertical Worship

Forever Reign by Hillsongg

Living Hope by Bethel Music

Fade Away by Passion

Study Questions

  1. Where in your life do you wish you had practiced greater self-discipline in the past?
  2. What seeds of responsibility would you like to start planting in this season of life?
  3. Write a prayer asking God to guide you in sowing responsibly for this life and the next. 

Apply It!


Our In the Wilderness sermon series booklet provides a place for sermon notes, questions for reflection, and a challenge to read through the book of Proverbs in 31 days. You may pick up a booklet at Lakeside on Sunday mornings or weekdays between 8:00 am & 4:00 pm.