“I’m so sick of these people criticizing me all the time,” I spouted off to my friend. My reaction to some harsh words from church members popped the lid off my tea kettle. “They are such destructive, nasty people…….” and on and on I went, criticizing the people who talked trash about me. Hmmmmmm…….yes, it’s easy for anyone to see when I put it there in black and white, right? Sadly, in my younger days, I possessed only a limited knowledge of God’s principles for sowing and reaping. I did not connect the dots between my judgmental attitudes and what I regularly reaped in my life.
I wonder how much less criticism may have come my way had I not been sowing that bad seed myself. God’s laws are fixed, unchanging. To the degree we understand them and obey them is the measure of how well our years on earth turn out for us. A list of the inferior seed I’ve planted over the years and the kind of harvest it brought to my life, formed in my mind. Here’s part of it:
Gossip and criticism- This used to be a norm for me throughout childhood and early adulthood. I’m a natural busybody so this one was easy for the enemy. I’ve reaped more piles of gossip and criticism in every single area of my life, than I can express to you. As a pastor’s wife, minister of music, high school teacher, and in other arenas of my life, I’ve received some pretty consistent, serious poundings. I used to share my woes with other people in my career areas. I’ve not met but a couple who have received the level of judgement I experienced. At the time, I thought my personality just triggered this kind of behavior in people. Then, I’d meet other creative, innovative folks who didn’t seem to be in nearly as much hot water as I was much of the time. I wondered why they were so much more lovable than me. I’m not so sure they were, I think they just sowed better seed.
Perfectionism– I used to be unable to rest or play until I achieved whatever unattainable and unrealistic goals I set within a situation. Everything from housework and hairdos to lesson plans and worship sets, I expected to be flawless. I reaped losses in relationships and crushed spirits in those around me. People figured out that most of the time their best fell short of my standards.
Poor listening skills- I consistently interrupted, talked over people and didn’t carefully listen when others talked. I simply planned what I would say next. I still struggle with these poor behaviors. Too many years of this bad seed means more years of weeding out the unacceptable behavior patterns and habits I formed. These days, I must consciously think about NOT talking too much and dominating a conversation. The harvest of being this way is that people feel de-valued and I miss important feelings and thoughts from others because I’m not being a champion listener like James encourages us to be in his book.
There’s a lot more on my list, but you get the idea. May I encourage you to be authentic and look honestly at ALL the seed you are sowing. Examine your thoughts, behaviors and attitudes. You want to know where to look? Start with anyplace in your life where you are experiencing some trouble, reaping a bad harvest. Is there a possibility you are simply seeing the product of seed you planted? You may have planted this seed many years ago and forgotten about it.
Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying to mean that any trouble in your life is a result of what you’ve sown. We know that God allows trouble in the life of the righteous. My question is, how much of our trouble is of our own making? God can redeem our self-created messes and certainly teach us through them but I’m not convinced this is His very best for us. So, what did you sow today?