The examples of Saddam and Joseph teach us the importance of sowing what you want to reap.
We have all heard the expression, “What goes around, comes around.” As I sat and watched the news of the capture of Saddam Hussein, I quickly thought of the scripture that says you reap what you sow. Only nine months ago Saddam was a king who lived in a palace, surrounded in riches. At his capture he was found in a six-foot hole only big enough for him to fit in. For Saddam to be captured in a grave-sized hole seemed fitting for a man who was responsible for sending over 300,000 people to their graves.
Saddam, a wicked ruler, was reaping what he had sowed. How can you not think of scriptures like Proverbs:22:8, “He who sows wickedness reaps trouble, and the rod of his fury will be destroyed,” or Galatians:6:7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (New International Version)?
There is a story of another man who became a ruler in the Bible. His name was Joseph. Because of the jealousy of his brothers, he was sold into slavery. Joseph was also wrongly charged and sent to prison, but he held to his faith. God did not forget Joseph and, while going through his trial, Joseph was able to learn some valuable lessons of compassion and caring. Joseph found favor because of his wisdom that came from God, and he was given the second position in command.
Joseph reaped what he sowed. He sowed obedience and faithfulness to God. He was faithful and did not give in to the seduction of his boss’s wife; he became a servant to those who were in prison and found favor with the jailer. The stories of Saddam and Joseph had completely different endings.
So what does this have to do with us? The principle applies to us in the fact that we do indeed reap what we sow. God allows us to make choices every day about how we will treat people, and about what we decide is right or wrong. We decide how we handle things that we are afraid of and want to run from. Greed, self-pity, arrogance, prejudice, cruelty and laziness all grow over time. We become those things through the choices we make. The opposite is also true—when we choose to trust God, we become more like Him.
Saddam and Joseph are the examples of two opposite choices made. Saddam practiced greed, murder, prejudice and cruelty. Joseph practiced love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—the fruit of God’s Spirit (Galatians:5:22-23). Both of these men reaped what they sowed as promised by God.
It is easy to fool people for a time (Matthew:23:27-28). You can paint a tomb so that it looks good on the outside, but inside it’s full of decaying bones, much like the hole in which they found Saddam. Inside was the decayed, cruel Saddam. We can all put up a front and pretend to be good, while inwardly we decay with bitterness, hate, anger, gossip and lying. On the other hand, if we seek God and His way of life, God is formed in us. We become more and more secure in Him and build more and more of His character within us.
“For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops” (Luke:12:2-3).
Beauty is revealed as well. Three times in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew:6:4, 6, 18). The kindness, sincerity, integrity, goodwill, sweetness of spirit and service you have offered that no one noticed or applauded is valued. Your Heavenly Father sees it, and He will reward you. There is no righteous behavior that will remain secret, and there is no unrighteous behavior that will remain secret. The fruit is finally apparent. What you sow, you reap!
Joseph was an instrument of giving life to many people, while Saddam took innocent lives. They were at very different ends of the spectrum, because they reaped what they sowed in life.
Let’s us all work very hard to sow good, to make this world a little easier for our brothers and sisters so that our Father in heaven will reward us openly.