Seedtime And Harvest
"Whatsoever a Man Soweth, That Shall He Also Reap."
THE LESSON—That the happiness or the unhappiness of middle life and old age are the result of the thoughts and deeds of early life.
The teacher who can help the little children to avoid the entertainment of wrong thoughts and the teacher who can eliminate from the minds of the youth the belief that the "sowing of wild oats" is a harmless—perhaps necessary—touch of life, may feel that he has accomplished much. The teaching carries with it the necessity of supplanting wrong thoughts with right ones.
"Some of the great declarations of the Scriptures have become so familiar to us that we speak the words and lose much of their significance. One great truth which seems to have lost its power with many is that verse in the letter of Paul to the Galatians, in which he says, 'Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.'
"What does Paul mean? He means simply this, that your life and mine, like the life of the world of nature about us, has its seedtime and its time of harvest—that if the seedtime of our early life finds us planting good thoughts, kindly deeds and loving words, the harvest of the later life will be peace and blessedness; if the seedtime of life finds us sowing evil thoughts, bad deeds and ungodly words, the harvest will be remorse, bitterness and the suffering which must come from such a sowing.
"Everybody who lives fifty years or more has two looks at life; first, a forward look, and, last, a backward look. It is wise to plan in advance for the backward look by living so that the retrospect will be gratifying and satisfying and comforting, and not of a kind to bring mourning over wasted years and lost opportunities for doing good.
"Let us consider the lesson of nature for a moment. In the springtime the farmer plants the kernels of corn shelled from ears like this. [Draw the ear of corn, making first a solid yellow background for the ear and then putting in the fine lines with brown or black.] He has every reason to believe that when the harvest time comes he will reap a crop of many hundredfold, because each kernel is expected to send up a little green shoot, like this, and each stalk is capable of bearing at least one ear of corn. [Quickly draw the ground line in brown and the corn shoot in green, completing Fig. 25.] And this shoot will grow larger and larger until the stalk is completed, and as time goes on and the harvest time comes, the corn will hang in generous ears thereon. [With broad sweeps of green, and, if you wish, a touch of brown, complete Fig. 26. This includes covering part of the ear with green to form the husk.] Note especially this fact, that the farmer, when he plants the seed, believes that God will send the summertime, when the corn will grow to its fullness, and also the autumn, when the harvest is ready. Just think what would happen if we had no summer or autumn—just the springtime. Do you not see that we would soon starve? We would plant the seed and there would be no harvest.
"Let us see how very much like this are our very own lives. We do not have a springtime and a summer and an autumn and a winter of life every year. No, we have but one of each during our lives, if we reach old age. Springtime is our childhood, summer is our young manhood and young womanhood, autumn is our middle age and winter comes when the hair is white and the footsteps faltering. The first part of a full life is the seedtime, and the latter half is the harvest-time. Some of us may think that we may, while we are young, form habits that are bad and expect to get rid of them before the harvest-time. Still others of us do not seem to find out very early in life that there is a seedtime and a harvest-time, and we realize it only after we have reached the harvest period, and then we cannot change the character of the seed we have to reap.
"But that which is true of the one who has sown the seeds of wrong in his younger years is just as true of him who has sown good seeds in his childhood and youth. There is no more comforting thought than that which comes with the assurance that God will send the rich harvest if we sow early in life the seeds of purity of living and the seeds of loving kindness.
"The wrong thoughts which try to crowd into our childhood and youth are like the weeds which threaten to destroy the good grain, and sometimes succeed. Let us watch them carefully and uproot them.
"The Christian welcomes the thought that there is to be a harvest-time. The sinner hates the thought; he would that his entire life be a seedtime; but it cannot be. The law of seedtime in life is just as firmly fixed as are the seedtime and harvest of nature. Let us learn the lesson. It means life or death to you and to me."
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