What Are We Planting?

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life. (The Message, Gal 6:7-8)

So what is it that we really want in life? Whatever it is, that’s what we must plant, water, open to the light, nourish. It’s such a simple concept. But sometimes what we say we want is different than what we’ve actually been planting.

For instance, we think we’re going for happiness, and we realize that we’ve been planting complaints all over the place (nothing is going right; we should’ve done this or that, ya de da de da). Or we really want to be appreciated, but all we’re doing is criticizing others. Or we want others to consider our views, but we don’t listen to theirs with an open mind. Or we yearn to feel loved, but we’re acting out of anger. We may really be crying for attention … but in an ineffective way, in a way that plants weedy characteristics we don’t want to harvest.

And then Paul points out the mistake of selfishness, which he explains as ignoring others, indeed, ignoring God.

And I don’t think ignoring God is anything any of us who desire to follow and understand God want to do. We wouldn’t go out and buy selfishness seeds to plant in our thought garden so we could harvest them later. But that’s what we’re doing each time we choose to look only to ourselves for the answers, think others aren’t good enough, choose to focus on the negative or the not-enoughs, condemn ourselves as unworthy and incapable, choose to treat others disrespectfully. We’re choosing to ignore God who is speaking to us words of peace, encouragement, and blessings.

So let’s choose to respond to God. Let’s choose to be of service to God and humanity. Easier said than done. Yes, I know. But the thing about human existence is that we keep getting opportunities to make the right choices. In fact, we can see every moment as a new chance to embrace God, to act unselfishly, to give of ourselves, to serve our neighbor.

To do this, we have to listen attentively, with our whole being, to what God is telling us. Where would God like us to be? What would God want us to do? How would God want us to act? How would God like us to think? And … how is God loving us? How is God caring for us? How is God meeting our need so that we can, in turn, meet others’ needs?

For instance, when a friend needs help, but we have something fun going on, we have the opportunity to put that friend above mere entertainment. When our family is getting ready for dinner, we can stop homework a little early so that we can set the table. When we’re on vacation, we have the chance to ask our family members what they’d like to do.

And the more we pay attention to God, the more we will be aware of the opportunities we have to be of service to others, which is really being of service to God. And as we glorify God by selfless service, then we feel God’s loving presence touching our lives in ways we couldn’t begin to imagine. And we will find that our harvest will be abundantly good.