Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness. Hosea 10:12 (NASB)
Admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14–15
When I was about 10 years old, I bought my sister a set of checkers for her birthday. She wasn’t impressed. But I was excited: I would now have an opportunity to play checkers with her (and hopefully beat her) because she had a set of checkers. I gave that gift I wanted to receive. But my plan didn’t work very well; she didn’t like to play checkers. I just thankful she was a forgiving person.
More often our sowing is much more subtle. We make our investments so that we will receive a return. We invest time in a relationship so that we will be able to leverage a business deal. We go to a certain school so that we can get a better shot at a top-shelf job. We raise our children to do well so that they don’t give us a bad name. None of those things are bad in and of themselves. But they would certainly qualify as secondary or even tertiary purposes. Surely there is a better purpose in life than simply getting a good job, or the next deal, or having our children uphold our good name.
Our calling in Christ is to seek good for others, to do good to others, to reflect the righteousness of God. Righteousness, goodness, kindness, patience, and encouragement are on dramatic display in the life and ministry of Jesus. When we believe in him, we not only embrace those good things toward us, but acknowledge that that is the way we should embrace others. That goes for the people in our family, the person next door, and the flood victims two states away.