You Reap What You Sow
18a The wicked worketh a deceitful work:
1. vs. 18 states a familiar principle with a slightly different expression.
a. The familiar principle is: you reap what you sow.
b. However, this passage adds one slight difference in the shade of meaning… it adds to the familiar theme by coloring it slightly.
2. This phrase teaches that wicked men who perform their wicked works are often deceived in the end.
a. Those who sow wickedness will reap the results of wickedness.
b. But note the usage of the word “deceitful.”
• Some have translated this “deceptive wages.” (NAS & NIV)
• The point is that these wicked people who are sowing wickedness are DECEIVED into thinking that they will obtain a good crop in the end!
• They really believe that they will reap something “good”. They are deceived.
c. What are they thinking?
• Ecc. 8:11 – Because they have been sowing wickedness for some time now and haven’t been caught, they are deceived into thinking that they can CONTINUE to do the same without being caught.
• Num. 32:23 – They are forgetting another Biblical principle: Be sure your sin will find you out!
• But the wicked are deceived. They genuinely believe that they have outsmarted the “system.”
• They think that they can sow wickedness and reap benefits to themselves.
• They think that they can steal and enjoy the fruits of it…
• They think that they can lie to their advantage…
• They think that they can be lazy and not suffer for it…
• However, this passage teaches that such men are dead wrong. They THINK they are smarter than anyone else, but they themselves have been deceived.
d. Their wages?
• They receive “deceptive wages.”
• In other words, they are going to be PAID back… but it is not what they had hoped… it is not what they were planning on… it is not what they expected.
• Prov. 20:17 – the man who thinks he can steal, get away with it, and enjoy the booty is deceived.
» Bread of deceit may be sweet at first, but eventually it turns to gravel in one’s mouth.
» Eventually the conscience will kick in… and all the sweetness of that stolen bread turns to gravel.
» Eve took fruit she was forbidden to take—and that first bite may have tasted sweet—but what sorrow followed!
» The fear of being discovered; having to look over one’s shoulder; the possibility of facing the disgrace of being exposed… all tend, over time, to turn the stolen bread to gravel.
» It’s not all it’s cracked up to be!
• Prov. 13:5 – the man who thinks he can lie, get away with it, and be advantaged by it is also deceived.
» This man comes to shame… his lies will eventually be discovered.
» Prov. 19:5 – he shall not escape. He will be caught and pay for his lie!
» However, Prov. 11:18 states that the wicked man sowing his wickedness (lying) is deceived!
» He really believes he can get away with it and that it will benefit him in the long run. He couldn’t be further from the truth.
» He will not escape — and he will be shamed!
• Prov. 10:4-5 – other men think that they can sow laziness and reap riches. They too are deceived.
» This man will not gain from his laziness. He will be poor.
» In addition, he will be ashamed… his folly will be exposed.
3. This Proverbs 11:18 states a familiar principle, but adds to it this thought—the one who sows wickedness not only with reap what he sows, but he is going to be surprised by what he reaps, because he was deceived!
a. His wages will be “deceptive.” He will be tricked by them.
b. Hebrews scholars state that there is a pun involved in this passage… one that is virtually impossible to translate.
c. One interesting note about Hebrew puns is that they are never intended to by funny. They are usually biting…even sarcastic, as is the case here.
d. Here is his folly: he is so foolish that he has actually convinced himself that he can DEFY this Biblical principle. He genuinely believes that he is the exception to the rule—that he is so smart, he can sow wickedness and reap something good and beneficial from it. He is deceived!
e. Have you ever spoken to people in jail? They all seem to have this mentality—even AFTER they have been caught! (If I only had done it this way, I would not have been caught! Better luck next time!)
1. In contrast to the wicked man working his wickedness is the righteous man who sows righteousness.
2. The righteous man sows righteousness.
a. In other words, his works are good… in harmony with God’s Word.
b. His life is clean and pure… he does things RIGHT.
c. He doesn’t fudge with the rules nor does he overstep the law.
d. While others might lie seeking personal advantage, he tells the truth even if it hurts.
e. While others might steal to advantage themselves, he sows righteousness. He works hard and gives to others… rather than taking from others.
f. While others are sitting around letting others do the work—he is one of those who DOES the work. He is sowing righteousness.
g. Eph. 4:25,28… the new man behaves in new ways. He puts away lying, stealing, cheating, laziness—and tells the truth, works hard, and gives.
h. Salvation ought to CHANGE the way we live… who we ARE ought to have an impact on how we behave…
i. We WERE like the wicked who sowed wickedness. Now we are changed… righteous. We are now to sow righteousness.
3. And there are wonderful rewards for sowing righteousness.
a. This man has a SURE reward.
b. Sure: can mean either firm; secure; reliable OR true.
c. In this proverb it is probably best to understand it in the sense of TRUE… in contrast to the deceitful reward of the wicked. Their reward is NOT true… it is a lie… deceitful.
d. If it is understood in the sense of firm, secure or reliable, then the contrast is between a reward for the wicked that they were hoping to get but proved to be “unreliable.” The righteous however, will receive a reward that IS reliable… one they can count on… one that is sure!
e. The two concepts overlap a bit…
f. One thing is clear: what the righteous man receives for sowing righteousness is a reward that he can count on… one that is REAL… a true reward!
g. Both men (the wicked and righteous) sows their seeds… and both seem to have hope of a reward. One is a false hope; the other a true hope!
4. Of course, there are some men who DO seem to successfully defy this principle. (Psalm 73)
a. This is what caused Asaph so much confusion and heartache.
b. He saw evil men sowing wickedness who DID seem to benefit from it! It was as if they sowed wickedness and reaped a good reward.
• vs.3 – they prospered…
• vs.5 – they are not in trouble…
• vs.7 – they have more than heart could wish
• vs.8 – they sow corruption and seem to reap no trouble… prosperity… strength… power…
c. Asaph sowed righteousness. (vs. 13)
• He seemed to think it wasn’t fair. He sowed righteousness but reaped plagues! (vs. 14)
• I’m sure we have all experienced similar thoughts… it seems like we are NOT reaping what we have sown.
d. These apparent contradictions to the Biblical principle were all easily resolved by viewing the situation from eternity’s perspective.
• vs. 17 – when he went into the sanctuary, he saw things from God’s perspective.
• The principle usually holds true in this life.
• But there are some apparent exceptions.
• However, in eternity there are NO exceptions!
• Vs. 18 – Those who sowed wickedness in this life and SEEMED to reap prosperity and blessing, will eventually find themselves in slippery places!
• Soon they will die and face God. In that day, all facades will be removed. They will in that day reap what they have sown.
• Before the Great White Throne (and the Bema) men will be judged according to their works… by a Judge who is omniscient… and knows our hearts and motives.
• There will be no exceptions in that day.
• Many men will receive a “deceptive wage” in that day… something they didn’t count on.
• Think of the many religious leaders who do not know Christ—to discover that they had been sowing corruption and will be quite surprised by what they reap… Mother Theresa… the suicide bombers…
• They built their house upon the sand… and were deceived, because from their perspective, the house looked pretty good! But they were deceived by their works.
• Multitudes of religious folks are deceived by their works.
5. What an encouragement to realize that our reward is SURE… regardless of how things appear from our earthly perspective!
a. We need NOT be deceived by our works.
b. We can serve the Lord, live for Him, and KNOW that our reward in heaven is sure… even if we don’t have much to show for our efforts in this life!
c. Those who sow righteousness in this life and laying up a sure foundation for the life to come.
d. I Tim.6:19 – Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.