When the news came Sunday night that Osama bin Laden had been found, attacked, and killed by US forces in Pakistan, I found myself remembering the proverb quoted by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 6, verses 7 and 8:
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.
What we sow, we reap. We reap what we sow. This end of Osama bin Laden was predictable, even if it took 10 years to arrive. He chose to live by violence, spawning terrorism and hatred, and his life was doomed to end by violence. It was going to happen. The US and its intelligence and military units were not going to quit until he was found, and he vowed that he would not be taken alive. This day was coming. It was just a matter of time.
We reap what we sow. The things/attitudes/actions/feelings/intentions that we launch in our own lives, seem to come back to us – often coming back to us in multiple ways.
The death of Osama bin Laden does not give me a great sense of victory or the “closure” for the events of 9/11 which so many writers have claimed. I do not rejoice in the death of any person, no matter how evil. Rather I feel a kind of satisfaction that, once again, the truth of scripture has been confirmed. Those who sow violence ultimately reap the results of that violence. Sometimes it happens in a court of law, sometimes through vengeance brought by others, and sometimes through God’s ultimate judgment. I do not smugly say, “Good, we got him” without also being reminded to be careful about what I sow in my life and ministry.
How about you? Are you sowing the gifts of the Spirit which will bring fruitful results in your life, your church, and in the world?
The old saying is true for all of us: We reap what we sow.
Mike Coyner serves as Bishop of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church.