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The Echo Effect


“The Echo Effect” Luke 6:27-38

Karma... what goes around, comes around. It’s the idea, the concept, that you and I “get what we deserve” - be it good or bad - based on our actions. It’s a common precept. It’s practical... it sounds fair... and we’ve even witnessed - or experienced it ourselves, in our own lives - haven’t we?

Of course, in God’s Word, we see it expressed by the phrase “you reap what you sow!” And despite the fact that very few of us live an agrarian lifestyle today (in other words, none of us here today are actual farmers, living only off the produce of our own land), we can still relate to reaping what we sow.

Reaping what we sow is directly referenced in the New Testament. 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” So, saying, “you reap what you sow” is without doubt, biblical.

There are even Old Testament verses that refer to the principle of reaping what’s sown.

Like Proverbs 22:8... “Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster.”

Or... Hosea 10:13, “You have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil.”

Proverbs 1:31 says of the rebellious, “They will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”

The fact is: the law of sowing and reaping goes back to God’s justice.

Of course, even though, most often, we all cry out for justice... and we say we want justice... we really don’t want justice. Justice implies and ultimately demands that you and I get what we deserve! So, we don’t actually want justice... we want mercy.

And, while there IS a real, bonafide spiritual principle at work here - if we sow bad things, we will reap bad things - there is also, thankfully, mercy. Graciously, when it comes to God, you and I don’t always reap what we sow. In fact, in Christ, we seldom (if ever) reap what we sow. In other words, we don’t get what we deserve!

Our God is “slow to anger and abounding in love.” God even said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Exodus 33:19 & Romans 9:15).

God’s love and grace has trumped his justice (which is Good News). Not that there wasn’t a debt to pay... there was definitely a debt... But Jesus paid it! Jesus paid our debt, so that in place of the justice you and I deserved... as followers of Christ, we’ve received “grace upon grace” - we’ve been granted mercy.

Of course, the concept, the principle, the TRUTH of “you reap what you sow” - particularly in this life - and especially in our relationship with other people, remains. And it’s application (and evidence) can certainly be seen all around us... Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a young boy who lived with his grandfather on the top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps. Often, just to hear the sound of his own voice echoing back to him, he would go outside, cup his hands around his mouth, and shout, “hello!” From the canyons the reply would reverberate, “hello... hello... hello... hello.” Then he would call out, “I love you!” And his voice would return, “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

One day the boy misbehaved and had to be disciplined. And as a result the boy responded rather angrily... he took off running shaking is fists and shouted to the top of his lungs, “I hate you!”

And those same words... echoed back: “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.”

So it is in life! It seems to be one of the immutable laws of nature. You and I most often get back what we put in. We tend to get in return exactly what we give. It all comes back. We really do reap what we sow.

What was it Jesus said?

Luke tells us, “treat others exactly as you’d like them to treat you… Don’t judge other people and you will not be judged yourself. Don’t condemn and you will not be condemned. Make allowances for others and people will make allowances for you. Forgive and men will forgive to you… For whatever measure you use with other people they will use in their dealings with you.” Luke chapter 6:31-38.

What Jesus was talking about here... is the “echo effect” or reaping what you sow. Alfred Lloyd Tennyson wrote, “our echoes roll from soul to soul and grow forever and forever.”

I, for one, think the echo effect can be experienced in pretty much every area of life.

It can certainly be seen in our relationships. If you want a friend, you have to be friend. If you want someone to hear you... you need to listen. If you need to be encouraged, be an encourager...

Do you want a spouse who’s gracious, forgiving, tolerant, and supportive? Then be spouse who is gracious, forgiving, tolerant, and supportive. Your behavior will roll from your soul to your spouses soul. That’s just the way it works.

Again, God’s Word says... in fact, Jesus says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat others as you would like to be treated. “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

That’s a terrifying thought... and at the same time... a powerful promise! But... the promise requires that we do our part! “We reap what we sow...”

Which means the “echo effect” is remarkably accurate and consistent. Children echo their parents (if you don’t believe me, try it). Students in a classroom are usually echoes of the their teacher... a congregation tends, more often than not, to be a reflection of the pastor - the church leadership. True followers of Christ can’t help echoing Jesus!

If you’re negative, blunt, severe and demanding... guess what? The echo reflects those same characteristics, almost without exception.

If you want others to judge you... and condemn you... then be judgmental and condemning. If you want others to be understanding and loving, affording you the room, the space, to be you... then try being that way first.

Smiles breed smiles... compassion spreads compassion! A positive, loving, generous attitude is contagious. But so are frowns.

Whatever you and I deposit, the echo effect promises to return.

When it comes to our relationship with others... we do, in fact, most often, reap what we sow.

Let’s strive with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength... to follow Jesus! Let’s be sure to sow love, and grace, and forgiveness. Let’s strive to be just as merciful towards others - as God in Christ has been towards us.

Amen.


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