Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.
(Robert Louis Stevenson)
Wouldn't it be good if we all thought a whole lot less about what it is we will gain from something we are doing and a whole lot more about what others may reap in return? What is the purpose of a seed? Isn't it to produce more growth? We sow one seed, but we harvest a much larger return than just one seed. The farmer who sows wheat seed is not hoping for the return of one grain of wheat - he is hoping for the return to be multiplied. We sometimes think we sow to reap, but I would like us to think differently today - we sow so others may reap from what we have sown. I know we won't always reap the return we hoped for, but that doesn't mean we stop sowing those seeds!
Live and work without pride. Be gentle and kind. Do not be hard on others. Let love keep you from doing that. (Ephesians 4:2)
Live and work without pride. The seeds of pride are sometimes sown without us even being aware we are sowing them, aren't they? We get all 'uppity' in our approach to something because we think we have a better way of doing it and we alienate others when we do. Then we wonder why they don't approach us with their ideas or offer to help us when we need their assistance. It is likely that they are turned off by the seeds we have sown! Live and work without pride - easier said than exemplified, isn't it? Pride has a way of rising up within us as is evident in this thing we call 'comparison'. We 'compare' what we believe should happen to what is happening and then we come to a conclusion that it isn't 'up to our standards'. It could be we even 'compare' the worth of an individual by the 'standards' we imagine they should measure up to, isn't it? We have to learn to shut down this 'comparison' mode inside of each of us if we are to move through life without pride getting in the way.
Be gentle and kind. I think this is a natural outcome of dealing with our pride first. It is no accident that our passage points us toward dealing with our pride FIRST, then toward living with gentleness and kindness. Gentle people are not given to prideful comparisons. Kind individuals are free to extend all manner of kindness because their desire to be noticed is not the most important thing to them. There is a genuine concern for others and it comes forth in gentle responses, kind actions, and moderate temperament. None of these are exemplified when pride is at the core of all we do or say.
Do not be hard on others. Another good reminder of the importance of sowing the right kind of seeds to reap the right kind of harvest. If you are hard on yourself, that is one thing. To be hard on another is to make life miserable for them. I don't recommend either, though. I am probably the hardest on myself - constantly doing a little introspection, evaluating my 'performance', and the coming to the conclusion of 'measuring up' to whatever standard I have set for myself. While this is good to an extent, it can be carried to an extreme - hence we need to deal with the pride issue first. Let love keep us from being hard on others, as well as ourselves.
Love is not a 'thing' - it is a person - Christ Jesus. We move away from prideful attitudes and actions "in Christ Jesus". We move into loving, gentle, and kind actions "in Christ Jesus". We stop being ridiculously hard on ourselves because our standard of measurement is not what we see, but what God sees when he looks at Christ in us. Just sayin!