Famous Sayings: #18 — ‘You Reap What You Sow’

July 10, 2016

You reap what you sow.

you reap what you sow, you only get what you give, grainfield, the bible

This post is actually dedicated to this saying and a couple of related sayings.

Originally, I wanted to go over this saying: “You only get what you put into it.” However, there wasn’t much I could find in the way of its origin. But, while I was doing some research, I found that it was connected to the saying above.


Where Does the Main Saying Originate?

As some of the other sayings I looked at originate from the Bible, so does this one. The connected verses can be found in The Epistle of Paul to the Apostle of the Galatians.

From Galations 6:7

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows of the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in do season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

My research also led me to the Gospel of Luke as a supporting source, although it gets into the alternative sayings. Jesus was speaking to his disciples and he stressed that those who suffered at that time would be rewarded later. In the middle of his speech is where Jesus started to talk about how good foundations bring about good works:

From Luke 6:38

“Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”


What Are Some Alternatives to ‘You Reap What You Sow’?

When I first started looking up a saying, I came across an undated quote Attributed to the Hall-of-Fame golfer Greg Norman:

You only get out of it what you put into it. If you are a sheep in this world, you’re not going to get much out of it.

Frank Degenaar listed off a few other variations in his Natively Speaking Comics Blog:

  • “You are what you eat”
  • “No pain no gain”
  • “You get what you give”
  • “Life is what you make of it.”

It’s the third variation that I really remember. And it was the original saying that I looked up.

If some of you remember the New Radicals, the group was known as a one-hit wonder that made a splash with its 1998 single, “You Only Get What You Give.”


What Does This Saying Mean?

It’s pretty clear given the evidence, but I would say, “You reap what you sow,” has been given a decidedly negative connotation. More often than not, a person says this as a warning for a person who is doing harm or anything else to hurt another person. Basically, “What comes around goes around.” If you do harm to another person, harm will be done to you.

Frank Denagaar offers this (for “You only get what you give”):

This expression means that you will only benefit from something to the degree of effort that you make or put in.

Staying on the variations:

Max (Motivation Hacker) offers this at the beginning at one of his posts:

The success you achieve in life will be proportional to the quality and quantity of the effort you put in.

Blaz Koz offers yet another perspective, in which she compares the petty, time-wasting activities in life to fast food. For example, when people consume fast food, that impairs their health as time-wasting activities take us from doing the things we need to do to improve ourselves.

Here’s a quote from Koz:

Therefore try to identify all the “fast food” things you are doing in your life and think about what the best replacements would be. It’s a no-brainer, really. Let me give you a few examples. You should switch from burgers to broccoli, from newspapers to quality books, from shallow parties to deep relationships, from checking your online profiles to exercising in nature, and from scanning meaningless articles on the internet to reading posts on this blog. Replace as much fast as possible with real progress. I promise you won’t regret it.

Nice try, though. We still need to keep abreast of current events.


How Do Any of These Variations Apply Today?

You can see this every day, from domestic issues to the international.

For example, take a bad parent.

  • Let’s say a father is very strict and hardly tells his children know he loves them, if at all. When the children grow up, they grow very bitter toward him and hardly visit. This hurts the father.
  • A bad mother neglects her children and speaks very ill of them. The children grow up and break ties with her. She grows very ill but there is no one to take care of her.

From an international level, foreign policy can be fairly destructive. Let’s say one country’s government deposes a despotic leader. While the dictator did violate human rights, the first country could also be arming opposition that proves to be far more dangerous. And those rebels can later turn on the country that armed them. This is not to sympathize with terrorists, but foreign policy is a delicate issue that isn’t the same as playing a game of chess.


Works Cited

Gianni Sibilla. “New Radicals Song Misunderstood, Singer Says” MTV.com. 25 Mar 1999. Web. Retrieved  10 July 2016. <http://www.mtv.com/news/513079/new-radicals-song-misunderstood-singer-says/>.

“Greg Norman Quotes.” AZ Quotes. Web. Retrieved 10 July 2016. <http://www.azquotes.com/author/10869-Greg_Norman>.

“Greg Norman Quotes and Sayings (Page 3)”. Inspiring Quotes. Web. Retrieved 10 July 2016. <http://www.inspiringquotes.us/author/3621-greg-norman/page:3>.

Kos, Blaz. “You Only Get out What You Put into It.” AgileLeanLife. Web. Retrieved 10 July 2016. <https://agileleanlife.com/you-only-get-out-what-you-put-into-it/>.

Maxime. “You Get Out What You Put In.” Motivation Hacker. 2. Jan 2013. Web. Retrieved 10 July 2016. <http://www.motivationhacker.com/you-get-out-what-you-put-in/>.

“You Get What You Give.” Wikipedia. Last Modified on 9 July 2016. Web. Retrieved 10 July 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_Get_What_You_Give>.

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