Back to Index

Listen to sermon by clicking here:

How to Be What You Want to Be
July 13, 1980

St. Paul's United Methodist Church


A woman was awakened early by the sound of the garbage truck and realized she had forgotten to put the cans out. She rushed to the window, put out her head with all the curlers on and all the cream all over her face and said, “You Hoo! Am I too late for the garbage?” And he said, looking at her, “Well lady, we’ll back the truck up and you can hop right in.” There is tremendous interest today in improvement—improvement of our looks, improvement of our health, improvement of our personalities. The book stores burst with self-help books—how to be happy, how to be fulfilled, how to overcome inferiority complexes, telling us how to do everything, how to improve your personality. 

Let me add this morning some insights from the Apostle Paul as he wrote to Galatians some very practical suggestions, directed this morning to the question—how to be what you want to be? This passage from Galatians is the third sermon out of a few verses of Galatians. They’re practical and down to earth. If you're interested in how to be what you want to be, listen to Paul, Galatians 6:7, New Jerusalem translation, “Don't delude yourself into thinking that God can be cheated. Where you sow, there you reap.” The Good News translation: “A person will reap exactly what he or she plants.” You are today what you are because of what you have planted in the past. You are reaping, you are harvesting exactly the crop you have planted. You are what you are. 

Now, some may say it's not quite that simple. There's such a thing as heredity, there’s such a thing as our environment, how my parents raised me, what they taught me, all the influences I've had as I've grown up. Yes, but basically you have chosen. It is in your hands what you emphasize from your heredity and what you de-emphasize. It is you who chooses your filter system—what comes in and what will make you what you are. Basically, you are what you are because of what you have planted and sown. 

Now some of you are very content with what you are. You can look in the mirror—not too bad. Look in the bank—doing quite well, and you have a loving family. That's great. If you're content with the job you've done, that’s beautiful. Just don't get too contented. Because if you're too contented, you are dead. When you cease to grow, cease to stretch, you are dead. 

If you are not content with what you are, I have very good news this morning. You can be what you want to be. Based on the Bible, you can be what you want to be. Young people especially, take note. The future is open. You can decide what you want to be, whatever ideal you want to be. You can decide because it's what you plant. It's what you harvest. The choice is in your hands. If you let anyone else or any group or any peer or any system or any religion take over your life and dictate to you, you have let them. The choice is in your hands. What you reap is what you have sown. 

Let's underscore that. God is not cheated. God's laws, God's systems, God's processes are not readily violated. God's principles are rarely changed. God does not choose to change and influence the process because he's given us the principle—whatever you sow, that is what you reap. The future is determined by choices. It's not predestination necessarily, but the future is usually irrevocable based on the choices you make through your life. God can forgive. But forgiveness cannot change consequences. If your child runs out on the street, you may forgive the child. You may forgive even the driver of the car who hit the child. But forgiveness does not alter the accident, for that was the consequence that was unavoidable and irrevocable. 

Probably most of us mistreat our bodies to degrees, and the consequences are seen years later. Kids don't believe this. Youth don't believe this. How do you tell them because they don't believe it. They think they can eat all that junk food, all that starch, all those sweets. Parents do no favor by letting them, not realizing that junk food, starch and sweets have consequences down the road in the condition and the shape of the body. Some people mistreat their bodies by putting junk into their system, and then when the body breaks down, they expect God to throw a miracle. God rarely throws miracles. God rarely interrupts the process that we have established by what we sow, for God has given us the system. Isn't it better to learn the system? 

John Gough was an alcoholic. Later in his life, he'd been converted, he'd been changed, he was reformed. He looked back on those early years, those wild reckless years and said in his later life, “The scars remain.” Yes, there is forgiveness and yes, there is salvation, but the scars remain for where you sow, there you reap. My father-in-law was a very hard worker, an excellent provider for his family. He worked hard in the foundries in his early years, and then he went into the oil business—fuel oil and gasoline. Ellie can remember him when she was young, leaving the house at seven in the morning, returning for a quick bite at noon. We call it dinner in Minnesota, then coming back for supper at night, and then back out again to come back late at night, day after day, carrying two five gallon cans of fuel oil from the truck to the house in that sub zero 20 and 30 below degree Minnesota weather. He pushed his body, he strained it, Yes, it was very noble and he was an excellent provider for his family, but you can't treat the body like that. He suffered in later years terribly and died with lung trouble. What you sow is what you reap.

Delicato Wines fertilized 15 years ago according to the Modesto bee, and now 15 years later, DCBP is found in the wine. Where you sow, there you reap. This is a law. This is a principle. 

If you cooperate with this principle, you can be what you want to be. Perhaps you can see it readily in crops, in the planting and sowing of crops. Perhaps you can see this readily in the body. What you put into the body affects the body, and there are consequences throughout the rest of life. Perhaps you can readily see that but can't you also see that the same principle applies to us mentally? Your mental outlook today is the result of what you've planted. Your attitude is the result. Your personality is the result of what has been planted and now is being harvested. There is a mental effect upon us just as well as bodily. 

Therefore, if you want to change, if you're not approximating the ideal you set out for yourself, then here are some principles out of this passage. There are two methods I believe will help us be what we want to be—very simple two methods. They’re so simple they pass us by if we don't believe them, or believe them and then not practice them long enough to have any effect. These are the two methods on how to be what you want to be. Number one. Choose what you plan to reap, the kind of harvest you want to reap. It's that simple. What ideal you want to be, what you want to be like, plant those things that produce them. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher said, “The world in which we live is determined by our thoughts.” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” And Paul wrote, “You reap what you plant.” Therefore, what you put into your head comes out in your life. What you allow to be put into your mind comes out in your life. 

A woman was sickly for years and years. A friend met her one day. She hadn't seen her for some time and was amazed to see the woman healthy, robust, cheerful, alive. The friend said, “What on earth happened to you?” The woman said, “It all depends on what you eat and what you think.” Therefore, fill your mind full of God. Fill your mind full of Christ. Think of God in the morning when you wake up. Praise God for what you have and praise God for the beautiful world. Think of God and dwell on God. Think of what is lovely, what is pure, good and kind. And that is what you will be. 

Fill your mind with evil, resentment, bitterness, vindictiveness, sadness, and that is what you will be. Think of yourself as incapable, inferior, insignificant, unworthy, untalented, and that is what you will be. Think of yourself as attractive, good looking, intelligent, creative, capable, courageous, confident, and that is what you will be. The first method is to plant the kind of harvest you want. 

The second method: act as you want to be. Listen to 6:9, “So let us not become tired of doing good, for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.” The time will come. The promise is you will reap. You will harvest so don't get tired. Don't weary. Keep at it. Hang in there. In fact, act as if it has already happened. A preacher said to John Wesley, “Some days I just can't preach. I feel so inadequate. I don't even feel that I have the faith to preach.” John Wesley told him, “Preach faith until you have faith” Act as if it's already happened. Act as if the prayer is already answered. That’s what it means to walk and step out on faith. If you want to be liked, act as if you are liked. Become likeable. Like others and be friendly, and you will be liked in return. If you want to be affirmed, act affirmed. If you want to have courage, act courageously. Walk in the faith that you are courageous. Step out on the promise that the harvest will come. 

A man was once given a medical opinion that there was nothing, there was little they could do for him. He refused to believe it. He believed instead in God and that he could be made well. He acted on that faith and practiced this principle every day—I am a child of God. God's health is within me. All the healing forces of God are mine. I will be well. He lived to the age of 94, happy and vigorous. 

How to be what you want to be? Remember, where you sow, there you reap. Choose to plant what will produce what you want. Act and walk in the faith that it has already happened.

© 1980 Douglas I. Norris