… Then Don’t Do That

A Glance at the Law of Sowing and Reaping

Henny Youngman told a joke about the guy that goes to the doctor and says “Doctor, it hurts when I do this”, and the Doctor says “then don’t do that”.

“…then don’t do that!”

Who’s more out of touch, the guy over-thinking the problem who doesn’t realize that a simple action will solve his problem, or the doctor who is too simple minded to understand that the problem is more complicated than what he observes at first glance? That joke is kind of funny, but either way it illustrates how easily we can miss the mark sometimes when trying to solve a problem without seeing the bigger picture.

Out of touch

I recall a Saturday Night Live skit called Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford. In this commercial parody, a married couple (Steve Martin, Amy Poehler) are confused by their money woes, so a spokesperson (Chris Parnell) presents them with Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford, a guide to prevent financial debt. [Season 31, 2006].  They tried debt consolidation, taking out loans to cover their debt, the spokesperson came up with a unique new program for managing your debt.  It’s called Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.  They seem a bit perplexed at the idea that if you don’t have any money you should not buy anything. When you open the cover, the first page just says: Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.

“Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.”

We laugh, but we all have silly thoughts like this from time to time. The “then don’t do that” plan is sometimes an overlooked solution for many problems in people’s lives.  Here are a few scenarios that we could benefit from this simple advice:

“Whenever I hang out with this person I get into trouble” – Then don’t do that!

“I always stuff myself and feel miserable when I go to a buffet” – Then don’t do that!

“Even when I scream at my kids they don’t listen to me” – Then don’t do that!

“When I watch too much TV I get depressed”- Then don’t do that!

There are other variations of this principle as well, such as the “Then do it!” response.

“I should take a class to sharpen my skills” – “Then do it!”

“I always feel good when I am regularly getting exercise” “Then do it!”

“I know I should break up with him…” – “Then do it!”

“I need to start saving more money” – “Then do it!”

In other words, stop doing things you know you aren’t suppose to do and get on with doing what you are suppose to be doing! 

Stop talking and take action!


As fallen people we are the masters of self-deceit.  We have an agenda of what we want or how we want things to be.  Sometimes our appitites are just more important to us than  our future hopes.  

We are willing to make some changes or even give up things to solve a problem as long as it doesn’t threaten what is most important to us.  We would like life in abundance down the road, instead we choose life on our terms, now.

“We are willing to make some changes or even give up things to solve a problem as long as it doesn’t threaten what is most important to us.”

For example, the couple in the Saturday Night Live skit were willing to consider a program to help them get out of debt, but the idea of not spending money they did not have was too big of a compromise.  They needed another way that doesn’t prohibit there spending freedoms.


I have struggled with a food addiction for much of my life and have experienced this first hand.  I am willing to work towards losing weight as long as I can still eat when I am hungry or continue to eat certain foods that are not good for me. I may tell myself I am willing but then I prove myself wrong, (self-deceit).  I find myself compromising because I am not willing to follow the “then don’t do that!” advice. And somehow I wonder why I struggle to get to my ideal weight. Whenever I have had success it was because an outside source (like my doctor) helped me see what my future will look like if I don’t change my habits. Sometimes that not even enough.  I need to own the results for the future, now.

It’s amazing how many weight loss programs there are out there. It is a much bigger industry then it really should be.  They rely on people not having the discipline to follow the simple “then don’t do that” plan.  

Everyone is looking for the magic pill to come out that will enable them to lose weight without going through the motions of exercising and eating right.  We all know this, yet we continue our search for the miracle cure.  

I want to write a one page book and title it 2 Simple Steps to Losing Weight.  When you turn the page it says, 1. Exercise every day for 20 minutes 2. Eat only healthy food in moderation. That’s it. Don’t over think it. Don’t look for a pill or special herbs or a machine that tilts and turns and vibrates.  Just decide if that is what you want, then do those two things.

The dreaded “but” statement.

Whenever we get a slight glimpse of a clear honest assessment of how we should proceed we turn right around and tell ourselves a lie that negates our good thought.  Our “I should…” or “I shouldn’t…”statements too often are followed by the dreaded “but” statement.

“I know I should go to the gym today… but, I have too much to do today”

“I know I should get up and do something today… but, I’m too tired”

“I know I shouldn’t have that pie… but, it’s sooo good”

“I know I shouldn’t let him treat me that way… but, I love him.”

Most of the time when we compromise how we spend our time it is because we choose the certain benefits of now, over the uncertain benefits of later.

“Enjoy life. Think of all the women who passed up dessert on the Titanic.”

The message of instant gratification has been pounded into our brain by commercialism and industry. It has become a very steep uphill battle for potential consumers to choose future benefits over the comfort of the here and now.  We indulge in things we know will harm us and do it with little conviction or thought of cause and effect.

“When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.”― Marilyn Manson (a man of many granted wishes and destroyed dreams)

Sowing and Reaping

In the natural world the law of cause and effect tells us that for every cause or action there is an effect that is triggered.  For every effect there was something that caused it.  Things don’t just happen randomly or get that way for no reason.  If we define reality simply as “the way things really are”, we can conclude everything got that way because of all of the things that have happened up to this point to cause it to be that way.

Another variation of the law of cause and effect is the law of sowing and reaping.  While the law of cause and effect deals with all of reality, the law of sowing and reaping hones in on our intentions, and how our decisions effect future outcomes.


The law of sowing and reaping says that when we do something or don’t do something there is a consequence that follows.  If you decide to purchase a new I-Phone 15 on a credit card to pay later, YOU REALLY HAVE TO PAY LATER.  If you don’t you may face financial or legal penalties that make that purchase much more costly than the original purchase.  

The law of sowing and reaping effects every decision we make and is unbiased.  It doesn’t care about our intentions, our track record or what other people think.  It is an unmovable force that either works for us or against us, depending on if we adhere to the law of cause and affect, or call its bluff.

Wisdom of vision

The wisest people in the world seem to have something in common.  They see the future and the present at the same time.  It’s like they have a portal into the future and can see how their current decisions will affect their future circumstances. They somehow have been able to harness a clear image of what delayed gratification will bring them.  l know it’s not entirely accurate or true with all wise people.  You can’t deny that when you hear a story of someone who has reached extraordinary levels of success, it’s evident  how their early decisions directly determined their growth that led to their inevitable success.  They may not have always known what they would reap from their hard work and careful choices, but they knew they were working toward something big. They also put guardrails in place to keep them safe until they get there.

“Success is a planned outcome, not an accident. Success and mediocrity are both absolutely predictable because they follow the natural and immutable law of sowing and reaping. Simply stated, if you want to reap more rewards, you must sow more service, contribution, and value. That is the no-nonsense formula. Some of God’s blessings have prerequisites! Success in life is not based on need but on seed. So you’ve got to become good at either planting in the springtime or begging in the fall.”

― Tommy Newberry, Success Is Not an Accident

“We never plan to mess up our l ives, but unfortunately, we never plan not to. When making decisions, we should always ask ourselves, In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?” ― Andy Stanley –The Best Question Ever

I believe that an honest glimpse into the future would be worth more than gold.  I wonder how different we would make decisions if we could look ahead and see the outcome of our decisions at the same time we make them.  That will never be entirely possible, however, the law of cause and effect should point us in the right direction and help us realize the future is much more predictable than we think, if we just look ahead so we can get rid of the “but”.

6 thoughts on “… Then Don’t Do That

  1. Pretty logical and simplistic but we all struggle to follow through. It’s interesting how simple the solutions are sometimes. But we over-complicate things. This is definitely a good reminder to go back to the basics and practice self-discipline.


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