Sowing and Reaping - Part 3
The principle of sowing and reaping hides in plain sight. All one has to do is take a stroll through nature to see it at work in the grass, shrubs, trees, insects, and animals. And of course, humans are no exception, for sowing and reaping is the process by which our own species is propagated. Every newborn child is evidence of a “seed” that has been sown and received and the “reaping” or “harvest” of what is produced; this creative process permeates our very existence.
What is true about this principle in the physical realm is also true in the spiritual, where sowing equates to what we do and reaping equates to what we receive back from it. In every case, what we do begins with “thought” so the “seed” of our actions is, at first, invisible, but leads to a visible manifestation. The Bible addresses this as our “works” or “deeds”; see John 3:20-21 and Romans 2:6.
Beloved, the judgment of God is rendered, not according to what we say, but WHAT WE DO. Jesus made this very clear when He told the “multitude” and His “disciples,” “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what THEY DO. For they PREACH, BUT DO NOT PRACTICE” (Matt. 23:3; ESV).
The most amazing thing about the principle of sowing and reaping is that it is reflected in so many things throughout scripture. In Part 1 of this series, I stated that it defines “resurrection,” the core essence of the Christian faith, for Paul was quite clear in 1st Corinthians 15:13 that “if there is no RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD, then NOT EVEN CHRIST HAS BEEN RAISED.” My friend, the word “resurrection” simply means, “A standing up again,” and, isn’t that what a seed does once it has been sown into the ground and forms the plant or tree which follows? No wonder then that again, in 1st Corinthians 15, Paul wrote, “But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’” His answer? “You foolish person! WHAT YOU SOW DOES NOT COME TO LIFE UNLESS IT DIES” (1st Cor. 15:35-36; ESV). Is Paul not clearly using the principle of sowing and reaping to explain resurrection? He is.
When we truly understand the principle of resurrection and its importance to our faith, then it makes perfect sense that our Creator would establish this principle from the very beginning. And He did. We see it first as the “Garden of Eden,” where God’s pleasure (Eden) was to bring His counsel to us via the means of reaping what we sow (Garden). Within this “garden” were two specific “trees.” One was called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” while the other “the tree of life.” Both were in the “midst” or “middle” of the garden, letting us know that these two “trees” were the focal point of this “garden.” For quite a while now I have seen the “Garden of Eden” and the two “trees” as representative of the divine principle of sowing and reaping and its twofold outcome; two trees, two different results. Consider Paul’s discourse on this principle in Galatians 6:7-10.
Galatians 6:7-10 (ESV)
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption (this is the first outcome which correlates with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (this is the second outcome which correlates with the tree of life). 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Do you see it? Beloved, the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” symbolizes the Law of God that oversees our behavior when we conduct ourselves after the “flesh.” On the other hand, the “tree of life” typifies the spiritual nature of the Law which is LOVE. This is why Paul wrote, “The LAW is SPIRITUAL” (Rom. 7:14). When one walks in the true love of God and the “fruit” of the Spirit, Paul states, “Against such there is NO LAW” (Gal. 5:23; KJV).
Romans 13:10 (ESV)
10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
“Love is the fulfilling of the law” because “love does no wrong to a neighbor.” Our word “neighbor” means, “Close by,” so it incorporates everyone regardless of culture or belief. Our word for “love” is defined by Strong’s as, “Love, i.e. affection or benevolence; specially (plural) a love-feast.” This word is translated as “charity” in the King James, in the great love chapter, 1st Corinthians, Chapter 13, so if you wish to know how God’s love for us is described, simply read this chapter.
In the English Standard Version, we are told in Hebrews 4:12 that God’s Word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,” i.e. it is twofold in its execution, agreeing with our twofold outcome of sowing and reaping. “Living” defines the Law of God when it is first sown into the “ground” of our heart, while “active” defines its spiritual essence springing forth from the earth or “ground” of our hearts as Jesus taught in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:23 and Hebrews stipulates in Hebrews 8:10.