Being the gardener that I am, the Bible verses that mention growing things always catch my attention. Sowing and reaping in the Bible are particularly interesting because they can be used in so many illustrations.
Get comfortable, grab your favorite drink, and let’s study God’s law, and Jesus’ words, and focus on the good harvest of our hearts.
As we study the law of sowing, may the right seeds fall on the fertile soil of our soul, as we live our lives fulfilling the law of Christ and dwelling in His steadfast love.
Sowing and Reaping in the Bible
I began researching sowing and reaping in scripture because I was studying Hosea. Hosea is not a happy book, it is full of God trying to get Israel to leave their idolatry and turn back to Him.
It is heartbreaking, but sadly, I am no different. Far too often I put things before God making them an idol.
I want this post to be informative as far as what the Bible says about sowing and reaping, but I want to look deeper than the obvious planting and harvesting. This is about our hearts and our relationships with God.
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
You have plowed wickedness;
You have reaped iniquity.
You have eaten the fruit of lies,
Because you trusted in your own way,
In the multitude of your mighty men.
Therefore tumult shall arise among your people,
And all your fortresses shall be plundered. (Hosea 10:12-14)
Before we plunge into a deeper study of these verses, let’s look at other Bible verses about reaping and sowing.
Sometimes their meanings are easy to understand some take a little research.
“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”
I have often thought about what a kind, merciful, and generous God we serve that He commanded people to leave a portion of their crops to help the poor. Isn’t that just like him? It forces me to think back to my garden this summer and check to see that I shared my own harvest. How often do we need a reminder to share?
We see this law in action in the story of Ruth.
Naomi, her husband, and their two sons travel to Moab. The boys marry and perhaps life is good, but not for long. Both of Naomi’s sons die as well as her husband. Bitter, alone, and full of grief, Naomi decides to travel back home to her extended family.
The one bright spot in Naomi’s otherwise sad story is her daughter-in-law, Ruth. This young woman loves Naomi more than her own people and insists on staying with her.
Once settled back in Naomi’s hometown, the elderly woman sends Ruth out to glean the fields of Boaz. This turns out to be a very good idea as Boaz takes a liking to Ruth.
Long and beautiful story short, Ruth and Boaz marry and give birth to Jesse, the father of David. All because Ruth gleaned in the fields of Boaz.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7)
Paul is talking about giving in this verse. I think it can apply to many aspects of life. The more time you invest in a relationship, the healthier it will be. The more effort you put into a project, the more successful it will be. Sowing and reaping is a concept we see over and over.
Let’s talk about giving for a minute though. I was trying to explain to my six year old what “God loves a cheerful giver” means. I think as adults our minds go immediately to money, but we can be giving with our time, resources, gardens, talents, and the list goes on.
Are you using your talents to help others? You are sowing good seeds. Are you putting yourself aside to help a friend? You are sowing godly seeds.
While these verses are not directly stating sowing and reaping, the agricultural principles of the day are spiritually applicable.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
You are already clean [pruned, in Greek clean and pruned are the same word] because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. (John 15:1-8)
Christ is our life’s blood, we are no good without him.
In some ways these verses feel a little harsh, but any good gardener knows that pruning is essential for healthy plants. Anything that is not producing fruit in your life needs to be pruned away.
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:7-9)
If you are seeking God, praying, reading His word and trying to live by it, you will experience a much different life than if you were insisting on your own way and ignoring God.
Does the Bible promise that life will be perfect for us if we are focusing on God? Absolutely not. Scripture tells us we will suffer just like everyone else. See “What Does the Bible Say About Suffering and Why We Should Rejoice in It?
What Paul is telling us is that when we sow in the spirit, we are rewarded in the spirit. Ultimately, salvation and eternal life in heaven after our physical death. However, there are great spiritual comforts here on earth.
Peace, joy, and love that rule our hearts in all situations are much greater than the pain and suffering of this world. There is no greater reward here on earth than having a relationship with our Lord and Savior. We are never alone nor do we need to rely on our strengths.
Parable of the Sower
No collection of Bible verses about sowing and reaping would be complete without this parable. Like Hosea, this parable explains that our hearts are like soil.
Jesus explains how many of us hear the gospel and respond with joy, but our hearts are hard or unwilling to change their earthly ways and that tiny growth of faith withers away.
May your hearts be the good ground that are yielding a hundredfold.
“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:3-9)
Sowing and Reaping in Hosea
Let’s go back to the verses that started my study and explore how God is talking to us today.
This chapter isn’t exactly happy. Israel, Judah, and the surrounding nations have not served God and are suffering because of it.
“I found Israel Like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers As the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, And separated themselves to that shame; They became an abomination like the thing they loved. (Hosea 9:10)
God goes on to say that they are idolatrous and that He will destroy their altars. Isn’t it something though that they start out as a luxuriant vine? I want to be a luxuriant vine! Images of morning glories and clematis fill my head. Thick leaves with beautiful flowers. Grape vines heavy with fruit is my next thought. Yes, I do want to be a luxuriant vine!
The verse that has been swirling around my head this week is verse 12.
“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”
Sow, reap, break up, rain. These are all gardening terms. I sow my seeds, reap my harvest, till my ground, and pray for rain. My summer is right here in this verse. BUT what about the rest? righteousness? mercy? seek the LORD? Have I also diligently thought about these necessities?
What Does the Bible Mean by Sowing and Reaping?
Sowing and reaping are directly related.
To sow would mean to plant. How does one plant righteousness? For me, as a mom, I feel as if I’m planting righteousness by setting a good example for my kids. When I seek God’s direction in my everyday life and follow the instructions in His word, I am planting righteousness. Unfortunately, I fall short of this daily.
How do I sow righteousness in my heart? I think that is something that comes by reading God’s word and then applying it to our lives. Do you ever read a verse that you’ve read a dozen times before and suddenly it speaks to you? As people, we are constantly growing and changing. The word of God is alive and ready to teach us if we allow God to sow it in our hearts.
Reap in Mercy
One definition of mercy is “compassionate treatment of those in distress”. This conjures up the homeless person on the street corner or an abused child. Of course, we should help them too, but what about the everyday people in distress?
The sibling whose car broke down, the friend who is dealing with depression, or the grandmother living in a nursing home? How often do we overlook our neighbors? Do you even know your neighbors?
How often do I have the opportunity to show mercy to those close to me and miss it because I’m consumed with my own life, thoughts, and feelings?
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Break up your Fallow Ground
I will be honest, I had to look up the definition of fallow. It means “cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season”. This brought on an “aha!” moment! Just like the flashlight in “How God’s Light Overcomes Darkness and Fear”
How often has my heart been fallow? Sitting idle, resting, not producing. God says to break it up! Plant it so that it bears fruit! Sometimes we need those seasons of rest, especially after a particularly troublesome time. Don’t stay there! Grow!
Growing is something that has been on my heart since I lost Rebekah. I don’t want this horrible time in my life to be a waste. I don’t want her to have died in vain. My prayer has been just that. Let her death bring about something for your glory.
For it is time to seek the LORD (with all your heart)
It is time to put away our idleness, selfishness, and idolatry (whatever that is in your life) and seek our Creator. Look to Him for guidance, peace, joy, and love. It’s there, we just need to seek it.
Seek is an important word here. We all expect blessings to flow, don’t we? There are various teachings on this. Some say to proclaim your blessing. Others say to faithfully wait. Hosea says to seek the LORD that He rains righteousness upon you.
“But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 4:29)
What is Righteousness, Good Works, and God’s Blessings
By definition righteousness is “acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin”. We know that we cannot be free from guilt or sin- that’s what salvation is for. So then how will He rain righteousness upon us?
Obedience to HIs word and submission to His will are the two things that come to mind. Remember that God is talking here to people that have fallen into idolatry. It is time to put those idols away, to destroy their altars, and to seek the true God. When we seek Him, we will see Him in His righteousness and want to be like Him.
Good deeds of their own accord do not make you right with God. Remember, breaking up your fallow ground and seeking the Lord with all your heart come first. The process of sowing in our parable of the sower shows that Jesus Christ is inviting you to eternal life. He is spreading the good seed, the gospel because the Kingdom of God is at hand. Is your heart the good soil? Has it been broken up and ready for the wheat seed?
Sowing and Reaping in the Bible
What about you? Which part of this verse speaks to you? Sowing and reaping in the Bible is a wonderful concept to explore. Do you have a sowing and reaping scripture that you apply to your life?
God speaks to me so much through gardening. Isn’t it amazing how He meets us where we are? If you are a gardener, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below (or even if you aren’t a gardener!).
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