Laws of the Harvest

Earlier this year we received a packet of sunflower seeds from my son’s kindy. Together we dug over the ground and made some small holes, then Daniel and his cousin Felicity took turns to drop a seed into each hole. The wonderful thing about sunflowers is how fast they grow. After about a week of watering we were able to point out the little bright green leaves sprouting. Then Daniel was able to compare and talk about which plant was growing the fastest. Soon they were so big they needed staking so they didn’t fall over. Soon they were bigger than Daniel. Soon they were bigger than me! Then finally the buds appeared, and out grew the massive, happy sunflowers! After some time the plants wilted and flowers died and it was time to harvest the seeds inside. Once again I summoned the help of Daniel and his friend and together they shook out and collected the seeds in sand-buckets. I will never forget the wonder on Daniel’s face as he realised that all the hundreds of seeds in each flower came from just one seed that was planted, watered and grew.The natural laws of the harvest of the harvest teem with practical applications. 1. Matthew 13 tells how the ground must be prepared for seeds to take root. The farmer scattered seed on the wayside where it was eaten by the birds, on the stony places where they could not take root, and in the thorns where it was chocked. Only when the seed was scattered in fertile ground did it take grow and yield a crop. Our words, investments, giving and witness will multiply or die depending on the readiness of the ground. You can't just sow your money anyhow or anywhere and expect it to grow. Wise stewards should sow seed into soil prepared by prayer and warmed and watered by the Holy Spirit. Hearts that are hard will not accept it, the shallow will not keep to it, and the thorny will be overpowered. The best ground has been turned over, dug deep, and freed from thorns. If you neglect to first clear the ground you may have a battle ahead with the weeds mingling with the good seed. Care must be taken so that the good seed isn’t uprooted with the weeds later (Mtt 13 vv 24-30). All hard work brings a profit (Prov 14 v 24) and the more you prepare the greater the harvest will be. We need to sow, give, speak, act and invest with care. Further teaching.

2. A second principle is that you reap what you sow (Gal 6:7-8). We planted sunflower seeds and grew a sunflower plant. Actually Daniel explained to Grandma that the seed packet picture we left staked at the site said "Sunflowers, grow here!". God created everything to reproduce after it's kind (Gen 1 verses 11, 12, 24 etc.). If you sow money into good investments you would expect to reap a multiple of money. It is not enough to sow only in the Spirit while being negligent or untrustworthy with our finances. If you sow time teaching, praying for and demonstrating good financial skills to your children you would expect them to reap good financial skills. If you spend time teaching, demonstrating and praying for good spiritual habits - prayer, Bible reading etc. you would expect your children will reap these spiritual habits but should not expect it too lead to good rugby skills unless you also sow into this area! All our words and actions affect others. We must watch what we are sowing into people’s lives. Will it bring forth good fruit or bad?

3. You don’t reap when you sow. Just because you don’t see an immediate improvement doesn’t mean that there is nothing happening there. We plant our seeds in faith believing that they will grow at the proper time. Fragile seedlings may need long-term protection before they are strong enough to survive on their own. New believers need support and direction from God's community. We need patience and perseverance to continue tending the growing plants until the harvest is finally ready. Let us not become weary doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal 6:9. See also 1 Thes 1:3.

There are times and seasons in God’s spirit that we need to be aware of (Ecc 3:1). How good is a timely word! (Prov 15:23). We need to watch for signs that the kingdom of God is near (Lk 21:34). To receive a bountiful crop we must reap when the fields are white and ready for harvest (Pr 10:5, Mtt 9:37).

4. We need to trust God to grow our seed (Prov 3:5). While waiting for the sunflower it is largely out of our control how it is formed. In secret God transforms the dead-looking, stone-like seed into a plant with a stem, leaves and flowers each containing more seeds. See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. yet not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? (Mtt 6:28-30)

We can prepare the ground with prayer and sow the right seed but ultimately we must give up control and trust God to bring about the right outcome. We must not try to attain our goal by human effort (Gal 3:3). It is not through our might or by our power but by God's spirit (Zech 4:6). We must give control and glory to God.

5. Another principle of sowing and reaping is that you reap a proportion of what you sow. If you hold back and sow only a little of what God gives you, you minimise what God can achieve and will reap just a little. Matthew 25 versus 14-30 records how one servant invested 5 talents and made 5 more, one invested 2 talents and made 2 more. The master was angry with the servant that did not invest the 1 talent he was given. God wants us to employ everything He has given us to produce the greatest results. We sowed the whole packet of seeds and had sunflowers popping up all over the section. He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully 2 Cor 6:9. We need to be generous with our sowing.

6. The best principle of sowing & reaping is that you reap a multiple of what you sow. God commanded everything he created to multiply (Gen 1:11). Hosea 8 v 7 describes "They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind". In just one generation each successful sunflower seed grew a flower that contained over 100 seeds and some plants grew more than one flower! See The Principle of Multiplication

7. The worth of the plant is judged by the fruit. Some plants grew faster and some grew higher but in the end we judged our favourite sunflower plants by their wonderful flower—which was full of seeds. God expects the same of us. The Parable of the Talents in Matt 25:14-30 reveals God expects us to return his investment to him at a profit—with interest! He has made an investment in us and wants it to multiply.

8. A seed must die to itself & be buried before it can multiply. Remind you of anything? "Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed… The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life … when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” John 12:22-32.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Rom 6:4).

9. The final law of the harvest demands that we keep sowing for the next season, else there will be no future harvest.

Jesus tells of the rich man who received such a good crop that he couldn’t contain it. He decided to build bigger barns for his extra possessions and spend his days in extravagance. God called him a fool. His plan of selfish hoarding & revelry showed no concern for giving and sowing for eternity. He lost his life that night and lost the opportunity to share his blessing with others. This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God (Lk 12:21).

God gives seed to the “sowers” (2 Cor 9:10) - not hoarders. Like seed, hoarded blessings turn sour if they aren’t used. The Dead Sea is dead because it has no outflow. Like Abraham we are blessed to be a blessing (Gen 12:2). God wants us to be generous on all occasions (2 Cor 9:11) and promises the generous man will prosper (Pr 11:24-26). It is part of God's plan that we assist others, starting with our family (Pr 13:33, 18:14, 1 Tim 5 v 4,8), and the community of faith (Gal 6:10, 1 Jn 3:17).

We collected more sunflower seeds than we have room for in our garden! So we’ve given most of it away and the next step in our saga is to plant the remaining seed at the right time before it loses quality. God wants us to continually sow for the seasons ahead — then we shall reap a bountiful harvest!Kerryanne Dalgleish

May 2004

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

2 Cor 9:6-11