Sowing and Reaping for a Spiritual Harvest
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
- Summary: Planting seeds is a prerequisite to reaping a spiritual harvest. Plant two kinds of biblical seed — (1) Christian people and (2) God’s word — and you will reap what you sow, that is, an abundant harvest of word-based new believers.
Proverbs 11:24, KJV There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
- •• A seeming paradox, but dynamically true spiritually. The more seed you scatter, the more you throw outward from the seed-bag, the greater the harvest.
•• I have always enjoyed planting lawns. Whenever my family and I have moved to a new home, one of the first things we’ve done is to upgrade the lawn, or plant one if there was not one already.
- • Take this hint from a veteran lawn planter — Double the amount of seed recommended in the planting instructions. If you sow grass seed sparsely, you will end up with a sparse lawn that takes quite a bit of time to fill in the resultant blank spots. But if you plant seeds at double the recommended rate, your lawn will come in thick and full from the outset.
• Why is that? It’s because of the biblical principle that says you will reap what you sow:
- • “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7, KJV). The NIV says, "A man reaps what he sows." The content of the seed sown determines the nature of the final crop. This principle always works.
• “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Matthew 13:37-38 ...“The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom....”
- •• One major fulfillment of spiritual seed planting is Jesus sowing His people into this world.
- • They are “sons of the kingdom.”
• They are “good seed.”
• They are being sown into the world-field as Jesus determines their destination.
- •• I was an on-staff minister for many years at Abbott Loop Christian Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Our church was deeply involved in scattering people as the Lord’s “good seed”. Over the years our church sent out 1,200 men, women, and children on more than 60 church-planting teams. Over the ensuing years, those original 1,200 “scattered seeds” had multiplied to over 10,000 believers in the churches that were planted.
- • How were those results achieved? By following biblical seed-planting principles:
• “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth” (Proverbs 11:24, KJV). When seed is scattered, when it is planted, it brings increase.
• “The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:38). Jesus plants His people throughout the world as a “light-and-salt” presence and witness.
Luke 8:11 ...The seed is the word of God.
- •• We have already seen that Jesus scatters His followers as seeds into a world of lost, dying souls. It is those scattered people-seeds who sow the word-seed.
•• Acts 8:4 Those who had been scattered [by the persecution] preached the word wherever they went.
•• In the parable of the Sower (Luke 11:5-15), the seed of God’s Word was scattered widely, into all kinds of ground. Some (not all) of it grew into a fruitful harvest.
- • What then should we be doing? The answer is: Share, share, share! As God’s good seed ourselves, let us be continually sowing the seeds of God’s word in the ears and hearts of all who will listen.
Genesis 1:11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.”
- •• This is a principle, a law of God — that is, reproduction after our own kind.
- • Apples contain seeds that produce more apples.
• Fish reproduce their specific kind of fish.
• Sheep reproduce sheep.
- •• As Christian “seed”, you are capable of begetting more Christians — that is, “after your kind”.
•• As we share, preach, and teach the word, we are capable of begetting more word-based believers — again, “after our kind”.
Psalm 126:6 He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
- •• The word-sowing process can be very sorrowful.
- • People can resist and reject the Word you sow.
• But some will receive it, and therein is your rejoicing!
- •• The sowing of people can also be very sorrowful.
- • Many from Ephesus wept when the apostle Paul moved on to further ministry elsewhere (Acts 20:37-38).
• In the sending of more than 60 church-planting teams from our church in Anchorage, we were often deeply saddened to witness the departing of close, dear friends. But they were to be the “good seed” who would plant the seed of God’s word and lead many others into a strong relationship with Jesus Christ wherever their seed was planted.
Mark 4:26-27 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”
- •• Scattering seed (the good seed of people and of God’s Word) is a necessary part of the kingdom of God.
•• It brings forth fruit, even if we “don’t know how!”
•• Some of us are called primarily to plant, others primarily to water, but in either case it will be God who faithfully gives the increase.
Matthew 13:31-32 “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants...”
- •• The vision may start small — just a handful of seed to plant. Good people are equipped in the churches to go forth into their communities as good seed. Other dedicated people are sent forth to plant churches or to the mission field. All of these in turn will sow the word-seed wherever God plants them. And even though, like the farmer noted earlier, we don’t fully comprehend how it all works, God will faithfully bring forth the increase!
•• In conclusion, then: God’s charge to us is simply to plant seeds — the seeds of people and of God’s word — and you will in due time reap what you have sown.
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