Principle Of The Seedtime and Harvest



Galatians 6:7-8


7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.


Our text is one of the most remarkable principles of the Bible, “The Principle Of The Seedtime And Harvest”.  We frequently quote Paul's statement, "Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap". Perhaps the reason that Paul is so often quoted, is because he said it in such a way that it is easily remembered.  The great  poet  Robert Burns once said: "Though all the truth is oft expressed, ‘Tis his at last, who says it best." 


If we could be privileged to compare between the words of inspired men, then we would suggest, that Paul said this best.  But Paul was not the first to recognize this principle . Jesus  recognized this principle in certain of His parables. In the “Parable of  Wheat And Tares”,  Matthew 13:24-30, you will recall a man sowed good seed in his field, but  while he slept, others came in  and sowed tares among the wheat (Matt.13:25). And when his servants saw that there were  two different kinds of plants, growing in the field, they reported it to the house holder.  And he said an enemy hath done this (verse28).  Just as surely as there were two different kinds of plants growing, two different kinds of seed had been sown. Thus in this parable, the principle of the seedtime and the harvest is recognized. 


Notwithstanding our Lord Jesus Christ spoke as never man spoke, revealing many truths previously unknown to mankind, He was not the first to announce this principle.  The prophet Hosea states  in chapter 8:7  of his writings, "They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind". This Old Testament prophet recognized “The Principle Of The Seedtime and Harvest” .


But again,  was not the 1st to do so!  Moses recognizes this principle in the law of retribution  written in  Exodus 21:22-25

 22If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. Thus the principle is recognized in the Law of retribution.


But again,  this is not the earliest announcement of the principle.  Before there was ever a person to hear it. or a plant to grow in keeping with it, God Almighty stated this principle in Genesis 1:11  when  He said: "Let the earth bring forth grass, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their own kinds, and it was so."   Thus we have the oldest principle in the Bible applicable to the conduct of men.   Galatians 6:7,  whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” .


Our lesson therefore is not a new or novel principle , but an old one. I should like to say not only is it an old principle, but it is a universal principle as well. This principle is applicable in the vegetable world. Our whole system of horticulture and system of agriculture are based upon the principle of the seedtime and harvest. We plant certain seeds  expecting  that particular plant will spring up and grow. We never plant a tomato seed, expecting to see a green bean as a result of it.  It's true in the vegetable world, but it true also in the intellectual world.  If a man wants to be a lawyer, he would study, law. If he wants to be a doctor, he studies medicine, If a man wants to be a teacher, he studies the principles of learning, those things that would prepare him to accomplish that task.   And this principle is  true in the moral and spiritual world,   8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting


But this principle is universal in yet another sense. It applies to nations, as well as to individuals. In Psalms 137 an exile down in Babylon, is describing the plight of the captives. They were sitting in silence by the waters of Babylon as their harps hanged silently upon the willows. Among other things this exile   states¾  O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. 9Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones”.  Psalms 137:8-9


Anyone acquainted with ancient history  knows of the doom that ultimately befell ancient Babylon. How it became the dwelling place of the wild animals and doleful creatures. That nation reaped exactly as the prophet had indicated, and as she sowed in her dealings with other nations.   Almost 20 centuries ago the Jewish people rejected Christ, the Son of God as Messiah. As He was crucified they said, “His blood be upon us”.   How awfully have those words been fulfilled. 



Well  this principle is true with respect to nations;  But it is true with respect to individuals as well.  And not only must the poor reap as they've sown, but the rich also will reap as they have sown. Not even the king upon his throne is exempt from the law of this principle. You remember how Ahab and Jezebel conspired to get the vineyard of Naboth. Never was man assassinated in colder blood than was Naboth.  You recall that the prophet of God, Elijah came on the scene, he said,  19Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.


The story reveals that Ahab was wounded in battle at Ramoth-gilead,  and the Bible says  1 Kings 22:37-38  So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria.  38And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armor; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake”.    Not the lowliest state of Naboth, nor the high position of the king, could render this principle  ineffectual.  “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”.


I suggest further for our consideration,  “There is only one time for  sowing, but  there are two harvest times”.  A man may  sow only during his life time here.  But we   reap here in this life time and we shall reap in the life hereafter.


You remember Jesus said concerning those of Sodom, and those of Capernaum.   And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee   (Matt. 11:23-24). 


Did not the people of Sodom reap for the  sins committed during their lifetime? Yes!   Notice the account recorded  in Genesis 19:24-25:   Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.”   But they did not complete their reaping at that time,  there remains for them a reaping in the hereafter.  Oh! It shall be more tolerable, said the Master,  for them in the judgment than those who had literally rejected the Christ.  But still, there remains a harvest time,   a time of reaping for them throughout eternity,  and we shall reap for our sowing bad seed in eternity also  if we fail to have our sins remitted now.


But another thing, Ordinarily, a man sows in view of the harvest.  A man would not sow primarily for the pleasure of sowing. He sows for the happiness of the harvest time. Now those who sow their "proverbial wild oats" are an exception,  they  sow because of the pleasures of the sowing time.  He recognizes there are pleasures in sin (Hebrews 11:25). This person consider the reaping of  harvest,  if he did then these would certainly change the seeds of pleasure being sown.


On the other hand, great men of faith in the Scriptures, who have made tremendous sacrifices for truth and right, having suffered for righteousness, these men  have planned their lives upon the basis of the harvest time.


We read of the tremendous sacrifices of Moses, who gave up the riches of the kings of Egypt, to suffer with the people of Israel, and we wonder why  he would do this?  How could endure such criticism and murmuring  in the  wilderness?   And the Hebrew  writer tells us how he did it, and why he was able to endure.  He said: “he looked unto the recompense of the reward. He forsook Egypt, not fearing the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible."   Hebrews 11:26-27. Yes Moses forsook Egypt and all it had to offer. Why? He looked unto the harvest time, he looked unto the recompense of reward.


And I often try to imagine how Moses must have felt when he heard the children of Israel singing their song of deliverance on the wilderness side of Jordan. His heart must have thrilled as he realized that these people were free, and that under God he had played an important part in their deliverance. But you see... there's another harvest for Moses in the hereafter, when he hears the redeemed sing the "Song of Moses and the Lamb".  Moses looked unto the recompense of reward. Moses’ life had been  lived in view of  the great harvest time in the hereafter.


 And this helps us to understand the life of Paul, and the dedication he had unto God. A man described as more abundant in labors and strips than they all. Yonder in that wonderful 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians,  Paul said,  "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."  (verse 19)   He said, "if there is no hereafter, no eternal harvest, then we have lost."  Paul's whole life had been predicated on the assumption there is a great harvest hereafter, he recognized that there was no adequate compensation for his labors, sufferings and sacrifices in this life.  He looked unto the recompense of reward.  


But whether a man hopes to reap what he sows or not, he will do just that. And ordinarily a man reaps more than he sows.  He expects to do so, if the farmer didn't expect to reap more than he sows, why sow? Why the extra toil?  Why run the risk of loosing his  seed, if there would be no increase? So normally there is an increase.  Jesus in describing the harvest in the parable of the sower said: "some thirty, some sixty and some a hundred fold."   If for all the good we do, we would reap 100 fold, wouldn’t  it be wonderful?  On the other hand, for the evil we've done, if we reaped a hundred fold, would it not be terrible? 


Yes ordinarily a man reaps more than he sows.  And normally it takes longer to reap than it does to sow.  The Children of Israel were 40 days Spying out the promised land. The twelve  spies were sent out, two had brought back and good and true report, but ten false reports. The people were inclined to believe the report of the ten and murmured.  Because of this sin, they were turned back to wander for  forty years. Beloved it took them 365 times as long to reap as it did to sow. 


And a  man can commit a crime in just a few short moments of anger, that could cause him to be locked up  for the rest of his natural life. A man in a short lifetime can so live in disobedience to God, as to consign his soul to an eternity in hell.  Yes that's the reaping time. A man reaps more than he sows, and it takes longer to reap than it does to sow.


And again: in this present world, not the next,  so often the innocent must reap along with the guilty. We spoke of the wilderness wanderings where the Israelite nation, because of their unbelief, and  disobedience to God,  wandered forty years.  There were small and innocent children, who were not guilty of any wrong doings, to young to understand , yet they had to reap right along with the offenders. They were not guilty of murmuring, nor of disobedience, but yet they had to wander 40 years and suffered all the hardships as did those who were guilty.


Several  years ago I had the  opportunity  of visiting the state prison facilities. I saw there a heart rending thing one that has never escaped my memory. A young mother with three small children visiting a husband and father, who had been locked up. He was standing behind the prison bars, she and the children on the other side, she and the man were  crying. The little children were wondering, to little to understand. She was suffering but she was innocent of any wrong doings. Reaping right along with the guilty. Those little children may never see the day that some evil person will not point them out as being the son or daughter of a man who was in prison.


I read the  story  minister told, of being asked by a  woman to go with her to the governor's office to plead for her son’s very life..  Her son had fallen into bad company and had robbed a store and  man had been killed.  He spoke watching this woman as she poured out her heart at the governor's knee trying desperately  to save her son from the electric chair.   She was suffering,  but she wasn't guilty.  Yes, in  this world the innocent often suffer with the guilty.


And finally —  When a man does wrong, and is forgiven,  in this world, not in the next, he must reap that which he has sown.  That's tragic isn't it. Paul said:  Gal. 6:7

7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap  There is no way of escaping this harvest, It is inevitable, it is inescapable. If a man sows the wrong kind of seed, and is pardoned, still he must reap what he has sown.


Here is a man who has a servant. He commands him to go into the vineyard, sow some wheat. He goes out and sows corn. He calls him into account, the servant penitently confesses, pleads for pardon and is pardoned. But, that pardon doesn't change that harvest of corn into wheat. It cannot and does not do that. 


And when a man is pardoned, he still has to reap what has been sown, in this life but not in the next. David committed grievous sins, murder, adultery.   In 2 Samuel chapter 12, the prophet Nathan approaches David with the following story:


1Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2“The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. 3“But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him. 4“And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! 6“And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”


7Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8‘I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! 9‘Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Amnon. 10‘Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’


After reproving David, Nathan said,  God has forgiven you that you shall not die, but the sword shall never depart from your house. Just as David had said the man who was guilty would restore four fold, it turned out that way for Him.  It wasn't  long until the infant child of David and Bathsheba, died, and he knew the child was dead because of his own sins.  Shortly thereafter his daughter Tamar was sexually assaulted by her half brother Amnon. Then Absalom,  her full brother, slew Amnon for ravishing his sister.  Next, Absalom fleeing in the wilderness of Ephraim, his head is caught in the bow of a tree and there he is thrust though by Joab. There's nothing more pathetic than David's lamentation for Absalom. And finally Adonijah  is slain. Four of David's sons. God forgave him, but still in this world, not in the next he had to reap as he had sown.


I think this is one of the most serious  principles  with which we have to deal. I don't believe any other principle in the Bible should be more seriously considered in the ordering and planning of our daily lives than this. It's inescapable.


There may be those who will read this that have never obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ. Beloved, we are going to reap exactly as we have sown. In 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 Paul says, the Lord will come in flaming fire, taking vengeance on all who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Beloved how will you fare on that day? What will it be? You can accept and obey Him, or you can reject Him.  To do nothing in this life is to reject Him. A man is never the same after he has  an opportunity to hear the gospel and obey Christ..  A man is never the same after the opportunity to do good. If he accepts to do good, he's a better person, if he rejects the good he is made worse. A man is never the same after he has the opportunity of accepting Christ. He is either a better, or a worse man. Which will it be?        See our link,    “The plan of Salvation”.  If we can help you in any way, please


Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ


phone:  (678)617-9658