There is a law of life that is probably one of the most basic ever to be experienced. It’s something so common to what it means to be alive and to what it takes for other things to be alive, that we can’t even see it at times–or at least we don’t often think about it, though it is everywhere around us. We know it most readily and it would likely come to mind first within the realm of gardening. If you want something to grow, you can’t just sit on your hands and muster up enough wishful thinking to make vegetation sprout from the ground. No, you have to do something. And that something can’t be just anything, it has to be something quite in particular. Growing plants, flowers or crops require a starting point out of which they can be born. Without it, there is no possibility of producing anything at all. At this stage of the discussion, you have probably guessed what that starting point is. It is a seed.
It is plain to everyone, who is of an age to understand the way things grow and are produced, that all plant life begins with a seed. In a small seed lies all the mystery of God’s creative wonder. Though, botantists have learned the mechanisms at work within these tiny growth engines, what fuels that growth is still quite mind boggling to say the least. But we don’t have to know about all the minute functions of a seed to know the basic law at work that causes a seed to grow into plant life. It requires letting go of the seed and placing the seed in the ground for it to begin its magical work of life. The age old adage related to planting seeds and harvesting its fruit is the timeless saying that goes like this: “you reap what you sow.” It could not be a simpler law of life. That the seeds you plant will bear fruit according to the type of seed that it is.
Here is an extremely obvious, almost patronizingly elementary point about reaping and sowing. Here it is, if you do not sow, you will not reap. If we keep our seeds hidden away in their little pouches and never let them meet the soil, then they will never be any more than tiny bits of, well, nothing. Unsown seeds are simply little nothings. They are good for little else than possibly being dried and eaten as a salty snack, which pales infinitely in light of their inner divine complexity to be life bearers. A seed unsown is squandered potency. In the grand scheme of life, talking about a lost or unused seed as “squandered potency” may seem a bit overly dramatic, however, when this law of sowing and reaping is applied to human life it takes on a new level of significance and seriousness.
In at least two instances, the Bible speaks of this law related to human life. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians found in ancient Corinth, he writes,
“Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly of under compulsion.”
He is making a statement that is as profound as it is simple. That we all possess a supernatural potency that is engineered to produce growth. And it is possible to squander that potency through inaction or simply an unwillingness to release the seed into the soil to do the work of fruitbearing. Let me say this next statement very directly, a life unsown is a fruitless life. Fruitlessness is one of the greatest curses of the fall and one of the greatest human tragedies. You may remember Jesus’ scathing judgment against the fig tree when he spoke of the uselessness of a fruitless fig tree. There is no reason to allow it take up soil that could be used by fruit-bearing trees.
For many fruitlessness, is not necessarily a sign of defiance against God, as it is a sign of confusion about our purpose in life. God designed us for the good life, but too often we find ourselves mixed up about what that really is. A life that flourishes is one that is sown into the soil of life with God in order to bear the fruit of love of God and the love of neighbor. A way to think about this confusion may be to imagine a man who prided himself as a successful farmer. He was pleased with his ability, more than any of the other farmers in his county, to gather the largest collection of seeds around. He had apple seeds, pumpkin seeds, tomato and potato seeds, and many many more. And everyday he would count his seeds, organize his seeds and consider ways to obtain more seeds. He felt like he was a truly blessed farmer. Only one obvious problem, he was not a farmer–because he did no farming and bore no produce. Though he had the greatest capacity for fruitfulness, all of his seeds would not even compare to the fruitfulness of three year old child who managed to raise a single plant that produced one bright red tomato. It is clear that the purpose of seeds are to be planted and to bear fruit, not simply to be collected.
Back to real life, too many people, in fact I would venture to say most people, are unaware that their one purpose on planet earth is to surrender oneself wholly and completely to God and to offer mature fruit to other people.
Another reason why someone would live an unsown life is that they have never been convinced that they have potency or that they have something that has the capacity to bring about life. Maybe because of comparison with others around them, they see themselves as less valuable or less powerful than someone with more money, position or influence. The Bible reminds us that we are not required to sow what someone else has or give as much as the other guy, but to give and invest what we have. We are responsible for the sowing. The fruit bearing is God’s job.
We have been given money, time, gifts and talents to sow and produce a harvest of fruitfulness. It is very simple you do not sow, you will not reap. A life unsown is a life of squandered potency, but a life strategically invested in God’s purposes is one that will reap great blessing and reward.
How are you living out the simplest law of life? Are you unleashing your God given potency or are your seeds safely stored in their little packet. Imagine what our community–our world–would be like if we all sowed our time, talents and treasure to reap a storehouse of fruitfulness?