sowing and reaping

A resource on giving as a New Testament believer.

When we plant a seed of wheat, it will grow into a wheat stalk that can produce hundreds of wheat seeds. Plant an acorn, and it will grow into an oak tree that will produce thousands of acorns.

When we plant seeds, the harvest that comes back to you is always greater than what you originally sowed.

This also works for the things we don’t want to see multiplied. People sometimes feel like this law of multiplication is unfair. They make a few bad decisions, and when life falls apart, they think, “Well, I know I haven’t always made the wisest decisions, but I don’t deserve all this.”

You’re exactly right. But what you are experiencing is probably not punishment; it is the harvest of what was sown. And the law of the harvest doesn’t operate according to exact proportions. Seeds don’t stay seeds; they turn into massive trees. What we reap always comes back to us greater than what we sow.

That’s true with sinful habits we sow into our lives. It’s true with corrupt thoughts we fill our minds with. And, startlingly, it’s true with how we raise our kids.

I can’t tell you how many Christian parents are surprised when their kids go off to university and walk away from their faith. Their bewilderment always sounds the same: “But we raised them in church.” OK. But were church and your walk with God really that important to you? You attended sporadically. You didn’t volunteer. You weren’t in a small group. You didn’t do missions or serve with your kids or read the Bible together or pray together. Your kids weren’t involved in the youth ministry. You frequently missed church for sports events or dance or trips to the beach. You raised your kids around God, but He was only a second-tier priority.

Is it any surprise, then, that this nonchalant attitude multiplied in your kids’ lives when they went to university? No wonder they left Jesus behind. They had learned that living a God-pleasing life in the face of such a hostile culture was just not worth the hassle. Your half-commitment wasn’t just replicated in your kids. It multiplied in them.

Now, I want to be clear that this isn’t an ironclad rule. Kids leave the faith for a number of reasons. But I’m concerned that what many parents—Christian parents—are sowing in their kids is a little bit of Jesus and whole lot of materialism.

You can also apply the “law of greater” to money, as the Apostle Paul does (Galatians 6:6-10). When it comes to our finances, Scripture indicates that the harvest is greater in both magnitude and kind. As to magnitude, Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (CSB). In other words, we cannot out-give God.

We see this multiplication illustrated in John 6 when Jesus feeds the 5,000 and still has 12 baskets of leftover food. Why would Jesus do that? Some commentators stumble all over themselves coming up with symbolic meanings for these twelve baskets. But the meaning is pretty obvious: Jesus produced extra simply to show us that what we reap always comes back to us greater than what we sow.

When we sow our finances, it also produces a harvest that is greater in kind. To put it differently, sowing to God’s purposes doesn’t just produce more. It produces better.

In Matthew 6, one of the most important biblical passages about money, Jesus said to be generous with our finances, because “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). I normally think of that in reverse—that where my heart is, that’s where my treasure will be. (True enough.) But Jesus says that giving is a way to change the loves of our heart. One of the ways we can train our hearts to love God and not the world is to give money in a way that transfers our treasure from the world to the kingdom of heaven.

Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza, shared that what drove him to succeed in life was the desire to have more and succeed more than everyone else. But after seeing how prideful his heart had become and how miserable that attitude had made him, he decided to take a new approach. He adopted a very simple lifestyle, set a modest limit on what he’d live on, and committed to give away everything else to the kingdom of God. He says the latter approach has filled him with more joy than all the stuff he used to spend his money on.

Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows“.