95. Can't cram a harvest

I've learned that you can’t “cram" a harvest, and you can't microwave the results of your catalytic actions. I'd love to see the "dominos" fall in real life as quickly as the wooden props I’ve created topple onstage. The reality is, well, they don’t. Most precious things require time to mature. 


Sowing and reaping is a principle implemented on the 3rd day of Creation when God spoke forth the power of seed bearing plants (Genesis 1:11). You know the principle: “like begets like” based on something already inside the first of the “likes.”

Somehow, we've just assumed that “seed” only works in biology. However, “seed” is a principle of creation which works in every area of life.

(Yes, principle has been abused by some church people. But, that doesn't mean that we can't find some sweet nuggets of truth in it. People abuse sex, alcohol, and money regularly. My guess is that you're OK with at least two of those— maybe all three. So, let's extend the same open-mindedness to this concept, too. Just because someone has misused it doesn’t mean it's taboo, that we can’t find a healthy expression of the concept or thing.)

This sowing and reaping relationship is likely what Moses meant when he taught “Whatever you put your hand to prospers” (Deuteronomy 15:10).  If you engage in life-giving behaviors, you're going to reap life. If you engage in other activities... well… you know how that rolls.

4 principles of sowing & reaping explain exactly how the Law of the Harvest works. And, remember, this is a law— as consistent as the Law of Gravity— rooted in the fabric of Creation. It’s how life automatically flows.

Let’s discuss the four principles:

  1. You reap WHAT you sow
  2. You reap WHERE you sow
  3. You reap MORE THAN you sow
  4. You reap AFTER you sow


1. Reap WHAT you sow 

The first principle of reaping and sowing is that you receive back exactly what you place in the ground. Farmers all understand this. Kindergartners do, too.

If you plant corn, you reap corn— not tomatoes. If you plant squash, you don’t harvest bacon. 

It sounds odd, I know, but many people erroneously believe… 

  • … you can sow time and reap money. 

How many times have you heard people at church say something like “I tithe my time instead of my money”?

  • … you can sow money and reap favor with your family. 

How many times have you seen businessmen say “I don’t know why my wife and kids don’t know I love them… I work hard to provide all these nice things…”?

  • … you can sow intentions and reap results. 

How many times have you heard people say, “Well, I really desired ____________ to happen…”? 

You see, in the same way we reap what we sow when we plant it in a field, we also reap what we sow when we “plant” something in life. In order to reap relationship with your family, you must sow relationship. In order to reap results, you must reap actions— thoughts simply reap more thoughts.


Sowing and reaping is a principle of Creation— it works in every area of life. Nurture the seed long enough, and you will reap a harvest of the same thing you sow. 

Notice “sowing and reaping” works in the following three areas— 

#1 = Grace— people who plant grace and extend mercy to others receive a harvest of it!

  • Proverbs 11:25, “…whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
  • James 3:18, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

#2 = Giving— people who give generously are entrusted with more resources!

  • Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
  • Proverbs 11:24, “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”

#3 = Goodness— we're promised that if we continue doing good, we will reap a harvest of goodness in time. This is why Paul encourages the Church to continue dispensing goodness.

  • Galatians 6:9, “Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up.”

Because it’s a principle of Creation, this sowing and reaping relationship works when we “mess up," too. I've learned firsthand that sin issues eventually catch up with us.  You probably have, too.

Moreover, it's not just the sin itself that's the issue; it's the sin we refuse to deal with and move away from.  

  • When we name it, drop it, and move on, grace floods us…
  • When we hold to it or hide it, it creates unbearable tension which we can hardly stand under. 

Hidden sin always takes us further down the road than we want to travel, it extracts a higher price than we want to pay, and it usually boomerangs back with compounded interest. To use language from chapter 2, that’s where the road goes.

Eventually, “what goes around comes around…” 

Here are a few verses highlighting this reality: 

  • Proverbs 22:8, “Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity, and the rod of his fury will fail.”
  • Job 4:8-9, “My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same. A breath from God destroys them. They vanish in a blast of his anger.”
  • Proverbs 1:31, “…they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”

2. Reap WHERE you sow 

Farmers also know that you reap in the same field where you sowed the seed. You don't sow in this field and reap in the garage. Or in the field two streets over. 

  • You sow here = you reap here 
  • You sow there = you reap there

This works in the Kingdom as well. Whenever you sow somewhere, you reap in that location. 

This is one of the greatest arguments for sowing into your local church rather than sowing elsewhere. For a loonnggggggg season (emphasis on the long),  I felt disconnected and disenchanted with our church.  

Let me be clear: I hated going. I only went because my wife liked it, and I felt my kids needed to attend somewhere rather than sleeping in.

Part of my frustration with that church was I’d been burned by churches before. A few times. And I was coming fresh off the biggest misuse of spiritual authority I’d ever experienced.

Part of my frustration was this, though— and I only learned it in hindsight, after getting it “right.” For over seven months I didn’t give a dime to that church. You read that right. I didn’t support them financially at all. Furthermore, I even lied to my wife about it, telling her I was giving.

One day Jesus explained to a crowd that “Where your treasure is, there is your heart” (Matthew 6:21).

Or— “Your heart follows your treasure.”

My heart followed mine for sure. No treasure at the church meant no heart at the church. My heart was elsewhere. 

Here’s what’s interesting. At some point (a long story I promise to tell you another time in some other venue besides this book), I got it right. I began investing my treasure in that church. When I did an amazing thing happened: my passion for the people in that place ignited. 


Because you not only reap WHAT you sow, you also reap WHERE you sow.

This is a great argument for sowing time and energy in your marriage, with your kids, or with any other part of your life you value. 

Remember, Moses told the Children of Israel, “Whatever you put your hand to prospers” (see Deuteronomy 15:10). 

Think about that promise. It’s another statement that’s misused and abused. I've heard dozens of people reference this verse to denote that “worldly” success is automatic for the believer who decrees and declares it. 

However, at the basic level the verse is profoundly, simply true: 

  • If I invest in relationships, they’ll prosper. 
  • If I invest in learning a new skill, it will prosper. 
  • If I invest in complaining, my arguments and bitterness prosper. 
  • If I over-focus on the gap instead of also celebrating the gain, my discontent prospers.

Again, anything you put your hand to prospers. You must insure you put your hand to the things you actually want to prosper, that you push the plow in the direction which aligns with your dreams.

Or, to summarize— “To reap a harvest, sow what you want and sow it where you want it.”


3. Reap MORE than you sow 

The seed is the most important aspect of the entire sowing and reaping process. Seeds exponentially multiply by their very nature. 

Would you rather have a semi truck full of seedless apples (yes, they've created them in a lab!) or just one regular apple?  

Most apples contain 50-60 seeds. The exact number depends on the harvest conditions, as well as the species of the apple. 

However, each individual seed represents an entire tree— a tree which can bear fruit each year (of more apples, all of which have seeds, each also representing an infinite number of trees). That is, each seed carries potential orchards inside it.

In the same way, each seed you plant (be it finances, an act of kindness, prayer, time, etc.) carries exponential output. 

That's how the exponential output of the seed works. 

Why does it work this way? 

There’s no way to explain it other than acknowledging that it’s a principle woven throughout the created order.


4. Reap AFTER you sow

There’s a Chinese Proverb I learned from one of my friends. It goes like this: When is the best time to plant a tree?

The answer: Fifty years ago. 

Alright, so we can’t go back in time. Shoot, if we went back 50 years some of us wouldn’t even be here yet. However, each passing day we don’t sow represents a day of harvest we simply forfeit forever.  

In order to harvest something related to your dream three months from today, you’ve got to plant something NOW…

And, of course, you've got to continue tending the field where you sow. No farmer invests time + effort sowing only to simply to walk away, wait a few months, then return expecting a harvest. 

And no farmer expects to plant today and see a full-blown plant tomorrow. Somehow, we think dreams should be like that, though, that dreams simply manifest overnight. Such thinking represents the “lottery mentality” and not the “recipe mentality.”

A few years ago I made a goal of losing at least 40 pounds. I discussed it in chapters 4, 6, and 8. I began exercising and eating right every single day. No cheat days.

I’d love to tell you that I got immediate results, but I didn’t.

The first day I lost a single pound— mostly water weight from sweating. 

By the end of the first week, I was down about 2.5 pounds. I felt tired, sore, and a bit sluggish. My muscles felt more tone to me, but no one else could see any measurable progress at all. In fact, no one noticed for another five or six weeks— except my wife. 

By the end of month three, though, I reached my goal. People I hadn’t seen in a few years didn’t even recognize me on multiple occasions. 

That’s how sowing and reaping often works. You must commit— and continue persisting— even when you don’t see the results. You must trust the process, leaning on the plan you created to serve you and your dream. 

Paul said to persist. You WILL eventually reap a harvest (Galatians 6:9). 

Amos encouraged people that one day the harvest would come so bountifully that the reapers would overtake the sowers (Amos 9:13). That is, you’ll grow in your skill and supernatural favor kicks in as you continue.

By the way, all farmers know they are NOT in control of the harvest. They can do certain actions that facilitate it (so much so that a harvest is impossible without their activity), but the harvest requires Providence. On some level, then, sowing and reaping requires trust. You do what you can do, giving it your best, and then you walk away… and wait.


Dreams you don’t take action on remain possibilities, untapped potential.

The same is true for dreams you don’t cultivate. They, too, remain opportunities— storehouses of “what might have been.”



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